Indirectly Criticizes the Modern Society in The Rainbow

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Lawrence’s View.

      Lawrence was not in favor of certain disruptive forces of modern, scientific and industrial civilization. These, he thought threatened the dignity, vitality and integrity of human individuals which shattered the beauty, liveliness and healthy influence of his natural environment to which man had an organic relationship. He brings out his bitter resentment of the Industrial System and as is usual with him, he chooses one of the characters to be his spokesman. In The Rainbow, he chooses Ursula to bring out his ideas and philosophy.

      Ursula's shock and hatred of the colliery town and the tenements of the workers is actually Lawrence's and is expressed thus:

"In the middle of the town was a large open, shapeless space, of black trodden- earth.... the place had the strange desolation of a ruin. The colliers hanging about in gangs—seemed not like living people, but like spectres. The rigidity of the black streets, the homogeneous amorphous sterility of the whole suggested death rather than life. There was no meeting place, no centre, no artery, no organic formation. There it lay, like the new foundations of red brick confusion rapidly spreading, like a skin disease...It was like some gruesome dream, some ugly, dead amorphous mood become concrete."

       Ursula is the modern emancipated woman who has broken away from the authority of her parents and lives her life in her own way. She is also not bound by the traditional pieties and sanctions. The corruption which has arisen because (of industrialization is somewhat brought out through the souls of Uncle Tom: and Miss Inger. It is further emphasized with a glimpse of the industrial town of Wiggiston:

"Ursula looked out of the window and saw the proud, demon-like colliery with her wheels twinkling in the heavens, the formless, squalid mass of the town lying aside. It was the squalid heap of side-shows. The pit was the main show, the rainson d'etre of it all."

      How terrible it was! There was a horrible fascination in it—human bodies and lives subjected in slavery to that symmetric master of the colliery. There was a swooning perverse satisfaction in it. For a moment she was dizzy.

      Then she recovered, felt herself in a great loneliness, wherein she was sad but free. No more would she subscribe to the great colliery, to the great machines which had taken us all captives. In her soul, she Was against it, she disowned even its power. It had only to be forsaken to be inane, meaningless. And she knew it was meaningless. But it needed a great, passionate effort of will on her part, seeing the colliery, still to maintain her knowledge that it was meaningless.'
Thus, Lawrence's own concept of the sad plight of human life in an industrial civilization is brought out through the views of Ursula in the novel.

System of Education.

      Lawrence once again makes use of Ursula in attacking his second target i.e. the system of education which was a burning issue of the times. Ursula wishes to shake out of the accepted norms of her times and wishes to be economically independent. But her illusions are shattered one by one in a series of bitter battles with her father. Her own initiative is defeated, her desire to leave home and start afresh thwarted and in desperation she accepts a job as an uncertified teacher in a school in a poor quarter in Ilkeston.

      Lawrence's account of Ursula's experiences in this school is very subjective and the whole episode is both distressing and unsatisfying. Ursula approaches her new job with high ideals and excited hopes:

“She dreamed how she would make the little, ugly children love her. She would be so personal. Teachers were always so hard and impersonal. There was no vivid relationship. She would make everything personal and vivid, she would give herself, she would give, give, give all her great stories of wealth to her children, she would make them so happy; and they would prefer her to any teacher on the face of the earth... She would be the gleaming Sun of the school, the children would blossom like little weeds, the teachers like tall, hard plants would burst into rare flowers.”

      Her first day dawns with a sense of disillusion. The arrival of the other teachers and the children does not give Ursula much confidence; she finds the teachers 'so cock-sure and so busy' and when she meets her class they are 'jerking their shoulders, tossing their hair, nudging, writhing, staring, grinning, whispering and twisting.'

      The picture which Lawrence gives of the school is a highly critical one; the regimentation, the disciplinarian methods, the brutal canings are offset by no positive aspect of education. Ursula is thrown into her first day of teaching with no training and with scant assistance either from the headmaster or from the other teacher. Ursula can succeed only by dominating the children and intimidating them both physically and spiritually. It is a jaundiced view of education which reflects Lawrence’s own experiences as a pupil-teacher in 1902. He sees education as a battle between the weak and the slightly less weak and appears to believe that children must be subjugated before they can be educated.

      Lawrence’s opposition of the materialistic outlook which makes everything subservient to money is brought out in an angry outburst of Ursula:

"I do not want an aristocracy—but aristocracy of birth, not of money. Who are the aristocrats now? Who are chosen as the best to rule? Those who have money and the brains for money. It doesn't matter, what else they have: but they must have money-brains because they are ruling in the name of money.”

      Thus, making Ursula, his spokesman, Lawrence brings out his criticism of the modem society.

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