Love Relationships in the Novel The Rainbow

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      Describing the love relationship dealt with by Lawrence, Bonamy Dobree says, "For, however much he may be telling a story, or presenting the life of today, there is one theme which more and more dominates his writing and that is the relation, not so much of the sexes, that poor over-battered theme, but of the male and female principles. For him there is somewhere essential maleness, and somewhere else essential femaleness, both, of course, necessary to universal fruition. But everywhere in men he sees a lack of real virility all has been distorted by consciousness, by religions, by over-intellectualization. Instead of leading the life of impulse, men and women lead lives directed at one extreme by the body, at the other by the mind; men are devoted to absurd schemes of power of position, or to mere money-grubbing. Everywhere people are worshipping false Gods, involved in spiteful partisanship or wasteful snobberies."

      Lawrence though advocates the basic union of men and women based upon sex, but however, he believes in the balance of two distinct and opposite selves. The two individuals are to respect each other's independence and must be tender to each other. Even if there arises a conflict between them, it should be creative and not destructive. It is not only union of spirits that the union of body leads to but it leads to the creative union with the world outside and even to the universe of nature against which the human drama must be enacted. Thus, Lawrence depicts this union with the symbolic representation of the rainbow which is a connection between the earth and the sky, the physical and the spiritual, the male and the female, yet keeping the two quite distinct.

      It is Lawrence's concept of successful polarisation that establishes the most harmoniously successful relationship between Tom and Lydia as compared to the: lovers of the other two generations.

Tom and Lydia.

      It is with Tom that the detailed story of the individual Brangwens begins. Tom is initially attracted towards Lydia because he sees her as the fulfillment of his aspirations. She seems to offer him that other life that so far has eluded him. Tom feels such a deep affinity with her that he cannot bear to think of anything, lest it break into his vision of the 'far world, the fragile reality' which she represents. It is not on the level of ordinary human contact that the courtship of Tom and Lydia happens. His intimacy with her progresses indirectly, through a conversation with his own servant Tilly, through a brief encounter after church with little Anna, through the purchase of butter for the vicar. In his mind, however, he has moved slowly but surely towards the decision to marry her. Though there is a sense of hesitation on the part of Tom but nevertheless, it does not prevent them from a total surrendering to the joy of physical union. It has been described thus: "And he let himself go from past and future, was reduced to the moment with her, in which he took her and was with her: They were 'together in an elemental embrace beyond their superficial foreignness. And she, everything forgotten in her new hour of coming to life, radiated vigor and joy, so that he quivered to touch her." Though they often quarrel violently but they always make it up. There comes a brief period of estrangement with the pregnancy of Lydia when she refuses to receive him. He now turns to his stepdaughter as to a new center of his love. Still, his heart was with his wife and he has sympathy for her. They once again come together after the birth of their first child: "It was the entry into another circle of existence, it was the baptism to another life. Everything was lost and everything was found. The new world was discovered, it remained only to be explored. They had passed through the doorway into the further space, where movement was so large, that it contained bonds and constraints and labors, and still was complete liberty. She was the doorway to him, he to her. At last they had thrown open the doors, each to the other and stood in the doorways facing each other, while the light-flooded out from behind on to each other's faces, it was the transfiguration, the glorification, the admission." Thus, they have a successful love, a union of two separate beings.

Will and Anna.

      Coming to the relationship of Will and Anna, it is Will, who is the stronger and who comes to Anna's life. Anna is Polish by birth and name and is reared in a Brangwen household. In her encounter with Tom's nephew, she feels, the intense, strange young man 'hovering on the edge of consciousness, ready to come in.' The pulsations and tense rhythms of their courtship and marriage are set in motion through the deftly comic inflections of the play of boy and girl attraction. The sheaves scene is a very fine example of the subtle symbolic mode of this novel. The scene is distinctive from other kinds of reconciliation, its harmonies of surface and depth, of objective and subjective. In the reaped field, the young lovers delight in their play of forming corn stooks, turning it into love-play, sexual pursuit and capture. The human sexual impulses are in consonance with the natural, organic rhythms, to which indeed they give the crowning human form and significance.

      Once again Anna is shown as feeling defiant of Will’s desire to possess her and the popular Anna Victrix section shows how day-to-day living is crisply, fully realized, and the naturalistic density shows no retreat is involved in registering the total consciousness of the partners. There is no withdrawal into a fugitive or subjective realm. Yet the pressures of the intuitive, vital self-hood impinge electrically, as in the incidents of the housework, the tea-party, the path-making. The lightest gesture or simplest word, far from being superficial sketching in of temperament, can manifest the interplay of deep psychic needs, the interchange of bodily and spiritual poverty of richness.

      Anna's rationality and skepticism disenchant Will, who has now to see what the Church excludes. The rainbow of the Cathedral's 'jeweled gloom' betokens a luminous oneness, obliterating diversity and multiplicity, eliminating all oppositions of blood and spirit. Though Anna argues destructively, to beat down her husband, she also beats back an insistent tide of passion, her own instinct to participate and to respond as Will does. Anna, with the child Ursula, and with Will close by is graced with the sight of what is to come. She never accomplishes the bird-soul flight to high freedom, settling instead 'in her built house, a rich woman'. The doorway to fulfillment that she saw in Will remains half-open only. She feels herself to be 'a door and a threshold, through whom 'another soul was coming'. If she and Will have not fared forward to the promised land, they have at least the grace and blessing of looking to its advent.

Ursula and Skrebensky.

      Ursula is the last of the Brangwens that Lawrence deals with and we enter, much more fully into her life. There is in fact little love in the early relationship of Ursula and Skrebensky. In fact, she is in love not with Skrebensky, but with the part of herself that she sees in him. Skrebensky, on his side, is inflamed to passion by the unthinking and ingenuous sexuality of the girl. Skrebensky is a non-entity. It is in this generation that we see love coming down to the level of mere physical union and Skrebensky feels satisfied with it. "It was magnificent self-assertion on the part of both of them. He asserted himself before her, he felt himself infinitely male and infinitely irresistible, she asserted herself before him. She knew herself infinitely desirable, and hence infinitely strong. And after all, what could either of them get from such a passion but a sense of his or her own maximum self, in contradiction to all the rest of life? Wherein was something finite and sad, for the human soul al its maximum wants a sense of the infinite.”

      After Skrebensky's return from South Africa, they meet again. The moon is symbolic of the peculiarly particular manner. The moon rises, Ursula turns to it. Eventually, Ursula makes 'hard and fierce' love to him. "It lasted till it was agony to his soul, till he succumbed, till he gave way as if dead, and lay with his face buried, partly in her hair, partly in the sand, motionless, as if he would be motionless, now forever, hidden away in the dark, buried, only buried, he only wanted to be buried in goodly darkness, only that, and no more." After this fierce lovemaking, Ursula is seen to be the female happy to crush and destroy the male and she herself is exhausted in the process. Thus, in the end she can only wait, with hope, that she would be fulfilled in the new world which appears to be coming to birth out of the dead world around her. In comparison to her predecessors, she has failed miserably.

University Questions also can be Answered:

Is it true that the lovers of the first generation, Lydia and Tom are the most successful in their love relationship as compared to the lovers of the other two generations in The Rainbow?
Can The Rainbow rightly be called a tangle of personal relationships?
“Lawrence in The Rainbow has tried to study the tensions and potentialities of married life.” Comment.

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