Lydia Lensky: Character Analysis in The Rainbow

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      Lydia's Background. Lydia Lensky was the daughter of a Polish land owner and his wealthy German wife. Her father died before the rebellion and she married, quite young. She is first introduced to us as a Polish widow. She had married Paul Lensky, an intellectual educated at Berlin, who was a doctor and patriot. She also became a patriot and learned nursing as a mark of her emancipation. They had two children and they stood in the center of the rebellion when it came. Her husband was eloquent and fiery and found himself in hot waters in Warsaw, so they crossed into the south of Russia. Her husband worked very hard till nothing remained of him but his eyes. Lydia followed him like his shadow and echoed his ideas. But when her two children died Lydia was plunged into darkness and moved about a silent and shadowy figure in the grip of terror. By the time their last child Anna was born, he was reduced to skin, bone and ideas. In silent dejection she nursed both and when her husband died, she felt relieved. England fitted her mood because she could live there alone in the crowd.

      Lydia's Personality. When we first meet Lydia, she has a charming, fascinating personality. "Her face was pale and clear, she had thick eyebrows, and wide mouth curiously held." Her mouth is peculiar, it is an "ugli-beautiful," mouth and it is a great source of fascination for Tom. There is a strange fascination about her, a curiously foreign look, and Tom is at once taken in by her. She has a strong resemblance with Frieda Weekly whom Lawrence himself had married and who was also a German lady and senior to him in age. Lawrence's special consideration for this character is also apparent from the fact that she shares her name with Mrs. Lydia Lawrence, the mother of D.H. Lawrence.

      Lydia's Meeting with Tom Brangwen. Lydia has come to the Marsh as a housekeeper to the Vicar. It is at this juncture that she meets Tom Brangwen. Tom is first attracted to Lydia because he sees her as the fulfillment of his aspirations. A stranger, self-contained, self-absorbed, she seems to offer him that other life that so far has eluded him. When their eyes meet as they pass each other on the Nottingham road, 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.

      Their Courtship. Tom’s courtship of Lydia hardly happens on the level of ordinary human contact. 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. The scene of the proposal is evocative. Lydia hesitates for sometime because the man was not of her sort, but she feels the rooted security that he offers and besides, he is fresh and young and 'the blue, steady livingness of his eyes she enjoyed like morning.' So she accepted the proposal and started the second phase of her life as Lydia Brangwen.

      Lydia Marries Tom. At last Lydia and Tom get married to each other. Her married life was an alternating rhythm of love and hate, attraction and repulsion, quarrels and reconciliations. There is some tension between Tom and Lydia but there is no taunting or baiting as there is later between Will and Anna; each respects the independent life of the other, yet finds fulfillment of self through the relationship which "contained bonds and constraints and labors, and still was complete liberty."

      Lydia’s Pregnancy. Slowly harmony between Tom and Lydia prevailed as she came to have his first child in her womb. The silence and distance between them followed and he was deposed. Her husband seethed with discontent and thought her to be cold and cruel, but he respected her dignity. When the child was born she lost her connection with the past and her former self. She became now really English, really Mrs. Bangwen. But her vitality was lowered and could not fully gratify the desires of her husband. Thus, he sought comfort either in the company of his stepdaughterAnna or by going to the Red Lion to get drunk.

      Ultimate Fulfillment. As time rolled on his sexual cravings increased and with the unerring instinct of an intelligent woman she understood his condition and gladly prepared herself for the gratification of her husband's desire. One day Tom visits the mistress of his brother. Lydia does not know about this particular visit but knows that he wants another woman. Thus for the first time Lydia opens up her tortured soul to him. He had earlier never realized that even she could be lonely, isolated and unsure inwardly, hence the second union is a Marvellous experience; it cemented their bond and transfeired them. The broken arches united and the rainbow of their harmony illumined their life.

      After Tom’s Death. After the death of her husband Lydia withdrew herself from the business of the world, its rage, passion and endless fret and fever, she wished to enjoy the peace and innocence of age. She was only delighted in children and spent many pleasant hours with Ursula her granddaughter.

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