The Rainbow: Chapter 12 - Summary and Analysis

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      Depression of Ursula. Ursula was studying for her matriculation examination. It was a dreary work in that unhappy state of mind, but the consciousness of self-responsibility kept her pinned to the work. She wanted to go out into the man’s world and conquer it. At this time, she was perplexed and confused, and shrank from the least touch or attention, as if she were afraid. Her sister Gudrun who was continuing her studies by virtue of a special talent for drawing was a source of comfort to her during these days.

      Winifred Inger. Winifred Inger was one of her mistresses. She was a proud athletic woman fond of swimming and boating. It was after Skrebensky had gone away, that Ursula became suddenly conscious that a queer awareness existed between herself and her mistress, Miss Inger. The latter was a rather beautiful woman of Twenty-eight, a fearless seeming clean type of modem girl whose very independence betrays her sorrow. She was accurate, quick and commanding and clever in what she did. Her voice was ringing and clear; her eye blue, clear, proud. She seemed to possess an unyielding mind. Yet there was an infinite poignancy about her, a great pathos in her lovely, proudly closed mouth. Between Ursula and her mistress developed a secret sympathy which made the presence of each charming and enriching to the other. Miss Inger was a Bachelor of Arts and a clergyman's daughter of a good family. But what Ursula admired in her was her fine, upright, athletic bearing and her proud, dignified mind. She was proud and free as a man and exquisite as a woman; and Ursula was overpowered by her person, her strong loins and her calm free limbs.

      Intimacy. The swimming classes started with the summer term. Miss Winnifred Inger incharge of the summer classes. Ursula felt a kind of intoxicated delight in the presence of Miss Inger and longed for physical contact with her. Ursula was fascinated to see Miss Inger appear in a rust-red tunic tied around her waist and a red silk handkerchief round her head. Her knees were so white and strong and proud, and she was firm-bodied as Diana. Miss Inger plunged deep into the water followed shortly by Ursula who was swimming voluptuously, her heart burning with desire to touch her, to feel the white smoothness of her person. They reached the deep end of the bath when Miss Inger swung suddenly and caught Ursula round the waist in water and held her for a moment against her. Love was confirmed between them and Ursula was delighted at the invitation of Miss Inger to take tea with her on Saturday next. Together they made tea and talked till late in the evening. Suddenly Miss Inger decided to take bath and Ursula had to agree, they stripped themselves and stood stark naked in the darkness. And the elder held the younger girl close against her, as they went down and by the side of water she put her arms round her pupil and kissed her. Rain came in a brisk shower and drenched them. Ursula ran indoors, eager to loose herself in natural surroundings. They parted and Ursula felt a void in her heart.

      ’’The two women became intimate. Their lives seemed suddenly fused into one, inseparable. Ursula went to Winnifred lodging, she spent there her only living hours. Winifred was very fond of water-of swimming, of rowing. She belonged to various athletic clubs. Many delicious afternoons the two girls spent in a light boat on the river, Winnifred always rowing. Indeed, Winifred seemed to delight in having Ursula in her charge, in giving things to the girl, infilling and enriching her life."

      Time passed Ursula still adhered to her mistress, but it was clear that the relationship was becoming tiresome and cloying. Ursula failed to find fulfillment through love-relationship with another woman. She wanted to be free from the relationship, and the mistress too felt that Ursula was rejecting her, casting her off. But still she clung to the younger girl.

      Winifred and Ursula—Invited at the Colliery Town. Then came a turn in their affairs. Both the girls were invited by Ursula's uncle Tom to spend their vacation with him in Yorkshire, where he was the manager of a big colliery. Ursula wanted that Miss Inger should marry her Uncle who was undergoing a process of disintegration. He no longer cared about anything on this earth, man, woman, God or humanity. He had come to a stability of nullification.

      Uncle Tom’s House - Uncle Tom lived at a desolate place, among colliers and black streets, suggestive of death rather than of life. The people moved like creatures with no more hope, but which still live and have passionate being, within some utterly unliving shell, they passed meaninglessly along, with strong isolated dignity. The streets were visions of pure ugliness. The rigidity of these black streets suggested death rather than life Tom had been here for two years, but even now the place seemed to him like some ugly gruesome dream. Ursula and Winnifred were disgusted with the life here.

      Tom Marries Winifred. Winifred met Tom and was startled by his figure and gestures. The clasp of his hand was soft, yet so forceful that it chilled her. She was afraid of him and yet attracted. He looked at the athletic, seemingly fearless girl and he detected in her a kinship with his own dark corruption. They sat talking about the life of the colliers, men and women who were paying with their life-blood for the profit which was pouring into the pockets of the capitalists. Both Winifred and Tom were closely akin, the souls of both of them were equally corrupt and degraded, and so their fascination was natural. Soon the two were engaged, and were married in due course. Tom Brangwen was glad for he wanted children, and now he would get them. Ursula was also glad, for now she was rid of a relationship which she hated, and no longer wanted.


      Ursula’s emotional immaturity is evident in this chapter, not only in her affair with Winifred Inger, but also in her whole attitude to life. In her worship of nature and her hatred of the sordid mining town where her uncle lives. Yet every experience helps towards her understanding of herself and thus towards her ultimate maturity. Ursula seeks fulfillment through love-relationship with Winifred Inger. Both these relationships fail. The first because the relationship is entirely physical, and the second because it is totally sterile. According to F.R. Leavis, Lawrence was a great social historian. The present chapter with graphic description of the mining town of Wigginton with so much ugliness and squalor sprawling about it is sufficient to justify this claim.

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