The Rainbow: Chapter 4 - Summary and Analysis

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Girlhood of Anna Brangwen.


      Anna at Cossethay. At the age of 9 Anna is sent to school. First to the village school in Cossethay & later to a school for young ladies in Nottingham. She does not make much progress at either of the schools and she comes to the conclusion that education is pointless and her teachers coarse-souled. She had little reverence for her teacher, the old Miss Coates. In fact she patronized her in her own childish fashion. She did not love anybody except her mother whom she rather resentfully worshipped. She did love her father upon whom she was dependent. She felt miserable when people disliked her. She was proud and aloof and hated ugliness. She did not have anyone among her school, mates whom she could call her friend. She was too much the center of her own universe to be aware of the world outside. So much so, that she did not even care for her brothers Tom and Fred.

      Baron Skrebensky. The only person who affected her as a real, living creature was Baron Skrebensky, her mother's friend, a Polish exile who had taken orders and occupied a small country living in Yorkshire. At the age of ten, Anna went to see him with her mother and was deeply impressed with him. He talked furiously in Polish and made violent gestures with his hands. She immensely liked all this and felt a sense of freedom in his presence.

      At Nottingham. Anna grew up to be a tall, awkward girl. At the young ladies school at Nottingham, she was busy in becoming a young lady like the other girls of her school. She mistrusted the outside world, hated the young ladies and thought they were critical of her. She often rebelled against those in authority and did not believe that she was really so bad as she was made out to be. She wanted to be royal, like Alexandra, Princess of Wales, so she dressed and behaved accordingly. This was rather liked by her father who gave her enough encouragement and stood like a rock between her and the world. Ironically, she became a lofty damsel at the age of sixteen. She was very sensitive to her father and sharply reacted to his lapses into old habits. They were a curious family, a law to themselves, separate from the world, isolated, a small republic set in invisible bounds. The mother was still indifferent to the place and its people, and did not care much for the forms and mode of worship. She had completely domesticated her husband. On the farm he lived with her through a mystery of life and death and creation, strong profound ecstasies and incommunicable satisfactions of which the rest of the world knew nothing.

      Anna’s Moods and Temper. At the age of seventeen Anna became sudden and incalculable. Though she sometimes went out and mixed with people, but always came home in anger, as if she were diminished, belittled, almost degraded. Often she would rage and was furious and would interrupt the even tenor of life at home with her fits of ill-temper. She would find faults, criticize and express dissatisfaction. At such behavior, her mother would often turn to her with fierce destructive anger which would make her turn to her father. But sometimes she felt that even he was against her, and would feel hostile to both of them. As a kind of escape, she tried many ways. She became an assiduous churchgoer. But this also did not satisfy her. The language seemed to her false. While the religious feelings were inside her, They were passionately moving. In the mouth of the clergymen, they appeared false, indecent.

      Anna and William. At the age of eighteen, something happened to change the very current of her life. William Brangwen came to Ilkeston to take a place as a junior draughts-man in a lace factory. Anna was faintly excited at the news of William coming to the Marsh. He appeared on the Marsh one Sunday morning, “he was a long, thin youth with a bright face and curious self-possession among his shyness, a native unawareness of what other people might be, since he was himself.” He had a black finely-shapen line on his upper lip. He was unconventional and had the self-possession of the Brangwens. Anna found his voice queer with rather high upper notes and very resonant middle notes. Though antagonized with him. She also felt amused with him. She went to the Church together with him and sitting beside him she found herself curiously aware of some strange influence which had entered into her world. In the afternoon he opened up in conversation with her. He was interested in Church architecture, under the influence of Ruskin.

      Anna in Love with William. William went on to talk about the Churches, their various parts and peculiarities till Anna was overpowered by his spell. She was earned away and the land seemed to her imagination to be covered with a vast mystic church, reserved in gloom, thrilled with an unknown presence. She was amused by his movements, the funny tones of his voice as he sang at Church. He was interested in Church architecture and he would talk enthusiastically on the subject. Anna would listen to him with open-eyed wonder without knowing. The two fell in love with each other, though at first neither knew how to express it. They both drifted apart from the others, making a world of their own. Anna now acquired a new independence, a new self-confidence. Though in love, neither of them knew how to express it. Will's hobby was wood-carving and he made Anna a present of a butter-stamper. Soon after, he began a carving depicting the creation of Eve for a Church panel, inspired to carve the Eve by his love for Anna. In a strange night-harvesting episode, in which Will and Anna set up the sheaves in shacks, resulted in their deciding to get married.

      Tom’s Objection to Their Marriage. The decision of Will and Anna to get married was met with much objection and hostility by Tom. He was smoldering with silent anger and pricked the bubble of William’s vanity with his question of whether he had enough money for the purpose. Tom, sneeringly referred the matter before Anna who retorted to the blindness of her antagonism that he had no business to stop her because he was not her father; her father was dead. Tom Brangwen then realized that life was slipping through his fingers and that he was being superseded by youth. Once he accepted this, he set out to please Will and Anna by helping her financially. He took on lease a cottage in Cossethay for the young couple, handed over to Will shares of £2500 which he had put aside for Anna. Week by week, he enjoyed bringing little household gadgets, such as a meat mincer, an egg-whisk or a mangled home for her. Anna's heart broke and she wept the whole day out of remorse for the cruel wound she had inflicted on her father. Tom blamed himself, he sneered at himself, for his clinging to the young to belong to him. His life had nothing worth remembrance, but he was proud that he lay with his wife in his? arms and she was still his fulfillment. The marriage was fixed for December 23rd.


      In this chapter, Lawrence is concerned with several generations of the Brangwen family and here, through the replacement in Anna's affections of Tom by Will, he is showing the inevitable cycle of history in which the older generation is unwillingly compelled to give way to the younger. By the end of this chapter the main focus of interest has shifted from Tom and Lydia to Anna and Will. There is great lyrical intensity in the depiction of the love of Anna and William. Unlike Tom it is this time Anna, the woman who seeks to escape through William and "In him she sought an escape, in him the bounds of her experience were transgressed. It was a new reserve, a new independence that she found in him."

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