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Man has assumed the gentle, all-sympathetic role, and woman has become the energetic party, with the authority in her hands. The male is the sensitive, sympathetic nature, the woman the active, effective, authoritative. And the whole polarity shifts over. Man still remains the doer and thinker. But he is also in the service of emotional and procreative woman, pp. He rightly tells Cyril,. Lawrence had evidently been struck by the degeneracy of man through drink; such disintegration is exemplified twice in the story.

He does try to understand what he lacks, he does try to find a purpose, and after rejecting what Lawrence himself criticizes, he is left with no other way out but drink. Once during a quarrel Morel locks his wife out in the garden. After the first moment of revolt Mrs. Morel, who is pregnant, finds peace in the quietness of the evening:. Morel leaned on the garden gate, looking out, and she lost herself awhile. She did not know what she thought. Except for a slight feeling of sickness, and her consciousness in the child, herself melted out like scent into the shiny, pale air. After a time the child, too, melted with her in the mixing-pot of moonlight, and she rested with the hills and lilies and houses, all swum together in a kind of swoon.

Flowers are the major natural element in the novel; they are an important witness in all the love scenes between Paul and his mother, Miriam, or Clara. Miriam worships them as she worships Paul. Paul and his mother take them for what they are and derive much joy from them. Clara refuses to pick them because she says it kills them, but after her love-making with Paul she is glad to accept them as a tribute to her womanhood.

In their passionate love-making Paul and Clara commune with nature, are lost in the Infinite, gaining a strength which establishes them firmly in their own separateness and in the belief in life which ultimately saves them:. After such an evening they were both very still, having known the immensity of passion. To know their own nothing-ness, to know the tremendous living flood which carried them always, gave them rest within themselves.


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If so great a magnificent power could overwhelm them, identify them altogether with itself, so that they knew they were only grains in the tremendous heave that lifted every grass-blade its little height, and every tree, and living thing, then why fret about themselves? They could let themselves be carried by life, and they felt a sort of peace each in the other. There was a verification, which they had had together.

Nothing could nullify it, nothing could take it away; it was almost their belief in life. On the other hand, when his mother dies, Paul is alienated from nature as he is from life. Willey Farm is pleasant, warm and brimming with life, but it is unprofitable and overrun by rabbits, a sign of the decay of agricultural England.

The Morel home illustrates the living conditions created by the invasion of industrialism. But the mining community is still rural, and if any criticism of industrialism is implied in Sons and Lovers , it is obviously not intended as a deliberate condemnation of the system. Lawrence does not criticize the kind of work the miners do. Rather the contrary! The only reference to industrialism is when Paul Morel-Lawrence feels threatened by it:. Already he was a prisoner of industrialism. Large sunflowers stared over the old red wall of the garden opposite, looking in their jolly way down on the women who were hurrying with something for dinner.

The valley was full of corn, brightening in the sun. Two collieries, among the fields, waved their small white plumes of steam. Far off on the hills were the woods of Annesley, dark and fascinating. Already his heart went down. He was being taken into bondage. His freedom in the beloved home valley was going now.

These feelings are due to the lack of confidence, the humiliation and the uncertainty which the search for a job induces in an adolescent. Lawrence did not yet bear industrialism any definite grudge, for once his hatred was aroused, he was sharp enough in his denunciation. No; and I like the pits here and there. I like the rows of trucks, and the headstocks, and the steam in the daytime, and the lights at night.

When I was a boy, I always thought a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night was a pit, with its steam, and its lights, and the burning bank—and I thought the Lord was always at the pit-top. Morel had been attracted by the warmth and the pleasantness of her husband. She was a puritan, like her father, high-minded, and really stern.

Morel realizes that she has been deceived by her husband about what he owns, and she cannot forgive him the lie.

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Gradually, she comes to despise him, and he starts neglecting her. She no longer thinks him noble but shallow, as if he were all pleasantness and joy of living but had no backbone:. There began a battle between husband and wife—a fearful, bloody battle that ended only with the death of one. She fought to make him undertake his own responsibilities, to make him fulfil his obligations. But he was too different from her. His nature was purely sensuous, and she strove to make him moral, religious. She tried to force him to face things. He could not endure it—it drove him out of his mind.

Nevertheless, she still continued to strive with him. She still had her high moral sense, inherited from generations of Puritans. It was now a religious instinct, and she was almost a fanatic with him, because she loved him, or had loved him. If he sinned, she tortured him. If he drank, and lied, was often a poltroon, sometimes a knave, she wielded the lash unmercifully. So, in seeking to make him nobler than he could be, she destroyed him. He does not dismiss them as adults so often do when they have outgrown a particular situation. Morel was probably exceptional. On the other hand, when all is well, an atmosphere of warmth and closeness makes it very congenial.

Yet, she never forgets her grudge against the father, she never forgives him, never has a kind or tender impulse towards him. She cannot help hardening against him when she is offended; his vulgar manners, which she can never ignore, irritate her and destroy her feeling for him as surely as a serious failing:. Immediately he had finished tea he rose with alacrity to go out. It was this alacrity, this haste to be gone which so sickened Mrs.

As she heard him sousing heartily in cold water, heard the eager scratch of the steel comb on the side of the bowl, as he wetted his hair, she closed her eyes in disgust. As he bent over, lacing his boots, there was a certain vulgar gusto in his movement that divided him from the reserved, watchful rest of the family.

He always ran away from the battle with himself. Morel appears as a hard, unbending woman who leaves her husband no chance. Morel is humiliated, and he is ashamed of the pain he inflicts. It is true that he is afraid of his wife, rather a coward, perhaps because her superiority makes him take it for granted that he is no match for her.

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He refuses to acknowledge his faults because he has the impression that she is indifferent to what he feels, and he is mortified by the fact that she always proves the stronger of the two. That is why he tries to mask his weakness and to assert his authority brutally when he knows he is wrong. On the other hand, the kind of community they live in has nothing to offer except hard work and the pub.

To a woman, it offers nothing but the chapel. Sons and Lovers is a homage to his mother; yet, judging by his own standards, her portrait in the novel is not wholly favourable. The hero sympathizes with her, but the pathetic casting off of the father from the family circle shows to what extent and how early as an adult Lawrence had fathomed the nature of the conflict between his parents.

For when she is finally disappointed in Morel, she turns to her children with eagerness, and her love is at the same time deep and terribly exacting. By turning to her children for love, Mrs. Morel compels them to share in her sufferings, not intentionally, but inevitably. The extraordinary intensity of her love and their natural response make them acutely conscious of whatever she feels.

Years after writing Sons and Lovers Lawrence criticized that attitude in Fantasia of the Unconscious :. And the one who receives the sympathy is always more contemptible than the one who is hated. On the other hand, Mrs. Morel imparts to them her vitality and strength. She experiences with her sons an intimacy at once enriching and frustrating for the boys. He grew worse and the crisis approached. One night he tossed into consciousness in the ghastly, sickly feeling of dissolution, when all the cells in the body seem in intense irritability to be breaking down, and consciousness makes a last flare of struggle, like madness.

He realised her. His whole will rose up and arrested him. He put his head on her breast, and took ease of her for love. John Middleton-Murry writes:. It is terribly poignant, and terribly wrong. Almost better that a boy should die than have such an effort forced upon him by such means.

The appeal is to her child, whether boy or girl; there is nothing incestuous in it. The incest motive is present in Sons and Lovers and very important, but it seems to me that it is usually absent from the scenes of great dramatic intensity, precisely because the poignancy of such scenes divests them of any ambiguity and makes them stand out in all innocence. The incest motive develops later and is a source of conflict between Paul and his mother when he falls in love with Miriam. Yet, the real cause of this conflict is not merely his incapacity to love a girl because of his mother. The conflict arises because Miriam cannot love him unreservedly, just as she cannot have normal relations with other people.

Morel prevents him from loving Miriam is to oversimplify. The boy is struck at once by her romanticism, her passionate nature, the earnestness with which everything in her life is made a source of fulfilment or a trial to the soul. Miriam is constantly reminded by her mother of the religious significance of the smallest action or event.

Paul likes to work on Willey Farm with the boys. He soon discovers their over-sensitiveness and gentleness under their apparent coarseness. At first, the religious intensity which prevails in their home and fascinates him counterbalances happily the influence of his mother, particularly in his work.

For Mrs. Morel is not really interested in his painting but in himself and in what he will achieve. He is the more thankful then for the wholesome nature of his mother. Their life centered around the Congregational chapel and the literary society so that religion was the source of intellectual and spiritual accomplishment.

It remained so even after Lawrence started to question the orthodox creed: religion and the excellent sermons they heard at the Congregational chapel were always favourite subjects of discussion with Miriam and the other members of her family. However, whereas E. Miriam was exceedingly sensitive, as her mother had always been. The slightest grossness made her recoil almost in anguish.

Her brothers were brutal, but never coarse in speech. The men did all the discussing of farm matters outside. But, perhaps, because of the continual business of birth and begetting which goes on upon every farm, Miriam was the more hypersensitive to the matter, and her blood was chastened almost to disgust of the faintest suggestion of such intercourse. Paul took his pitch from her, and their intimacy went on in an utterly blanched and chaste fashion.

It could never be mentioned that the mare was in foal. Paul hates her for making him despise himself and lose his ease and naturalness. Here is the real source of the conflict between Paul and Miriam and not in Mrs. It could be objected to this that Paul is incapable of arousing physical desire in Miriam because of his immoderate love for his mother. Yet, it is clear that his affair with Clara is wholly successful. He is right when he says that her purity is more like nullity, for she is neither ignorant of sex nor innocent.

She despises the man in him and always refers to his virility as to the child in him. Paul is terribly hurt when he realizes that she has always thought so while she showed him such reverence. Mark Spilka makes a very interesting point when he compares Miriam to Hermione Rodice. Lawrence asserts implicitly but clearly the interdependence between physical and spiritual fulfilment. From the start, she realizes that Clara is not big enough for her son, and she feels sorry for her. Clara, with her grudge against men and her desire to be independent, is a wounded woman who has never known real passion with her husband and whose aggressiveness towards men is self-protective.

But again, if Paul and Clara fail to achieve a successful relationship, it is not at bottom because of Mrs.


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  • Their passion is purely sensual; it cannot last because he wants her to be something that she cannot be, and she is soon dissatisfied because she realizes that she has no hold over the vital part in him. She does not even know what this vital part is, which proves her own shortcoming.

    So their love disintegrates, but she has at least gained assurance from her experience with Paul. She goes back to her husband, mollified, for after all she has failed to make Paul really love her. When he hears that she suffers from an incurable disease, he gives free course to the obsessive quality of his love for her. It is to recognize that neither Miriam nor Clara can outdo Mrs.

    Morel because she is superior to them. Indeed, when Paul says that he can never really love another woman while she lives, it is partly because of the abnormal intensity of his love for her, but also because he has never met a woman who could match her. When the children are young, they all share their life with her, do things for her, tell her everything, look up to her as to the remarkable woman she is.

    On their way home from Willey Farm, she is struck by Mr. Once Mrs. But he realized the moment he had spoken that he had said the wrong thing. And therefore I may stand aside; I have nothing more to do with you. You only want me to wait on you—the rest is for Miriam. Instinctively he realized that he was life to her. And, after all, she was the chief thing to him, the only supreme thing. I talk to her, but I want to come home to you. I could let another woman—but not her.

    His mother kissed him a long, fervent kiss. Without knowing, he gently stroked her face. If you want her, take her, my boy. Morel came in, walking unevenly. His hat was over one corner of his eye.

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    He balanced in the doorway. Yet there is something incestuous in the mother-son relationship: Mrs. Morel obviously expects Paul to compensate for her unhappy marriage, and, therefore, Miriam becomes the enemy. During the last months of her life he really behaves like a lover to her, and he feels that he is drifting towards spiritual death as she drifts towards physical death. Yet the harrowing situation, made more tragic yet by her unfailing will to hold on to life, invests their relationship with a new innocence and a dramatic intensity which culminates in her death. Though he does not want to die, Paul is pulled towards death by his overpowering, obsessive, destructive love for his mother:.

    His mother had really supported his life. He had loved her; they two had, in fact, faced the world together. Now she was gone, and for ever behind him was the gap in life, the tear in the veil, through which his life seemed to drift slowly as if he were drawn towards death. He wanted someone of their own free initiative to help him. The lesser things began to let go from him, for fear of this big thing, the lapse towards death, following in the wake of his beloved. He stands completely alone, having finally parted with Clara and Miriam, but he does not follow his mother into the night, he turns to life:.

    But no, he would not give in. His fists were shut, his mouth set fast. He would not take that direction, to the darkness, to follow her. He walked towards the faintly humming, glowing town quickly. If his mother has had a sterilizing influence because of her excessive love, she has also imparted to him her wonderful vitality. From Clara he has received the baptism of life which made a man of him. These combined influences eventually give him the strength to resist death and to start life as a full-grown man.

    Paul has known three forms of love which in their different ways have contributed to his making. In their own ways, Miriam, Clara, and above all Mrs. My opinion that Miriam and Clara share with Mrs. Moreover, there is no real contradiction but rather a qualification since the mother does not fight against a woman who could make her son happy but against a woman who offers an incomplete and distorted relationship. Now she had two sons in the world.

    She could think of two places, great centres of industry, and feel that she had put a man in each of them, that these men would work out what she wanted. On the other hand, religion is presented here also as a factor of intellectual fulfilment and spiritual richness.

    Even Mrs. If in real life Lawrence became an agnostic, he did not lose his religious intensity: it characterizes most of his work. In some of its aspects this tradition goes back to the early days of puritanism, when the Puritans developed a strong individualism and an unrelenting preoccupation with morals as a result of their sense of personal responsibility towards God. This is constantly felt in the attitude of Mrs. Beardsall, Mrs. Leivers and particularly Mrs. The emphasis on morals in the Puritan way of life had received a new impetus in the nineteenth century.

    But morality also came to be associated with prosperity, which was a convenient way of accounting for material success and gave the individual an additional reason for wanting to improve himself in order to achieve financial independence. If Walter Morel is destroyed, he is as guilty as his wife because he is a coward who would not stand by what he is. Woman asserts her supremacy, but man is free to accept it or reject it.

    Women take the lead because men are not strong enough morally, yet they secretly desire to keep faith in men. Morel, who is undeniably the moral authority in the household, acknowledges very subtly the man in Morel in the way she serves him, and the family is expected to do the same.

    Morel is also glad to serve her sons because they are men. Woman is gaining ascendency, but she does not yet take her supremacy for granted. Lawrence describes the relation-ships between husband and wife over three generations and unmistakably associates the accession of women to a new kind of freedom with the collapse of community life. Witness the chasm between Lydia and her grand-daughter Ursula and the consequences of their attitude on the people around them.

    They have no desire to change, and their contentment is the surest warrant of the stability of their way of life. She also wanted to know, and to be of the fighting host. The continuity in the Brangwen family is further preserved by Lydia Lensky. She wanted his active participation, not his submission. She looked from one to the other, and she saw them established for her safety, and she was free.

    She played between the pillar of fire and the pillar of cloud in confidence, having the assurance on her right hand and the assurance on her left. She tried to discuss people, she wanted to know what was meant. But her father became uneasy. He did not want to have things dragged into consciousness. He did not care about himself as a human being. He did not attach any vital importance to his life in the drafting office, or his life among men. The verity was his connection with Anna and his connection with the Church, his real being lay in dark, emotional experience of the Infinite, the Absolute.

    Their life together alternates between love and conflict, fierce battles and periods of perfect bliss. In no other novel has Lawrence embodied so successfully his conception of the dual nature of marriage. Anna emerges victorious, as it seems woman usually does, except in the case of Birkin and Ursula or Constance Chatterley and Mellors. Yet, in time they achieve some kind of fulfilment.

    Anna is enriched by her successive pregnancies. As to Will,. And this new man turned with interest to public life, to see what part he could take in it. This would give him scope for new activity, activity of a kind for which he was now created and released. He wanted to be unanimous with the whole of purposive mankind. The second generation find their way through many joys and sufferings, but their achievement, valuable as it is in itself, is necessarily more limited than that of the first generation or of Ursula in the third.

    If Tom Brangwen missed some kind of spiritual fulfilment, he was not aware of it and was content for most of his life with his marriage to Lydia. But this is the sudden realization by a middle-aged man, married to a wife older than himself and tired, that youth escapes him and that there is no return. He shows no regret for the way his life has been spent, and the main impression remains that he and his wife were fully gratified and that their existence together was a lasting achievement.

    It is not so with Will Brangwen, who in spite of his social advancement and the satisfaction he and his wife have known, is seen by Birkin in Women in Love as a. They are not alone responsible for it. Tom Brangwen had a natural support in his connection with the land and in the tradition of an agricultural community in which he and his wife were integrated.

    It is not so with Will Brangwen, who finds no pleasure in the work he does at the office and must discover other sources of joy and satisfaction—in his wood-carving and his night-school venture. At the same time he contends with a wife who wants to assert herself, although her aspirations are somewhat ill-defined. She does not try to meet him on equal terms as her mother had done with her husband; she asserts her will and denies him as master of the household.

    Moreover, other traditional values lose their significance. Will Brangwen is also deprived of the support of the Church. The Cathedral had been to him a means of reaching the Absolute. But this is another illusion which Anna destroys, drawing his attention to life outside the church. As a child, she loves her father passionately.

    The conflict which at moments tears her parents does not escape her; she never experiences the sense of security which Anna had felt between Tom and Lydia, so that very early she wishes to escape from home, a feeling which in spite of her aspirations Anna never experienced. Since she goes to school in Nottingham, she rises above the level of village life and achieves the old dream of the Brangwen women to belong to the world of knowledge and creative activity. Thus the process of emancipation is accomplished. But the new consciousness of women is not only a coming to life.

    Something else has died that she might live, and her freedom is also the outcome of a slow disintegration. The school is a prison in which she must renounce her individuality. Moreover, she is disappointed in her experience of college, from which she had expected so much. This was only a little side-show to the factories of the town. Gradually the perception stole into her. This was no religious retreat, no seclusion of pure learning. It was a little apprentice-shop where one was further equipped for making money.

    The college itself was a little, slovenly laboratory for the factory. It pretended to exist by the religious virtue of knowledge.

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    But the religious virtue of knowledge was become a flunkey to the god of material success. She is too one-sided, giving expression now to the spiritual now to the sensual in her. She feels she must take her place in the working world, but she is appalled at its callousness, repelled by the stress on material life so different from the contempt in which it was held in her own home. But the world which makes the emancipation of woman possible is ugly and cold; its sterility suggests death rather than life.

    Winifred, who submits to the machine deliberately, almost cynically, is aware of its power:. It is the same everywhere. What is he at home, a man? He is a meaningless lump—a standing machine, a machine out of work. She 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. How terrible it was! There was a horrible fascination in it—human bodies and lives subjected in slavery to that symmetric monster of the colliery.

    The disintegration is not sudden. We have been made to expect it through the gradual disappearance of stable elements to which the individual can look for support. As they drove home from town, the farmers of the land met the blackened colliers trooping from the pit-mouth. As they gathered the harvest, the west wind brought a faint, sulphu-reous smell of pit-refuse burning. As they pulled the turnips in November, the sharp clink-clink-clink-clink of empty trucks shunting on the line, vibrated in their hearts with the fact of other activity going on beyond them. By a sort of reciprocity man, who felt great in his discovery of the machine, could no longer do without it and became the instrument of the encroaching monster.

    Thus after two generations Ursula finds herself in a much more complex environment than Tom, and her attempt to fit in happily is the more difficult to carry out. However, she knows it is her individual self that matters, and she is aware that the plenitude of her own life will bring her nearer to the greater plenitude of the Infinite. Are you anybody really? You seem like nothing to me. At the bottom of his heart, his self, the soul that aspired and had true hope of self-effectuation lay as dead, stillborn, a dead weight in his womb.

    What was he, to hold important his personal connection? What did a man matter personally? He was just a brick in the whole great social fabric, the nation, the modern humanity. His personal movements were small, and entirely subsidiary. The whole form must be ensured, not ruptured for any personal reason whatsoever, since no personal reason could justify such a breaking.

    What did personal intimacy matter? The Whole mattered—but the unit, the person, had no importance, except as he represented the Whole. And he could not rise from the dead. His soul lay in the tomb. His life lay in the established order of things. He had his five senses too. They were to be gratified. Apart from this, he represented the great, established, extant Idea of life, and as this he was important and beyond question. By clinging to an ideal which has lost its significance, he can only ruin his own self.

    That is why he becomes so utterly helpless:. He could not see, it was not born in him to see that the highest good of the community as it stands is no longer the highest good of even the average individual. Man now serves the community by contributing to its material welfare, for the latter prevails over everything else, and in a humanitarian society it is assumed that everybody has the same rights to it.

    This entails equality on a money basis, which Ursula vehemently rejects:. I hate it that anybody is my equal who has the same amount of money as I have. I know I am better than all of them. I hate them. They are not my equals. I hate equality on a money basis. It is the equality of dirt. According to him, the notion of equality is irrelevant since all men are different in their individuality.

    Strebensky feels righteous and noble because he believes in the equality of men, but he takes no account of the intrinsic being of man and he is unable to buttress up his convictions. This convinces Ursula that he is shallow and lacks manliness. It was a 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 contradistinction to all the rest of life? Wherein was something finite and sad, for the human soul at its maximum wants a sense of the Infinite.

    She tests him a first time and destroys him in a strange communion with the moon. Some time later in college she has an intimation of the real purpose of life:. Suddenly in her mind the world gleamed strangely, with an intense light, like the nucleus of the creature under the microscope. Suddenly she had passed away into an intensely-gleaming light of knowledge. She could not understand what it all was. She only knew that it was not limited mechanical energy, nor mere purpose of self-preservation and self-assertion. It was a consummation, a being infinite.

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    Self was a oneness with the infinite. To be oneself was a supreme, gleaming triumph of infinity. Her momentary fulfilment is opposed to the utter lack of significance of the society in which they live. Even Strebensky realizes that their union is only possible outside the ordinary social sphere:. To make public their connection would be to put it in range with all the things that nullified him, and from which he was for the moment entirely dissociated.

    From that moment, their affair deteriorates. Strebensky is once more put to the test and utterly destroyed in a fantastic moonlight scene. Their experience is fairly similar to that of Gudrun and Gerald in Women in Love. But the rainbow, uniting the visible reality with the unknown, the seen and the unseen, also becomes a symbol of hope in the possibility of transcending the corruption of the world by remaining true to life itself.

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    In Sons and Lovers he threw light on the cultural environment from which he sprang and criticized its stifling character. In The Rainbow he is more detached and can afford to be more sympathetic. He has gone far beyond the English rural community, which he now tries to understand and to view in a much larger perspective.

    He discovers society through men-women relationships because these are to him the nucleus of civilization. They are based on the sexual union, which Lawrence regards as a very important source either of social harmony or of disintegration. For the first generation of Brangwens it is definitely regenerating, for they still live in close connection and in harmony with the natural, non-human world.

    They are still secure in their traditional way of life and unaware of the latent revolution in their community, though at the beginning of his life as an adult and just before he dies Tom is dissatisfied with an environment which shows signs of tiredness and uneasiness. Still, he takes it for granted and does not question its essential values. The conflict starts with the second generation, who no longer take as a matter of course traditionally sure institutions like religion and work: they question their significance or cease to believe in them altogether.

    Through the severance of man from the living cosmos, through the loss of security incurred by the negation of religious faith, through the mechanization of work in which man can no longer realize himself, Lawrence shows the collapse of community life into chaos and the subsequent loss for man of any valuable support. Man is now faced with very complex problems which he finds it the more difficult to solve as his divorce from life provokes a split in himself. Lawrence condemns the new generation, personified in Strebensky, who sacrifice their individuality to the mass and serve society in order to fill the gap left by the absence of real life.

    Their annihilation by the group can only generate death-in-life. To Lawrence the only salvation lies in the individual, who is responsible for his own being and can re-establish the connection with the natural world through personal relationships, more particularly through sexual passion. The coming to consciousness of women leads to their complete freedom. However, when they gain freedom, they find themselves in the same position as men, in the same cold, inhuman world, and must face the same difficulties to realize themselves.

    In The Rainbow Lawrence stresses the responsibility of women for the imposition of thought and ideal in all fields of experience, and he shows that this has led both men and women to a predicament which now requires that they rebuild their relationships on a new, harmonious basis. This will be the more difficult as women have not tried to assert their individuality in conjunction with men, but in separateness, through disengagement from their dependence on them.

    So that instead of working out a relationship on a basis of equality and interdependence, their meeting is a duel in which one tries to dominate the other. Throughout his work Lawrence describes marriage as a contest in which the victory of woman breaks the natural balance which should exist between her and her husband. Only rarely do they achieve a harmonious union: in Women in Love Birkin and Ursula attain that perfect, though very precarious, balance, a pure equilibrium like two stars.

    Whereas The Rainbow was the story of a world in revolution, Women in Love records the consequences of the change, describes what society has become, and seeks a way out of its sterilizing grip. A significant gap separates the sisters from the previous generation at the same age. When Anna was young, she had hardly any alternative to marriage and children. But an emancipated woman need not marry, and when she does, marriage is not an end but an experience which, she hopes, will change her life and enrich it.

    Ursula and Gudrun rather despise marriage, particularly as a means to social position and stability. On the other hand, they are frightened at their own independence, though they would never acknowledge it. They are highly expectant of some kind of fulfilment, which for all their emancipation they cannot get by themselves. Here then are two modern girls, bold and exacting, not afraid to reject traditionally accepted attitudes about which they do not genuinely feel, 23 yet inwardly unsure of them-selves. Most of them feel isolated, dissatisfied with what their environment can offer.

    Except for Birkin and later Ursula, they all represent a negative attitude which frustrates them and destroys them. And they only like to do the collective thing. You have only this, this knowledge. The supremacy of the mind over the body brings a complete break between the two, so that the body, which is constantly ruled by the sterilizing mind-consciousness, becomes incapable of impulsiveness and instinctive living. This reduction of all life and all natural functions to a process of thought is bitterly attacked by Birkin:.

    Knowledge means everything to you. Even your animalism, you want it in your head. It is all purely secondary—and more decadent than the most hide-bound intellectualism. What is it but the worst and last form of intellectualism, this love of yours for passion and the animal instincts? Passion and the instincts—you want them hard enough, but through your head—in your consciousness. It all takes place in your head, under that skull of yours. That is why Birkin cannot believe that Hermione is sincere when she insists on the value of passion without being passionate:.

    You want to clutch things and have them in your power. And why? You have no sensuality. You have only your will and your conceit of consciousness, and your lust for power, to know. So does Carlota in The Plumed Serpent , who associates matrimonial love to the Christian ideal of love and charity and is tragically defeated. Though they are mostly unaware of it, these women use love as a pretext for blackmailing their husbands into submission.

    By controlling all human activities, the mind directs life and thus destroys its spontaneous flow. They become automatic units entirely determined by mechanical law. His affair with Hermione is at a dead end, but he cannot break away from her definitely because he does not yet know how to give expression in his every-day life to his belief in the blood. Lawrence creates the impression that Birkin is groping for his way, gradually rejecting what seems to him meaningless until he distinctly perceives the kind of union he wants with Ursula. The author himself seems to be finding his way along with the character.

    In his communion with nature after Hermione has tried to kill him, Birkin feels weary of the old ethic, of human beings and of humanity as a whole. Dan Jacobson, 25 for instance, writes that this hatred springs from motives which Lawrence does not understand and is unable to make effective in his art, particularly in Women in Love.

    His hatred of humanity is, more than anything, an expression of despair. It seldom goes without a desire to save men, which is itself a confession of love. This contradictory attitude is a salient feature of Women in Love , in which even before he is quite sure of the success of his relationship with Ursula, Birkin craves for a man-to-man relationship that would serve as a basis for a new society. After breaking with Hermione, he escapes death-in-life through his marriage with Ursula:.

    The passion of gratitude with which he received her into his soul, the extreme, unthinkable gladness of knowing himself living and fit to unite with her, he, who was so nearly dead, who was so near to being gone with the rest of his race down the slope of mechanical death, could never be understood by her. He worshipped her as age worships youth, he gloried in her, because in his one grain of faith, he was young as she, he was her proper mate. This marriage with her was his resurrection and his life, pp. There is nothing final about their coming together; the harmony between them is obviously fragile, but it is based on their openness to life, on their determination to hope and to explore new modes of being.

    The latter is too assertive, self-conscious, and unwilling to give herself, and Gerald is incapable of any deep and real relationship:. He would not make any pure relationship with any other soul. He could not. Marriage was not the committing of himself into a relationship with Gudrun. It was a committing of himself in acceptance of the established world, he would accept the established order, in which he did not livingly believe, and he would retreat to the underworld for his life. While his father is dying, he absolutely refuses to sympathize with him; his fear of death makes him reject any connection with the old man.

    Gerald has no inner reserves, and his fear to face his own emptiness makes him shun the reality of death as well as the reality of life. At difficult moments he is convinced that by keeping to conventions, by remaining resolutely faithful to the accepted outward forms of life, he can be master of his own destiny. It is artificially held together by the social mechanism. She is terrified by the noise of a locomotive at a railway crossing, but Gerald forces her to face the passing trucks. The mare is wounded and Gudrun faints when she sees Gerald pressing his spurs in the very wound.

    When she recovers and Gerald rides away, she is. Yet he cannot deal with life, he can only kill it. Gerald is the masculine counterpart of Hermione, but whereas Hermione exerts her power on individuals, Gerald transforms it into an executive capacity which affects people indirectly and on a much wider scale. His purpose is. That is why he insists on the pure instrumentality of mankind, his own included:.

    The sufferings and feelings of individuals did not matter in the least. They were mere conditions like the weather. What mattered was the pure instrumentality of the individual. As a man as of a knife: does it cut well? Nothing else mattered. He knew that position and authority were the right thing in the world, and it was useless to cant about it. They were the right thing for the simple reason that they were functionally necessary. They were not the be-all and the end-all. It was like being part of a machine.

    He himself happened to be a controlling central part, the masses of men were the parts variously controlled. This was merely as it happened. They are gradually destroyed as they become more mechanized, but they are glad to belong to such a powerful system:. There was a new world, a new order, strict, terrible, inhuman, but satisfying in its very destructiveness…. Gerald was just ahead of them in giving them what they wanted, this participation in a great and perfect system that subjected life to pure mathematical principles. This was a sort of freedom, the sort they really wanted. It was the first step in undoing, the first great phase of chaos, the substitution of the mechanical principle for the organic, the destruction of the organic purpose, the organic unity, and the subordination of every organic unit to the great mechanical purpose.

    It was pure organic disintegration and pure mechanical organisation. This is the first and finest state of chaos. They prefer the frank indifference of the son and his admission of their social difference to the necessarily false benevolence of the father, who wished to maintain the illusion that he was one with the men and that they were all equal. He too wanted to impose his will, but he would not admit it frankly, and he tried to compensate for it with lofty feelings; he did not care whether people were deceived or not by his apparent goodness so long as they gratified his need to prove to himself that he led a purposeful existence.

    He even abstained from clarifying his feelings towards his wife and thought of her all his life as a wonderful snow-flower, though he was compelled to transform his hostility towards her into pity to be able to consider her as the ideal wife. Indeed, any form of idealism whatsoever is a form of mechanization since it springs from the intellect and the will, not from the soul.

    He has denied the principles of his father, which were real, notwithstanding the spuriousness of their motives. When his father dies, he feels that he is losing ground, that he is not ready to assume his role as a leading member of the community, because he has nothing to offer as a uniting principle:. The whole unifying idea of mankind seemed to be dying with his father, the centralizing force that had held the whole together seemed to collapse with his father, the parts seemed ready to go asunder in terrible disintegration. Gerald was as if left on board of a ship that was going asunder beneath his feet, he was in charge of a vessel whose timbers were all coming apart.

    Having finally succeeded, he is horrified at his own emptiness. And now, with something of the terror of a destructive child, he saw himself on the point of inheriting his own destruction. But these forms of escape fail to redeem him, so that his association with a woman like Gudrun seems to offer a way out towards salvation. From the first their relationship is a kind of contest; although there is something fatal about their meeting and mutual attraction, Gudrun knows that they will never be together. She is soon dissatisfied because she realizes that Gerald only wants sensual gratification.

    Yet, she is hardly capable of giving him anything else, because she is always on the defensive, afraid to betray herself, unwilling to give herself whole, meeting him only as the victim or the victor in moments of great physical passion. They fail to come together because they both refuse to face life responsibly. Since work, marriage, and friendship have become meaningless, they acknowledge the prevailing nothingness and turn with a vengeance to their own self-destruction, rather than attempt, like Birkin and Ursula, to test the value of a new faith.

    Yet both Gerald and Birkin start from a dead end; they both feel let down, disappointed and free to engage in a new course of life.

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    What am I to do myself? He never gives up hope, never ceases to question or to explore the possibilities of life. Both he and Gudrun prefer to ignore the potential richness of marriage. In the conflict between them Gudrun is the strongest; Gerald has come to depend too heavily on her like Strebensky on Ursula to be able to subdue her. This is what the complete separation between body and mind, mind-consciousness on the one hand and mindless sensuality on the other, leads to:. The white races, having the arctic north behind them, the vast abstraction of ice and snow, would fulfil a mystery of ice-destructive knowledge, snow-abstract annihilation.

    His tragedy is the tragedy of contemporary society. But this death is a bitter thing to Birkin. You are all women to me. But I wanted a man friend, as eternal as you and I are eternal. In Women in Love the theme is secondary to the presentation of men-women relationships, though the fact that Lawrence starts exploring it makes it clear that fulfilment does not lie in happiness as such but in continued investigation of the possibilities of life.

    Birkin is aware that the union he has successfully achieved with Ursula frees them as individuals but puts them outside the ordinary sphere of society: they have already left it symbolically by resigning from work immediately after their coming together, and they reject conventional marriage to meet on a much higher plane. But it must happen. You always seem to think you can force the flowers to come out. However fulfilled a man may feel in his bond with a woman and however close with the universe, if he is segregated from his fellow-men, he is cut off from an essential part of life.

    Lawrence is led to acknowledge that the individual cannot live isolated from society or at least from a group, however small. He can be destroyed as Gerald is destroyed by being forced to acknowledge his own emptiness. He can also wander like Gudrun, forever divided and frustrated because of her incapacity to reconcile her intense sensuality with her sharp mind-consciousness, because also of her insatiable and destructive will-to-power.

    By contrast, the other couple seems the more successful. The old hierarchical order is first replaced by paternalism, a system in which the pretence of a relationship is being substituted for a real bond between men. That the benevolent master does not really love nor wield power is obvious from the dissatisfaction of both master and workers in Women in Love. The master attempts to ignore his inner emptiness, and the workers, who despise him, lose the sense of obligation inherent in a real mutual relationship.

    Their children find themselves in a society in which all bonds between men have been loosened or distorted. It is from this inhuman society that Birkin wants to escape. He alone is aware of the process which has destroyed the hierarchical order and replaced it by a society which denies men the freedom to be themselves.

    But he could not rest satisfied with individual salvation out of a social context. Birkin had already asserted the inequality of men, i. But when he realizes that his first duty is to keep his inner self intact, Aaron struggles to live according to a new apprehension of good and evil. This scene is better than similar confrontations between Birkin and Hermione or Somers and Harriet, because neither Aaron nor his wife can give a rational explanation of their attitude. Vandevere Michael Keaton , who recruits the peculiar pachyderm for his newest, larger-than-life entertainment venture, Dreamland.

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