The emerging woman of the twentieth century : a study of the women in D.H. Lawrence's novels The rainbow and Women in love
The purpose of this study was to trace the development of Lawrence's women from the beginning of his novel The Rainbow to the conclusion of the novel, Women In Love. The analysis is based on Lawrence's promise to do more for women in these novels than had suffrage, and his detailed prescription for what he termed a "unified being" as written in Psychoanalysis and the Unconscious and Fantasia of the Unconscious.The research was planned to determine whether or not Lawrence had actually fulfilled his promise to women in these two novels, and also to determine the theoretical process which he applied to the actions and characters in order to bring about his promised fulfillment. The organization of the study follows chronologically from the beginning of The Rainbow through Women In Love.Since the novels are constructed around a series of confrontations between men and women this study begins with Lydia and Tom Brangwen and follows with their daughter Anna and her husband Will Brangwen. The next major figure is Ursula, daughter of Anna and Will, and finally Ursula and Gudrun Brangwen are the major figures of the last section.With each character Lawrence attempts to show the success or failure of the women in their attempts to be freed from the restrictions of duties of marriage, home, the church, and society which had held them in bondage. With Lydia Brangwen, Lawrence illustrates a fulfilled union between a man and a woman, but more importantly establishes the precedent of the woman taking the lead in the relationship, allowing her to awaken and be a fulfilled being. She is thus a better wife because she also awakens his conscious awareness, and a more complete woman because she is freed to follow a creative life.Finally, through Ursula, Lawrence shows the way to fulfillment, and through Gudrun the way to suffering in the modern age. His menage is a combination of prophecy and mystery. His theory of the woman attaining freedom for the woman while giving this same to the man approaches a religion in that the woman must learn first her connection with the vital forces of life. The results are an absorbing belief in herself as an equal partner in the man-woman relationship.Lawrence issues several warnings to women in his novels which expose the barriers to freedom and fulfillment. The evils of technology and industry, of social pressures, of literal interpretation of religion, of extreme intellectualism, and of art without humanism all present ways in which women are deprived cf that vital force which is rooted in human nature. What Lawrence constructs initially is that theoretical balance of the erotic and mental poles, achieved through sexual fulfillment and the resulting self-fulfillment. His characters dramatize the success or failure of his system. But finally he gives us the impression that the system leads to acceptance of the unknown.The final success of Birkin and Ursula is not a categorical conclusion, but a suggestion that through their mutual and harmonious understanding of each other and of self, they have accepted the promise of life, not the finality. They believe in progression into the ever-fading limits of life, as the rainbow promises. Birkin and Ursula have gone through a resurrection. They see no limits, no longer feel pain or are conscious of domination from any source. They know and understand the world and can now make it work for them, free to love and free to continue life with satisfaction.Lawrence attempts in the beginning to present a panacea for the liberation of women. But in the last part of the novel, Women in Love, the impression is that the ideal is not finite; one must continue even after the promise has been fulfilled. Birkin is still somewhat disappointed that he could not form a relationship--equally satisfying to the human being--with another man, namely Gerald Crich. He feels that it is still possible. Ursula is doubtful. For her, he is enough, and his suggestion of a similar relationship with a man shocks her into stating that she thinks it impossible and perverse. This is the conclusion of the novel and leaves Lawrence and the reader with a question. Is the ultimate brotherhood of man possible, or will he continue blindly to destroy himself?Through his mystical and prophetic novels, Lawrence does attempt to equalize the sexes in a fulfilling relationship. He does believe that there must be that mystical, unconscious union between lovers before they can achieve fulfillment in life. He does believe that sex can be the method whereby human beings find the vital force of sustenence necessary to life. And finally, he believes that the woman must emerge from her nineteenth-century subservience to the will of the male, and must seek through and with him a "new love" for the twentieth century.