The Rainbow is one of DH Lawrence’s most controversial works. It was banned in Great Britain when it was first published. The Rainbow introduced sexual life into a family-based novel, portraying a visionary quest for love by three generations of English men and women.
Ursula Brangwen is the main character of the novel, and her goal in the book is to achieve a good and peaceful relationship with her lover Skrebensky. When they first met, Ursula had found him to be very beautiful. “He was a young man of twenty-one, with a slender figure and soft brown hair brushed up in the German fashion straight from his brow” (p. 268).
For many years they had a lively and active relationship. When Skrebensky asked Ursula to marry him, she replied saying that she never wanted to be married. He made groping movements to get out of his chair. But he was crying uncontrollably, noiselessly, with his face twisted like a mask, contorted and the tears running down the amazing grooves in his cheeks. (p.433)
This quote shows the mental torment that he felt when she told him that she did not wish to marry him. He left her after this. She was subjected to a deep feeling of remorse and regret. Ursula’s awakening comes very near the end of the book.
She is thinking about Skrebensky and why she feels so empty and lifeless. She realizes that she is pregnant. Suddenly a shock ran through her, so violent that she thought she was struck down. Was she with child? She had been so stricken under the pain of herself and of him, this had never occurred to her.
Now like a flame it took hold of her limbs and body. Was she with child? (p. 449) She realized that she had been wrong in not wanting to marry Skrebensky. She had imagined that she could not have her freedom with him, but she realized that she could have more. She had been wrong, she had been arrogant and wicked, wanting that other thing, that fantastic freedom, that illusory, conceited fulfillment which she had imagined she could not have with Skrebensky. (p. 449)
The Rainbow appeared and she realized that she could have love and a family, and that would make her happier than simply freedom. She immediately sat down to write him and tell him that she loved him. Ursula decided that she would not only marry for her sake, but for her child also.
This is a recurrence of the beginning of the book, which although not very relevant to the story of Ursula and Skrebensky, still has the same motive. Tom Brangwen marries a Polish widow because he loved her and she had a child who needed a father. The Rainbow is one of Lawrence’s best works.
The characters are real people living out their lives, and Lawrence invites you to become a member of the Brangwen Family. This is definitely one of my favorite novels.
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