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Control work V-VIII

(Материалы предоставлены Ириной, студенткой НГЛУ)

The Rainbow

D. H. Lawrence


 1. Give the plot of the set-book (3 pages).


“The Rainbow” by D. H. Lawrence is a family chronicle relating the history of the ancient Brangwen family of March Farm, on the Derbyshire-Nottinghamshire border. Tom Brangwen marries the vicar's housekeeper, a Polish widow called Lydia who has a daughter already named Anna from her first marriage. Tom takes the child close to his heart. And soon the bond between the stepfather and the child deepens. He, "turned to the little girl for her sympathy and her love, he appealed with all his power to the small Anna. So soon they were like lovers, father and child." Anna grows up and marries Will Brangwen, Tom’s nephew, a craftsman and draughtsman at a lace factory; they move into Yew Tree Cottage, Cossethay. They have a large family of which the two oldest are Ursula and Gudrun. Ursula becomes the LEFT SINGLE QUOTATION MARKchild of her father’s heart’, and the interest of the novel gradually shifts to her developing consciousness. But then a dramatic moment comes. When she is about 8 her grandfather is drowned one night when the canal embankment bursts, and Ursula becomes more and more interested in her grandmother and her Polish heritage(наследие).  This interest is intensified when she meets Anton Skrebensky, the son of one of Lydia's old Polish friends, Baron Skrebensky who had one day married an Englishwoman. Ursula and Anton are soon in love, but he departs for the Boer war, leaving her to finish school. She has a brief but intense relationship with a schoolmistress (Winifred, who marries her uncle, colliery manager Tom Brangwen), then matriculates, and resolves to earn her living as a teacher, somewhat against her parents’ wishes. Her struggles at a poor school in Ilkeston are based on Lawrence’s own teaching experience there (1902-6). Will Brangwen is then appointed Art and Handwork instructor for the county of Nottingham, and the family move to Beldover, with Ursula embarking on a three year B.A. course, and Gudrun on a course at the Art School. Anton returns, and they renew their relationship, become engaged, and plan to go out to India together, but Ursula breaks it off and Anton hurriedly marries his colonel's daughter. The novel ends with Ursula emerging from a spell of illness and suffering (and an implied miscarriage) to ponder a rainbow arching symbolically over the hideous industrial landscape which provides the setting for all their lives. The story is deliberately incomplete, because Lawrence intended to continue with Ursula and Gudrun in “Women in Love”.


2. Do a complete interpretation of a chapter (a passage) from the book.

 D.H.Lawrence is one of the most prominent writers of the early 20th century, a master of psychological novels. “The Rainbow” is an innovative work spanning three generations of the Brangwen family. In this dark, brooding novel Lawrence depicts the passions involved in their everyday lives.

Well, I’d like to start my speaking on the chapter with saying a few words about the impression that it has produced on me. Formulating it in the plain terms of good and bad, I’d say it is basically good, though the mood and the feeling I’ve experienced are a kind of sad. Indeed, the extract creates a mood and an atmosphere. The former is sad but the latter is just philosophical. The light sadness that I feel here is resting on the problem that’s in the center of the whole novel. The problem is a person’s attempt to find his place in life, to understand the sense of life and to be understood by others.

The plot is rather simple, though not quite plain as it presents the actual events intermingled with the main character’s reminiscences and thoughts. This is a philosophical story for a discerning reader who has to read between the lines. There’s not much action in the extract, it’s, basically, a description of thoughts, feelings and motives of a personage. Composition-wise the chapter is traditional: it starts with the exposition, proceeds with the climax and ends up with the outcome. This plays its certain positive role by means of involving the reader gradually as the plot is developing logically, step by step. The reader is smoothly sliding down into the content.  This episode is a good combination of reflection, meditation and description. There is an inner monologue of the protagonist. Such combination of many different styles in this episode testifies to incomparable Lawrence’s skills as a talented writer. The author’s language is expressive and colourful when he gives descriptions. Speaking of the linguistic peculiarities, the author uses a lot of sharp laconic questions. Surely, it imparts more expressiveness to the extract.

The scene is laid in Beldover, the county of Nottingham. The main character of the extract, I’d rather say of the whole novel, is Ursula Brangwen. She breaks off her engagement with Anton Skrebensky, the man she was once in love with, she finds out that she is going to have a baby from him. She writes to him a letter in order to renew their engagement. But one day she decides to take a walk and think everything over. A terrible accident happens to her: a herd of wild horses attacks her. She is almost unconscious; and she feels badly for a fortnight. She loses her child and gets the answer from Anton . He informs her that he is married. She is glad that everything has turned out that way. She grows better and feels renewed. And she sees the Rainbow standing over the earth and a lot of new thoughts of her own life capture her.

I find this episode very psychological and involving. It lets us see the inner world of the main character, her fears and her problems. It lets us  understand her better. I can divide the extract into two parts. The first one, concerning the accident, is very expressive and descriptive. And the second one, when Ursula watches the Rainbow standing over the earth and remains alone with her sensations, feelings, and thoughts.   

 In the first part of the episode the author shows us the conflict of the type “Man against himself”. We can see that Ursula is fighting against herself. She is going to have a baby and she wants this baby. But it forces her to marry Anton. She wants to create a family for the child. But at the same time she understands that there will be no success in this marriage. Anton and she are so different. They have different values.

She is a lost sole, a free spirit wandering around trying to find a meaning in life.

He has no depth, “no soul”, a superficial man playing with the idea of love but never actually feeling the sensitivity of it.

The conflict in question is intensified by means of introducing a number of short rhetorical questions:

“What was she doing? Was she bearing a child? Bearing a child? To what?”

As I have already said the first part of this chapter is very expressive. And such expressiveness is created by the author by using a great deal of metaphors, similes, descriptive epithets. It is made on purpose. The author wanted to reproduce the exact feelings of his personage, the realism of the atmosphere, it’s brightness and vividness:

“”…she walked the open space where hawthorn trees streamed like hair on the wind and round bushes were presences showing through the atmosphere. It was very splendid, free and chaotic”.

“She felt like a bird that has flown in through the window of a hall where vast warriors sit at the board. Between their grave, booming ranks she was hastening, assuming she was unnoticed, till she emerged, with beating heart, through the far window and out into the open, upon the vivid green, marshy meadow”.

The tension is increasing when the girl understands the danger and a herd of wild horses attacks her. The corresponding atmosphere is created by means of using short, terse, laconic sentences:

“They were behind her. The way was open before her…Her way was clear. She lulled her heart. Yet her heart was couched with fear, couched with fear all along”.

The effect of increasing tension is achieved by the deliberate repetition. We can see it in the last sentence of the above quotation.

And again the author uses an instance of simile in order to show the reader the feelings and that very state of the girl:

“Her heart was gone, her limbs were dissolved, she was dissolved like water”.


In the second part of the episode, Ursula watches the Rainbow. And she realizes that it symbolizes the “arch” or the circle of life that the characters themselves actually form. And this arch of the Rainbow is one separate family within one large Brangwen family. This is where Ursula finds that she is a part of this arch with her family and she realizes that she does posses many of her families’ traits, and she can accept it and complete the arc.

 The Rainbow is personification of a new world which has just opened to the girl, new thoughts, new feelings. The rainbow is a new serene life.

  I suppose that the author wanted to show us a long way full of difficulties and barriers that a person should overcome in order to find his place in life, his certain place and purpose. He wanted us to understand that very often people have to struggle in order to get to know who they are and what they are for. People have to struggle with themselves mostly, not with the world around them. And what is of utmost importance is to become the winner in this struggle, to win yourself and to look at your life otherwise.   




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