THE CONCEPT OF CHARACTER IN THE
MAJOR NOVELS OF I). 11. LAWRENCE
Donald Roger Eastman III
A Dissertation Presented to the Graduate Council
of the University of Florida
in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the
Degree of Doctor of Philosophy
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
517NIys F 6LORIDA
3 1262 08552 61'2t 1
For providing me with the financial benefits of an
NDEA Title IV Fellowship for three years, T would like to
thank the American taxpayer.
For their countless efforts to teach me what it means
to be a member of a true community of scholars, I would
like to thank Mr. Vincent Leitch and ProFessor Ward Hell-
For their unconditional affection -au loyalty, I thank
my parents and my wife. Aliens pcdibus ambulamus.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS . . . . .
ABSTRACT . . . . . . . .
I THE STUDY OF THOMAS HARDY:
LITERARY PRINCIPLES . . . .
II HARDY INTO LAWRENCE: CHANGING
TIE MOLD . . . . . .
III CONNECTING THE OLD AND THE NEW:
A STUDY OF THE CHARACTERS OF
THE RAINBOW . . . . . .
IV WORLD'S END: THE CHARACTERS OF
WOMEN IN LOVE . . . . .
V FROM ART TO AXTOM: LAWRENCE'S
LESSER NOVELS . . . . .
SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY . . . . . .
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH . . . . . .
. . 1
. . 40
. . 72
. . 112
. . 153
. . 169
. . 181
Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate Council
of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy
THE CONCEPT OF CHARACTER IN THE
MAJOR NOVELS OF D. H1. LAWRENCE
Donald Roger Eastman III
Chairman: Ward Hellstrom
Major Department: English
In order to create the new kind of novel seen in The
Rainbow and Women in Love, D. II. Lawrence developed a new
kind of character, "another ego, according to whose action
the individual--is.,unrecognisable, and passes through .
allotropic states." This study attempts to trace the
development of that new form of character from its germi-
nation in Sons and Lovers and development in The Rainbow
to its culmination in Liomen in Love.
The Study of Thomas Hardy (1914) provides an expository
commentary on Lawrence's primary interest in character and
in the primal, cosmic forces which motivate and govern
character. Focusing on the Study, the first chapter of my
dissertation outlines the central principles of Lawrence's
theory of aesthetics, particularly those related to character.
But the Study not only provides a set of literary principles
from which Lawrence takes his departure in The Rainbow and
Women in Love; it is also an indirect commentary on Sons
and Lovers. In the second chapter, then, I use Lawrence's
criticism of Hardy to reveal the central indebtedness of
that novel to Hardy's Jude the Obscure. The characters of
Sons and Lovers are apparently adopted from Thomas Hardy
and adapted to Lawrence's personal world view. There is a
sense in which Lawrence rewrites Hardy to his own satis-
faction, as a close analysis of the Study and Sons and
Lovers makes clear.
Chapters III and IV deal with the characters of The
Rainbow and Women in Love, respectively. These characters
grow out of the character types established in Sons and
Lovers, and develop along the lines established in the Hardy
Study. While there is a continual modification and rework-
ing of these types, there is nonetheless a pattern of philo-
sophical and aesthetic development which culminates in the
typed, "fated" characters of Women in Love. Lawrence is
seen to employ acter types from other Hardy novels,
froi aythic characters nd analogues, and from his own pre-
vious s Often spVeral opposing types are combined in
one character (such as Gerald Critch, who is both Dionysus
and Apollo), in order to dramatize the internal conflicts
of the character. The psychic disposition of a character
has always, for Lawrence, profound implications not only
for the fate of the indiviJual, but for the future of society
as well. Defining these implications is the major interpre-
tative burden of this dissertation.
Chapter V cx'mines L:. rence's demise as a major novel-
ist after Wonen in Love, id finds the chief problem of the
later novels to lie in thl author's inability to allow
character to riqe above its metaphysical, or allegorical,
burden. Ironically, the vxry failures of art Lawrence sees
in Hardy and To-tli in the Study prove his own downfall as
THE STUDY OF THOMAS HARDY:
I have been, and I have returned.
I have mounted up on the wings of the morning,
and I have dredged down to the
Which is my way, being man.
God may stay in mid-heaven, the Son of Man
has climbed to the Whitsun zenith,
But I, Matthew, being a man
Am a traveller back and forth.
So be it.
D. H. Lawrence, St. Matthew
"The state does not want to be; it wants
John Fowles, The Aristos
In the essay "Surgery for the Novel -- or a Bomb,"
first published in April, 1923,1 D. H. Lawrence proclaimed
the function and mode of the new novel. The new direction
of fiction should not adopt the "absorbedly self-conscious,
senile-precocious" form of Joyce and Proust. Lawrence
called for a return to the form of the Platonic Dialogues,
to a combination of fiction and metaphysic, and this re-
turn required for Lawrence a new conception of character.
The recombination of art and philosophy should be effected
in order to "present us with new, really new feelings, a
whole line of new emotion, which will get us out of the
It seems to me it was the greatest pity in
the world, when fiction and philosophy got
split. They used to be one, right from the
days of myth. Then they went and parted,
like a nagging married couple, with Aristotle
and Thomas Aquinas and that beastly Kant.
So the novel went sloppy, and philosophy
went abstract-dry. The two should come to-
gether again -- in the novel.
In the Study of Thomas Hardy, the central formulation of
the Laurentian metaphysic, the same directions for the
novel are outlined:
It is the novelists and dramatists who
have the hardest task in reconciling their
metaphysics, their theory of being and know-
ing, with their living sense of being.
Because a novel is a microcosm, and because
man in viewing the universe must view it in
light of a theory, therefore every novel
must have the background or the structural
skeleton of some theory of being, some meta-
The concluding sentences of the paragraph are crucial:
"But the metaphysic must always subserve the artistic pur-
pose beyond the artist's conscious aim. Otherwise the
novel becomes a treatise." Lawrence's "most pretentious
critical work," as Edward McDonald calls the Study of
Thomas Hardy, is not only an attempt to formulate a phi-
losophy of "being and knowing," it is also Lawrence's
effort to work out his own literary principles of the novel,
to articulate how the novel works, or should work. Law-
rence is, above all, an artist; and the effort to construct
a metaphysical system is at all times a prolegomena to the
construction of an artistic base for his fiction. The
entire Study, running to 118 pages in the Phoenix, leads
to a conceptual framework of what the "supreme art" will
be and, more importantly, how that art will be generated
in the novel.
The Study's focus on character is evident from Law-
rence's first mention of it in a letter written on July 15,
1914, to Edward Marsh: "I am going to write a little book
on Hardy's people."3 The Study of Thomas Hardy is, as Law-
rence himself wrote to J. B. Pinker on September 5th,
"about anything but Thomas Hardy."4 It will, in fact, be
primarily about Lawrence, as he admits to Amy Lowell in a
letter of November 18th: "I am finishing a book, supposed
to be on Thomas Hardy, but in reality a sort of Confession
of my Heart."5 The initial center of concentration, how-
ever, is maintained throughout the Study. Whenever the
art of Hardy is considered (in three of the Study's ten
chapters), the focus rests squarely on "Hardy's people,"
on character. Calling Eustacia and Clym or Tess and Jude
"people" rather than characters is natural for Lawrence,
and indicative of his esthetic principles: Lawrence does
not make sharp distinctions between the laws of life and
those of art. For Lawrence, art is art because it pro-
vides vantage points from which to view life, vantage
points which are inaccessible in real life. This is the
implication of Lawrence's vindicative comments on the "un-
reasonable things"6 that Hardy's characters do.
Throughout his work, Lawrence had a conviction that
the novel could do what it has never done in the past. He
believed that the novel could be both a prophetic book and
a testing ground for metaphysical hypotheses. Thus in the
famous ninth chapter of Lady Chatterley's Lover, he says
that "here lies the vast importance of the novel, properly
handled. It can inform and lead into new places the flow
of our sympathetic consciousness, and it can lead our sym-
pathy away in recoil from things gone dead." In a sense
the novel is a laboratory in which the artist works out
the possibilities of human life through his characters.
At the center of the Study, then, is character, in
both the metaphysical and literary concerns of the essay.
As Lawrence's most exhaustive essay on this subject, the
Study must be recognized as a most important aid to under-
standing Lawrence's developing concept of character.
Furthermore, the proximity of the composition of the Study
to Lawrence's major novels makes the comments of the form-
er particularly pertinent to the latter. As George H.
Ford has said, "it is commonly noted that Lawrence's de-
scriptions of English landscape resemble those of Hardy,
yet the real affinity is a more significant one. In his
perceptive (although garrulous) essay on his much admired
predecessor, Lawrence's analysis of Hardy's view of human
relationships often seems to be an analysis of his own
novels. .. What he said of Ilardy's heroes and heroines
applies even more fittingly to his own."7 What I shall
argue in this study, however, is not that the Study of
Thomas Hardy presents the precise critical formulations
about character which The Rainbow and Women in Love make
manifest in art; rather, that the Study should be regarded
as a most helpful background for an understanding of Law-
rence's unique "people" in thnoe novels. It will become
evident that the theories of the expository Study are modi-
fied and reformulated in the imaginative art of the novels.
Quite simply, I will argue that the Study of Thonas Hardy
(1914) is, at least in part, an indirect commentary on the
characters of Sons and Lovers (1913), and that an under-
standing of the essay is most helpful for an understand-
ing of that novel. Furthermore, the characters of The
Rainbow seem to grow out of Sons and Lovers while also
bearing evidence of Hardian ancestry. As "a potential
sequel to The Rainbow," Women in Love repeats this pattern
of reworking old characters to develop new ones, and in
this novel the long-sought balance of fiction and meta-
physic is achieved in a new kind of character. An aware-
ness of this process of modification will increase our
understanding of all of Lawrence's characters.
Before passing on to an examination of precisely what
it is that Lawrence sees in Hardy's characters, and the
implicative principles which Lawrence affirms, a good deal
of another letter should be quoted. This letter, which is
concerned with the same problems central to the Study of
Thomas Hardy, has become perhaps the most important letter
Lawrence ever wrote, offering, as it does, suggestive com-
ments for understanding what is new in Lawrence's best
novels of new form: The Rainbow and W''oren in Love. Writ-
ten one month before the Study was begun, the letter is a
defense of Lawrence's "attitude to my characters" in The
Wedding Ring, the name for the intermediate novel between
the manuscripts of The Sisters and the finished versions
of The Rainbow and its sequel, Women in Love. The letter
was written to Edward Garnett, and is dated June 5, 1914.
The necessity for such lengthy quotation will, 1 trust,
I don't agree with you about The Wedding
Rine. . .I don't think the psychology is
wrong: it is only that I have a different
attitude to my characters, and that necessi-
tates a different attitude in you, which you
are not prepared to give. . When I read
Marinetti -- 'the profound intuitions of life
added one to the other, word by word, accord-
ing to their illogical conception, will give
us the general lines of an intuitive physiology
of matter' -- I see something of what i am
after. . I don't care about the physiology
of matter -- but somehow -- that which is physic
-- non-human, in humanity, is more interesting
to me than the old-fashioned human element --
which causes one to conceive a character in a
certain moral scheme and make him consistent.
The certain moral scheme is what I object to.
fn Turgencv, and in Tolstoi, and in Dostoievsky,
the moral scheme into which all the characters
fit -- and it is nearly the same scheme -- is,
whatever the extraordinariness of the charac-
ters themselves, dull, old, dead . it is
the inhuman will, call it physiology, or like
Marinetti -- physiology of matter, that fasci-
nates me. I don't so much care about what the
woman feels -- in the ordinary usage of the
word. That presumes an ego to feel with. I
only care about what the woman is -- what she
IS -- inhumanly, physiologically, materially
-- according to the use of the word: but for
me, what she is as a phenomenon (or as repre-
senting some greater, inhuman will), instead
of what she feels according to the human con-
ception. . You mustn't look in my novel
for the old stable ego -- of the character.
There is another ego, according to whose
action the individual is unrecognisable, and
passes through, as it were, allotropic states
which it needs a deeper sense than any we've
been used to exercise, to discover are states
of the same single radically unchanged element.
(Like ra, diamond and coal are the same pure
single element of carbon. The ordinary novel
would d trace the history of the diamond -- but
I say, 'Diamond, what! This is carbon.' And
my dianond might be coal or soot, and my theme
:is carbon.). . Again I say, don't look for
the development of the novel to follow the
lines o certain characters: the characters
fall into the form of some other rhythmic form,
as whe. one draws a fiddle-bow across a fine
tray dcjicaceiy sanded, the sand takes lines
In the postscript, Lawrence adds: "Please keep this let-
ter, becTatse I1 'ant to write on futurism and it will help
The letter is quoted at such length because it sounds
all the themes and presents all the problems to which this
thesis addresses itself: the delineation of Lawrence's
concepts of character in both principle end practice.
There is a sense in which my entire inquiry into Lawrence's
concept of character may be seen as an attempt to decipher
the meaning of this letter. With the qualified exception
of Mark Schorer, no critic has yet elucidated the issues
voiced in this letter, which George HI. Ford calls "fre-
quently quoted but rarely explained,"9 and which Harry T.
Moore names "Lawrence's manifesto."10
The first two chapters of the Study are groundwork,
a fanciful prologue to the study of Hardy. The first chap-
ter is called "The Beginning of the Argument," and the
second is "Still Introductory." In a tone reminiscent of
the narrator of Tom Jones, Lawrence ranges over a wide vari-
ety of subjects in an almost playful manner, talking of pop-
pies and phoenixes and cave men, Dido and Christ, women's
suffrage, laws, war, and the poor. The "structural skele-
ton," however, with which he will examine Hardy's novels
and inform his own, is already being built. "The most
striking feature of Lawrence's weltanschauung is its dual-
ism," says H. M. Daleski in The Forked Flame,ll and this
is certainly the structural method by which the entire
Study proceeds from the outset.
"The systole of man's heartbeat," says Lawrence in the
opening paragraph of the Study, "his strenuous purpose,
unremitting," is self-preservation -- "which has at length
become overblown and extravagant." Opposing and contra-
dicting "this unappeased rage of selP servation," how-
ever, "the diastole of the heartbea 2 s toward procrea-
tion and artistic creation (activities which, for Lawrence,
involve the same energies). From this capital duality
outlined in the first two paragraphs of the Study, all
others follow: machine v. man, working v. living, exist-
ing v. being, and female v. male.
To dramatize such polarities, Lawrence uses symbols
and Xabhles rather than systematic analysis. Thus the ant
and the grasshopper, the "ancient paleolithic man" and his
educated grandson, the poppy and the cabbage all serve to
present the dualistic conflict and to symbolize an abstrac-
tion. The favorite system of metaphor, however, is that
of the life process of the flower. People concerned solely
with self-preservation (as most people are), live "without
ever bursting the bud, the tight economical bud of caution
and thrift and self-preservation" (401); but "the final
aim [oE life] is the flower . the magical spurt of
being . into fullness of self" (403).*
*Cf. Lawrence's "A Plan" (Collected Poems, p. 524):
All I care about in a man
is that unbroken spark in him
where he is himself
All the problems of Europe, Lawrence proposes, arise
from the failure of the people to assert their own unique
individuality of self (406). "The earnest people of today
serve at the old, second-rate altar of self-preservation"
(404), and for these people, immured in society, convention,
and work, only passing time ("the tick-tock of birth and
death") is eternal. For the phoenix, the poppy, and the
true individual, only the self is eternal.* The war, for
example (and here Lawrence is talking expressly about World
War I), is being waged because man will embrace no other
way of manifesting his desire to break out of the prison of
security, caution, self-love, and self-preservation. Man
is afraid to risk a rebellion to live, he "can only die.
And this is the only good that can result from the
'world disaster'" that we realize once more that self-
preservation is not the final goal of life. . That
will free us, perhaps, from our crazed desire to live
"under the shelter of the social frame" (407). The war
*Cf. Lawrence's remarks in the Preface to the American
Edition of New Poems (1920): "Life, the ever-present,
knows no finality, no finished crystallisation. The per-
fect rose is only a running flame, emerging and flowing
off, and never in any sense at rest, static, finished.
Give me the still, white seething, the incandescence
and the coldness of the incarnate moment: the moment,
the quick of all change and haste and opposition: the
moment, the immediate present, the Now."
may give us, Lawrence hopes, "some new courage to let go
the securities, and to be" (408).*
Most men foolishly view themselves as an economic ob-
ject, as a "moneyed or unmoneyed thing." But "neither
money or non-money matters supremely"; what matters is the
fire and color of the poppy, the light of the self creat-
ing the self into being. This essential spark of the self
is the alternative to the desire for self-preservation, and
by this spark alone .is a man truly able to live his life:
"like a poppy that has come to bud when [a man] has
traversed his known and come to the beach to meet the un-
known, he must strip himself naked and plunge in . if
he dare" (409). This is, of course, the Kierkegnardian
*Cf. "Manifesto," pt. VI: "To be, or not to be, is
still the question./This ache for being is the ultimate
hunger," Collected Poems, p. 265.
Alse cf. Lawrence's letter of January 17, 1913, to
Ernest Collings, Letters, ed. Huxley, p. 93: "We have
forgotten ourselves. We are Hamlet without the Prince of
Denmark. We cannot be. 'To be or not to be' -- it is
the question with us now, by Jove. And nearly every
Englishman says 'Not to be.' So he goes in for Humani-
tarianism and suchlike forms of not-being. The real way
of living is to answer to one's wants. Net 'I want to
light up with my intelligence as many things as possible'
but 'For the living of my full flame -- I want that liber-
ty, I want that woman, I want that pound of peaches, I
want to go to sleep, I want to go to the pub and have a
good time, I want to look a beastly swell today, I want
to kiss that girl, I want to insult that man.' Instead
of that, all these wants, which are there whether-or-not,
are utterly ignored, and we talk about some sort of ideas.
I'm like Carlyle, who, they say, wrote 50 volumes on the
value of silence."
leap of faith into the existential abyss, and it is the
supreme moment by which all men are judged in the Lauren-
In this rather unusual determination of the possibili-
ties for good in war, Lawrence hits the ethical and onto-
logical nerve of the twentieth century. In The Courage to
Be, Paul Tillich finds Socrates' inability to define cour-
age in the Platonic dialogue Laches more important than most
of the apparently more successful definitions of courage
(including those of Plato himself, and of Aristotle). "An
understanding of courage," says Tillich, "presupposes an
understanding of man and of his world, its structures and
values. . Courage can show us what being is, and being
can show us what courage is.'13 Tillich goes on to define
the courage to be in terms that both locate Lawrence in the
mainstream of contemporary theology and isolate what must
be considered Lawrence's ethical imperative: "The courage
to be is the ethical act in which man affirms his own being
in spite of those elements of his existence which conflict
with his essential self-affirmation."14
Despite Lawrence's later reading of the Greek and Roman
philosophers (at the behest of Bertrand Russell), neither in
the Study nor in any of the later works does he affirm the
Stoic concepts of courage or being, which Tillich formulates
as "the courage to affirm one's own reasonable nature over
against what is accidental in us . ., the courage to
affirm our own rational nature."15 Indeed, it is precisely
in "what is accidental in us" that Lawrence glories, with
much the same zeal as Gerard ManLey Hopkins in a poem like
"Pied Beauty," in which the poet praises God for
All things counter, original spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim.
In the context of Tillich's discussion of the contrast in
the valuation of the individual in the ancient and modern
attitudes, Lawrence's position would seem to be that of a
modern extremist: "While the ancient world valued the in-
dividual not as an individual but as a representative of
something universal, e.g., a virtue, the rebirth of antiq-
uity saw in the individual as an individual a unique expres-
sion of the universe, incomparable, irreplaceable, and of
And yet Lawrence does not fit into the tradition of
modern Western philosophy, with respect to the ontology of
courage, as Tillich defines it. Both Spinoza and Nietzsche,
regarded by Tillich as the central philosophers of being in
our culture,17 agree that the central activity of life is
self-affirmation, but neither distinguishes between the
self-affirming and self-preserving impulses or activities,
a distinction central to the Laurentian dualism. Indeed,
the central problems of character and value in Lawrence
build upon the conflict between the self-preserving and the
self-fulfilling forces, between the ego and the self.
This primary duality of self-preservation vs. self-
fulfillment having been constructed, Lawraec begins the
third chapter of the Study by asserting what iust have been
his own basic motivation for writing a book "about Hardy's
people". "One thing about them," he says, "is that none of
the heroes and heroines care very much for money, or immedi-
ate self-preservation, and all of them are st uggling hard
to come into being.". This struggle consists primarily in
"the struggle into love and the struggle with love.
The via media to being . is love, and love alone" (410).
The struggle of love is the sole artistic concern:
Having achieved and accomplished love, then
the man passes into the unknown. He has
become himself, his tale is told. Of any-
thing that is complete there is no more tale
to tell. The tale is about becoming complete,
or about the failure to become complete (410).
The conflict in Hardy's novels, then, stems from the con-
frontation of "unreasonable" and explosive characters (who
"are always bursting suddenly out of bud and taking a wild
flight into flower"), with "the great self-preservation
scheme . which is formulated in the state, in the whole
modelling of the community" (411). Hardy's characters are
unpredictable and unusual because they are all trying to be,
trying to break "out of a tight convention . to live out-
side in the precarious open." But "from such an outburst
the tragedy usually develops," because none of the heroes
or heroines can free themself entirely from the community
which imprisons "his natural, individual desire" to fulfill
his own unique self. This conflict between the scheme of
self-preservation and the desire for self-fulfillment,
says Lawrence, "is the one theme of the Wessex novels" (412).
Lawrence records his quite personalized reaction to the
first five novels (Desperate Remedies, Under the Greenwood
Tree, A Pair of Blue Eyes, Far from the Madding Crowd, and
The Hand of Othelberta) with a short paragraph about each.
About The Return of the Native, however, Lawrence says "this
is the first tragic and important novel" (413). In this
novel, all the characters bent firmly on self-realization
(Eustacia, Clym's mother) are destroyed by social convention.
Clym, who is "not able to undertake his own soul," denies
his own individual drives and identifies himself with soci-
ety. Wildeve "had no positive being. He is an eternal as-
The "real sense of tragedy," however, comes from Egdon
Heath. The "real spirits of the Heath," says Lawrence, are
Eustacia, Clym's mother, and Wildevc: "the natives have
little or nothing in common with the place" (415). The
Heath is the center and progenitor of "instinctive life,"
". .. organic as the body of a beast." Egdon Heath is not
important to Lawrence as a particular place, but as a real
and symbolic force working in the novel, a force which in-
forms the will to self-fulfillment and self-realization and
which is at its very roots opposed to any scheme of societal
conventions. Furthermore, the Heath is eternal, as soci-
eties and individuals are not:
Out of the body of this crude earth are
born Eustacia, Wildcve, Mistress Yeobright,
Clym, and all the others. They are one
year's accidental crop.
Here is the deep, black source from whence
all these little contents of lives are drawn.
And the contents of the small lives are
spilled and washed. There is savage satis-
faction in it: for so much more remains to
come, such a black, powerful fecundity is
working there that what does it matter?
This year's accidental crop of characters is unable to ful-
fill its nature. Eustacia mistakes her image of Paris for
the real thing: '"But Paris real was not Eustacia's imagined
Paris. Where was her imagined Paris, the place where her
powerful nature could come to blossom? Beside some strong-
passioned, unconfined man, her mate" (416). Clym, who could
have been this mate, is unable to burst into his real self,
and must identify himself with the societal system. Clym
is "impotent to be"; he is unable to produce anything "origi-
nal in being or in act, and certainly no original thought"
(417). Lawrence quotes Hardy's description of the embattled
Clym, a description which images Clym's imprisoned self or
being: "As is usual with bright natures, the deity that
lies ignominiously chained within an ephemeral human carcass
shone out of him like a ray." Lawrence sees the mind as the
real prison, guarded by the will, confining the blood,
"which rose dark and potent out of Egdon." Clym has been
educated above his roots in Egdon Heath. le has lost his
connection with the elemental forces of life and, in the
course of the novel, allows himself to be swallowed up by
a system of ideas and conventions which is itself only an
accidental crop of the Heath: "lie had identified himself
with the system, and he could not extricate himself" (418).
Clym is foolish and blind because he does not recognize
Egdon, "the primal impulsive body, the great reality";
lie is a failure because he does not recognize and cannot
come to terms with "the primal impulses that rise in him,"
and that arise from the Heath itself.
Lawrence's central focus, in this novel, then, is Egdon
Heath and the characters who grow out of the Heath. Law-
rence seems to be most intrigued by Hardy's system of nature
and his manipulation of the lives within that system:
This is a constant revelation in Hardy's
novels: that there exists a great background,
vital and vivid, which matters more than the
people who move upon it. Against the back-
ground of dark, passionate Egdon, of the
leafy, sappy passion and sentiment of the
woodlands, of the unfathomed stars, is drawn
the lesser scheme of lives: The Return of
the Native, The Woodlanders, or Tho on a
Tower. Upon the vast, incomprehensible pat-
tern of some primal morality greater than
ever the human mind can grasp, is drawn the
little, pathetic pattern of man's moral life
and struggle, pathetic, almost ridiculous.
The little fold of law and order, the little
walled city within which man has to defend
himself from the waste enormity of nature,
becomes always too small, and the pioneers
venturing out with the code of the walled
city upon them, die in the bonds of that
code, free and yet unfree, preaching the
walled city and looking to the waste.
This is the wonder of Hardy's novels, and
gives them their beauty. The vast, unexplored
morality of life itself, what we call the im-
morality of nature, surrounds us in its eter-
nal incomprehensibility, and in its midst goes
on the little human morality play (419).
John Holloway, in The Victorian Sage, would seem to agree
with Lawrence's remarks on the primal forces of nature in
'Nature' for Hardy is scarcely picturesque,
clearly not static, and above all not a back-
cloth. It is the working and changing system
of the whole world -- Nature in the older
sense of Chaucer or Spenser or Pope (for they
had one sense in common), though with a de-
tailed knowledge of its operations which none
of these displayed or perhaps possessed. Nor
is it a backcloth against which to see human
activity; it is a system which includes that
activity, profoundly modifies it, and ulti-
mately controls it. 8
The emphasis of Lawrence's analysis, however, rests squarely
on the fact that in Hardy's novels the great forces of na-
ture come to a head in their human manifestation, and the
human struggle to "come into being" consists in man's at-
tempt to "learn to be at one, in his mind and will, with the
primal impulses that rise in him" (418). In this sense, the
implications of "physiology" in Lawrence's letter to Garnett
become clearer. In "The Marble and the Statue," Mark
Kinkead-Weekes finds that "through studying . Hardy's
people Lawrence had found a language in which to conceive
the impersonal forces he saw operating within and between
human beings; involving a new clarification of what the
novel he had been trying to write [The Sisters] was really
about; and the discovery of a 'structural skeleton' on
which to re-found it in a new dimension."19
It is the quality of this confrontation of the imper-
sonal forces of unfathomed nature with "a smaller system
of morality . formulated by the human consciousness,"
(419) according to Lawrence, that Hardy shares with the
great writers, such as Shakespeare, Sophocles, or Tolstoi.
The difference in these four writers, he says, is that in
Sophocles and Shakespeare the incomprehensible morality of
nature is transgressed and returns active punishment; but
in Hardy and Tolstoi, the lesser system of human morality
is transgressed and in turn punishes the protagonist. The
"real tragedy" is that the heroes and heroines of Hardy and
Tolstoi "are unfaithful to the greater unwritten morality"
(420); that is, they fail to reconcile the primary impulses
within them to their own particular human situation.* This,
Lawrence believes, is "the weakness of modern tragedy": its
*Cf. Lawrence's remarks on Anna Karenina, in Reflections
on the Death of a Porcupine and Other Essays (1925):
Nobody in the world is anything but delighted
when Vronsky gets Anna Karenina. Then what
about the sin? Why, when you look at it, all
the tragedy comes from Vronsky's and Anna's
fear of society. The monster was social, not
phallic at all. They couldn't live in the
pride of their sincere passion, and spit in
Mother Grundy's eye. And that, that cowardice,
was the real "sin." The novel makes it obvi-
ous, and knocks all old Leo's teeth out.
heroes war with (and lose to) Society, not with God. Trans-
gression against the conventions of society leads inevitably
to destruction, "as though the social code worked our ir-
In such reduction may perhaps be seen the central trend
of tradition in the nineteenth-century novel. From the con-
ventions of Highbury in Jane Austen's Emma, to George Eliot's
Middlemarch and Hardy's Jude, the characters of novels are
contained, defined, and judged by societal forms. Personal
destiny is social destiny, as George Eliot implies in Felix
Holt: "There is no private life which has not been deter-
mined by a wider public life."20 In such novels, as Arnold
Kettle says of Middlemarch, "the background has become the
subject."21 The mechanistic, deterministic pattern of life
which Eliot portrays in Middlemarch stems from the town it-
self, which is represented as a static, limiting, control-
ling order. The ideal of conduct in such an order is the
status quo, and transcendence of that value is tantamount
In a letter to Lady Ottoline Morrell, dated January 27,
1915, Lawrence writes, "The way to express the abstract-
whole is to reduce the object to a unit, a term, and then
out of these units and terms to make a whole statement.""
It is apparent that after (or during) the third chapter of
the Study, Lawrence became dissatisfied with his first
duality of self-preservation v. self-fulfillment, at least
as a vehicle for talking about character. For it is at this 3
point that the initial duality is dropped and, after a chap-
ter attacking the Carlylean concept of work (as he does so
often in the novels, notably The Rainbow, Women in Love,
Aaron's Rod, and Lady Chatterley's Lover), Lawrence proposes
a second duality by which to evaluate Hardy's heroes: "The
distinct individuality" v. "the matrix" -- the individual
against the bourgeois values of social convention (434).
This duality, it is obvious, is a particular extension of
the first, issuing from the particular consideration of
Hardy's characters in terms of self-preservation v. self-
fulfillment in the third chapter. Having established the
predominance of the self-preserving impulse in society, as
well as defining his view of true individuality as self-
fulfillment, Lawrence simply changes the terms of his dual-
ity in order to approach his subjects from another direction:
Looking over the Hardy novels, it is inter-
esting to see which of the heroes one would
call a distinct individuality, more or less
achieved, which an unaccomplished potential
individuality, and which an impure unindivid-
ualized life embedded in the matrix, either
achieving its own lower degree of distinc-
tion, or not achieving it (434).
It becomes readily apparent that this new approach is
also primarily centered around Hardy's heroes and heroines
and, more specifically, with what Lawrence calls Hardy's
"predilection d'artiste for the aristocrat" (435). Desmond
Hawkins has since posited a tradition of "a nervous, highly-
individualized sensibility in retreat from the social
scene," of which "Hardy is the greatest modern example,
and D. H. Lawrence his most brilliant disciple -- a very
John of Patmos."23 Such sensibilities are described by
Lawrence in the third chapter as having "a real, vital,
potential self" (410) and as being "passionate, individual,
willful" (411). The aristocrat is one who has tradition-
ally had the social and economic freedom "where he could
afford to be, to be himself, to create himself, to live as
himself" (436). Lawrence's special use of the term, as
Richard D. Beards puts it, "applies to a quality of behav-
ior rather than a particular social status;"24 and I would
prefer to say a quality of being, rather than behavior,
identifies the aristocrat for Lawrence. It is in what Tess
is, rather than what she does, that makes her an aristocrat:
She is of an old line, and has the aristo-
cratic quality of respect for the other
being. She does not see the other person
as an extension of herself, existing in a
universe of which she is the center and
pivot. She knows that other people are
outside her. Therein she is an aristocrat.
She respects utterly the other's right to
be. She is herself always (483).
This predilection for the aristocratic freedoms and
temperament is not only the obsession of Hardy (and Law-
rence as well); "it is rooted deeply in every imaginative
human being." "The glory of mankind," Lawrence goes on,
"has been to produce lives, to produce vivid, independent,
individual men, not buildings or engineering works or even
art, not even the public good. The glory of mankind is
not in a host of secure, comfortable, law-abiding citizens,
but in a few more fine, clear lives, beings, individual,
distinct, detached, single as may be from the public."
Such heroes, says Lawrence, "the artist of all time has
"Why, then," he asks, "must the aristocrat always be
condemned to death, .in Hardy?" Lawrence posits two reasons:
first, there is "a germ of death" in the more distinct
individuality of the hero; and second, "the artist him-
self [Hardy] has a bourgeois taint," which revenges it-
self on the aristocrat (436). Hardy makes his exceptional
people villains "in steadily weakening degree" in the course
of his novels: "Hardy, like Tolstoi, is forced in the issue
always to stand with the community in condemnation of the
aristocrat" (439). In the earlier novels, the individual
is the villain and the community triumphs over him; but even
in the later novels (Return of the Native, Mayor of Caster-
bridge, Tess and Jude) Hardy "must select his individual
with a definite weakness, a certain coldness of temper, in-
elastic, a certain inevitable and inconquerable adhesion to
the community." Lawrence accuses Hardy of a "moral antago-
nism" toward the character who stands outside the societal
pale: whether the character is good (Jude) or bad (Manston),
he is obliged to be obliterated by the society which produced
him, and for this kind of predilection d'artiste Lawrence
says that Hardy "is something of an Angel Clare" (.189).
The conclusions which Lawrence draws from this "new"
approach to Hardy's people are the same as those drawn in
the third chapter: the individual is defeated by society
and is unable to create and fulfill his own being. Further-
more, the fault is partly his own in that he cannot break
the last ties or obligations to that which destroys him,
the community itself. He dies primarily by his "own lack
of strength to bear the isolation and the exposure" (411).
Again, Lawrence finds such tragedy flawed:
There is a lack of sternness, there is a
hesitating betwixt life and public opinion,
which diminishes the Wessex novels from the
rank of pure tragedy. . It is not that
vital life-forces are set in conflict with
each other. .. It is, in iWessex, that
the individual succumbs to what is in its
shallowest, public opinion, in its deepest,
the human compact by which we live together,
to form a community (440).
Lawrence's quarrel is not with Hardy or Tolstoi per se,
nor even with "modern tragedy," but with the entire tragic
mode. His strictly Pelagian world-view denies the possi-
bility of fate or destiny, which are essential to tragedy.
Man, for Lawrence, is both radically innocent and capable
of working out his own salvation; he is "utterly self-
responsible."26 Thus man is ultimately responsible for
everything that happens to him. All good and evil "lies
in the heart of man and not in the conditions" (406). As
Lawrence says in a short poem, not society but "the fear of
society is the root of all evil."27 Thus "Tess allowed
herself to be condemned, and asked for punishment from
Angel Clare . [because] she sided with the community's
condemnation of her" (440).
As we have seen, the tragic protagonist must above all
be heroic; but if he is truly heroic, Lawrence would argue,
there would be no tragedy. (The hero, it should be remem-
bered, is the radically innocent man capable of creating
his own destiny.) Lawrence explains this most clearly, per-
haps, in his introduction to a book by Giovanni Verga:
I think it is a final criticism against
Madame Bovarv that people such as Emma
Bovary and her husband Charles simply are
too insignificant to carry the full weight
of Gustave Flaubert's sense of tragedy.
Emma and Charles Bovary are a couple of
little people. Gustave Flaubert is not a
little person. But, because he is a real-
ist and does not believe in "heroes,"
Flaubert insists on pouring his own deep
and bitter tragic consciousness into the
little skins of the country doctor and
his uneasy wife. The result is a . .
misfit. And to get over the misfit, you
have to let in all sorts of seams of pity.
Seams of pity, which won't be hidden.
The realistic-democratic age has dodged the
dilemma of having no heroes by having every
man his own hero. This is reached by what
we call subjective intensity, and in this
subjectively-intense every-man-his-own hero
business the Russians have carried us to
the greatest lengths. The merest scrub of
a pick-pocket is so phenomenally aware of
his own soul, that we are made to bow down
before the imaginary coruscations that go
on inside him. .
Of course your soul will coruscate, if
you think it does. That's why the Russians
are so popular. No matter how much of a
shabby animal you may be, you can learn
from Dostoievsky and Chekhov, etc., how
to have the most tender, unique, corus-
cating soul on earth. And so you may be
most vastly important to yourself. Which
is the private aim of all men. The hero
had it openly. The commonplace person
has it inside himself (226,228-229).
Lawrence's disdain of the "imaginary coruscations" of the
soul leads him to scorn the classical accompanists of the
tragic hero and the tragic mode: fear and pity. The
evocation of such emotions, he feels, leads inexorably to
an unseemly self-con-scious self-pity, as he points out in
his poem "Tragedy":
Tragedy seems to be a loud noise
Louder than is seemly.
Tragedy looks to me like man
In love with his own defeat.
Which is only a sloppy way of being
in love with yourself.
I can't very much care about the
woes and tragedies
Of Lear and Macbeth and Hamlet and Timon.
They cared so excessively themselves.28
As David Gordon puts it, "he felt that tragedy tended at
once to magnify spuriously by creating pity for the wronged
good and to depress by assuming the inevitability of defeat.
It tended, that is, toward sentimentality, and it assumed
that earthly life could not be complete and nontragic."29
Three succeeding chapters (the sixth, seventh and
eighth) prepare for the third and final segment of Lawrence's
analysis of Hardy. Again, Lawrence changes the terms of
his argument, creating a new conceptual model with which
to examine "Hardy's people." David Gordon explains this
Now Lawrence shifts his approach. The
terms are no longer social morality versus
natural morality but the polar forces of
natural morality itself: Love versus Law,
Male versus Female, Spirit versus Flesh,
Christ versus Jehovah. With this new scheme
the error of Hardy's art -- and it is only
Hardy's best art the critic is now con-
cerned with -- can be formulated in a new
In the three intermediate chapters, which are an interpre-
tation of the whole of Western art and culture, Lawrence
constructs a dialectic through which he can at once examine
Hardy's best novels and formulate new standards for.his own.
The earlier dualities by which Lawrence examined the self
in relation to its community are replaced by a dialectic
which focuses on the self in relation to itself and to other
individuals. This movement of the Study is the key to Law-
rence's changing critical method, though it has been long
unrecognized. In The Forked Flame, for instance, H. M.
Daleski argues for a continuing dualism in which there is
neither resolution nor transcendence of the dual polari-
ties.31 Mark Kinkead-Weekes, on the other hand, character-
izes Lawrence's structural skeleton in the Study as "not
dualistic but implicitly dialectic, since it always implies
a state beyond every successive clash of thesis and anti-
thesis."32 The problem here, of course, is that Daleski's
argument is true for the first two Laurentian dualities
(self-fulfillment v. self-preservation, and "the distinct
individuality, or hero, v. the bourgeois values of social
convention"), but it does not take into account the essen-
tial difference in the third set of opposed terms (Law v.
Love, male principle v. female principle, flesh v. mind,
etc.), which is aimed at producing a concept of the unity
of being. This third set of opposed values, then, is a dia-
lectic -- in which synthesis is possible. In the first and
second sets of polarities, of course, no synthesis was pos-
sible. Daleski's term "duality" accounts for these first
two sets, but fails to account for dialectical nature of the
third set. Kinkead-Weekes,on the other hand, gives us a
satisfactory account of the dialectical framework of the
final chapters of the Study, but he does not recognize the
purely dualistic nature of the first five chapters. Kinkead-
Weekes' description, for example, cannot account for the ir-
resoluble conflict (hence dualistic) which Lawrence sees at
the center of the modern tragic form. With this distinction
between duality and dialectic in mind, both the Study and
the Laurentian metaphysic become more easily accessible.
The sixth, seventh and eighth chapters of the Study
attempt to define the terms of this new dialectic, Law and
Love (or Female and Male). Though it is neither necessary
nor convenient to my argument to examine these chapters in
detail, II. M. Daleski has constructed a table "abstracting
the qualities" of this polarity. He includes reference to
the page numbers in the Phoenix where discussion of the
particular qualities may be found:33
Refusal of Sensation
Multiplicity and Diversity
God the Son
Service of Some Idea
Condition of Knowledge
phoenix, p. 446.
di-b-T. p. 455.
ITM7., pp. 483, 435.
.JTSa., p. 498.
mTbTC., p. 510.
h '1F -.
Occupied in Self-Feeling
Submission to Sensation
God the Fathere
Full Life in the Body
Gratification in the Senses
Enjoyment through the Sensesi
Condition of Being
Law. (Female) is seen as the center of the Hebraic tradition;
Love (Male) identifies the Christian tradition:
In the Father we are one flesh, in Christ we
are crucified, and rise again, and are One
with Him in Spirit. It is the difference
between Law and Love. Each man shall live
according to the Law, which changeth not,
says the old religion. Each man shall live
according to Love, which shall save us from
death and from the Law, says the new reli-
For each man there is the bride, for each
woman the bridegroom, for all, the Mystic
In the rest of the Study, then, Lawrence is attempting to
schematize the art of the Western world in terms of his
theory of Occidental history and religion. He examines the
painting of Durer, Botticelli, Correggio, Raphael, Michel-
angelo, Rembrandt and Turner, as well as the "metaphysic" of
Aeschylus, Euripides, Shelley, Swinburne, Spinoza and Tol-
stoi. The "Mystic Marriage" of Love and Law, of the Male
and Female principles, becomes the compelling goal of art
(as evidenced in the work of Aeschylus and Turner), but the
essential content of art is conflict. Aeschylus' art is
more satisfying than that of Euripides because the former
portrays an equal, balanced conflict, where the latter has
Love "unequally matched" with Law:
If Aeschylus has a metaphysic to his art,
this metaphysic is that Love and Law are
Two, eternally in conflict, and eternally
being reconciled (477).
This dialectic is the basis of Lawrence's theory of form:
Artistic form is a revelation of the two
principles of Love and the Law in a state
of conflict and yet reconciled: pure mo-
tion struggling against and yet reconciled
with the Spirit: active force meeting and
overcoming and yet not overcoming inertia.
It is the conjunction of the two which
makes form. And since the two must always
meet under fresh conditions, form must
always be different. Each work of art
has its own form, which has no relation
to any other form (477).
The form of Hardy's art errs on the side of Euripides
(and Tolstoi): "'There is no reconciliation between Love
and the Law,' says Hardy. 'The spirit of Love must always
succumb before the blind, stupid; but overwhelming power of
the Law'" (480). Lawrence sees in Hardy an unsympathetic
portrayal of the Female principles (flesh, primeval Law)
as either too strong (Jude accepting Arabella) or too weak
(Angel Clare rejecting Tess), but always disruptive. The
conflict itself, however, is inevitably unequal; Law always
conquers Love. Lawrence attributes this unequal conflict
in the novels to "the weak yet obstinate theory of being"
in the author, but Lawrence does not ultimately see either
the novels nor Hardy as failures. Hardy's metaphysic, to
be sure, is "botched," but as an artist, "his sensuous
understanding is . deeper than that, perhaps, of any
other English novelist" (480). This is a point Lawrence
often makes about Hardy: though the book is wrong in its
intellectual conception, it is ultimately right as art.
Of Tess, for example, he says,
And so Hardy really states his case, which
is not his consciously stated metaphysic,
by any means, but a statement how man has
gone wrong and brought death on himself:
how man has violated the Law, how he has
supererogated himself, gone so far in his
male conceit as to supersede the Creator,
and win death as a reward. Indeed, the
works of supererogation of our male assidu-
ity helps us to a better salvation (488).
The art of even the greatest artists, however, "leaves the
soul unsatisfied" if the metaphysic is infirm. "Humanity
does not continue for long to accept the conclusions" of
either the artist of the Law (Aeschylus, Dante, Plato,
Raphael) or the artist of Love (Shakespeare, Shelley, Words-
worth, Goethe, Hardy). Indeed, "now the aim of man remains
to recognize and seek out the Holy Spirit, the Reconciler,
the Originator, lie who drives the twin principles of Law and
of Love across the ages" (514). Neither Hardy nor anyone
else has made the art which must be the art of the future:
"there shall be the art which knows the struggle between the
two conflicting laws, and knows the final reconciliation,
where both are equal, two-in-one, complete. This is the
supreme art, which yet remains to be done" (515-516).
This consummation is a goal at once artistic, religious,
and psychological. The Eucharist is "the ritual represent-
ing the Consummation" (467); and the "deepest human desire
[is] for consummation" (468). The goal of this desire is
the "Mystic Marriage" of Law and Love. As Kinkead-Weekes
points out, "what we watch is Lawrence in the act of trying
to formulate a 'theoretical' basis for his whole intuitive
view of marriage . a way of looking at every personality
and all relationships as the outcome of conflict between two
radically opposed forces, impersonal, and universal."34
Both forces, it should be noted, are seen as positive ways
of being, but they must be brought together to express the
whole "Truth": "What we call the Truth is, in actual ex-
perience, that momentary state when in living the union be-
tween the male and the female is consummated. This consum-
mation may be also physical, between the male body and the
female body. But it may be only spiritual, between the male
and female spirit" (460). The force of the female (or Law)
is toward total identification with the "primal impulses"
of nature, toward oneness with all flesh and all things.
The force of the male (Love) "is to move into ever more
The conflict which ensues from these opposites is eter-
nal,* but "the two must be for ever reconciled" (475). And,
as II. M. Daleski argues, "the contending forces must retain
their separate identities" even in reconciliation. "The
new whole," he goes on, "which is created by establishing
a relation between the opposites is not a fusing of the two
into one but a complementing of the one by the other."36 The
consummation paradoxically reveals in the clearest light the
very identities which it joins:
*Cf. Lawrence's introduction to "Reptiles" in Birds,
Beasts and Flowers:
"Homer was wrong in saying, 'Would that
strife might pass away from among Gods
and men!' He did not see that lie was
praying for the destruction of the uni-
verse; for, if his prayer were heard,
all things would pass away" -- for in
the tension of opposites all things have
their being (Collected Poems, p. 348).
In the act of love, that which is mixed in me
becomes pure, that which is female in me is
given to the female, that which is male in her
draws into me, I am complete, I am pure male,
she is pure female; we rejoice in contact per-
fect and naked and clear, singled out onto
ourselves, and given the surpassing freedom.
No longer we see through a glass, darkly. For
she is she, and I am I, and, clasped together
with her, I know how perfectly she is not me,
how perfectly I am not her, how utterly we are
two, the light and the darkness, and how in-
finitely and eternally not-to-be-comprehended
by either of us is the surpassing One we make.
Yet of this One, this incomprehensible, we
have an inkling that satisfies us (468).37
It is clear that the form of the Study, as well as the
theoretical form of art posited in the Study, is that of
marriage. In this marriage there are two polar forces of
-ortial strength which are always in conflict and forever
being reconciled. In reconciliation there is "surpassing
freedom," but there is never stasis; there is always growth
and conflict and reconciliation: "active force meeting and
overcoming and yet not overcoming inertia" (477). Final
reconciliation is not yet possible although, in time, it
may be attained: "No man can as yet find perfect consumma-
tion of marriage between himself and the Bride, be the bride
either Woman or an Idea, but he can approximate to it, and
every generation can get a little nearer" (515).
The forces of art and the forces of character are im-
personal ones, ever in a process of. conflict and reconcilia-
tion, constantly showing up in different forms (changing
their names and their appearances), but essentially unchang-
ing. The task of the artist is to portray the interaction
of these forces, to give them utterance: "When the two are
acting together, then Life is produced, then Life, or Utter-
ance, Something is created. And nothing is or can be
created save by combined effort of the two principles, Law
and Love" (513).
This, then, was the Laurentian metaphysic in 1914.
Let us return to our first quotation from the Study:
Because a novel is a microcosm, and because
man in viewing the universe must view it in
the light of a theory, therefore every novel
must have the background or the structural
skeleton of some theory of being, some meta-
This theory of being, which is unfolded in the Study, is an
elaboration on the "allotropic states of the ego" about which
Lawrence wrote to Garnett. Three months after completing
the Study, Lawrence had completely revised The Sisters and
had divided it into at least two volumes. There can be
little doubt of the importance of the Study for the final
version of The Rainbo- 39 or of its importance for Law-
rence's radically new concept of character. With the formu-
lation and elaboration of this concept, Lawrence was creating
*Cf. Part II of Lawrence's poem "Wedlock" (Collected
Poems, p. 247):
And think, there will something come forth from us,
We two, folded so small together,
There will something come forth from us.
Children, acts, utterance,
Perhaps only happiness.
a new kind of reality for his characters. It is the kind
of reality Freud and Jung were also creating, although Law-
rence knew next to nothing about them. With this radical
view of self Lawrence was to shape the faltering project of
The Sisters into The Rainbow and Women in Love within three
International Book Review; the essay also appears in
Phoenix: The Posthumous Papers of D. H. Lawrence, ed.
Edward D. McDonald (New York: Viking Press, 1936), pp. 517-
20 (hereafter cited as Phoenix).
Phoenix, p. 479. Most critics underline the Study of
Thomas Hardy for the reader's convenience.
The Collected Letters of D. H. Lawrence, ed. Harry T.
Moore ~London: Heinemann, 1962), I, 287. Also The Letters
of D. H. Lawrence, ed. Aldous Huxley (London: Heinemann,
1932), p. 205.
Letters, ed. Moore, I, 290; also, Letters, ed. Huxley,
S. Foster Damon, Amy Lowell. A Chronicle (Boston:
n.p., 1935), p. 279.
Phoenix, p. 485.
George H. Ford, Double Measure: A Study of the Novels
and Stories of D. H. Lawrence (New York: Holt, Rinehart and
Winston, 1965), pp. 21, 32.
Letters, ed. Moore, I, 281-82; also Letters, ed.
Huxley, pp. 198-99.
Ford, p. 140.
1Harry T. Moore, The Intelligent Heart (New York:
Farrar, Straus and Young, 1954), p. 163.
H. M. Daleski, The Forked Flame (Evanston: Northwest-
ern University Press, 9-5), p. 13.
12Phoenix, p. 398. Numbers parenthetically enclosed in
text refer to previously cited edition of Phoenix.
1Paul Tillich, The Courage to Be (New Haven: Yale Uni-
versity Press, 1952), p. T.
14Tbid., p. 3. As we shall later see, Lawrence's dis-
tinction between self-fulfillment and self-preservation is
15Ibid., p. 13.
16Ibid., p. 19.
17Sartre, on the other hand, would seem to accept the
Laurentian duality: see Part One, Chapter 2 of Being and
Nothingness (New York: Washington Square Press, 1966).
18John Holloway, The Victorian Sage (London: MacMillan,
1953), pp. 251-52.
19Mark Kinkead-Weekes, "The Marble and the Statue,"
Imagined Worlds, ed. Maynard Mack and lan Gregor (London:
Mcthuen andT o., 1968), p. 380.
20George Eliot, Felix IIolt the Radical (London: Panther
Books Ltd., 1965), p. 56.
21Arnold Kettle, An Introduction to the English Novel,
rev. ed. (New York: Harper and Row, 1968), p. 172.
Letters, ed. Huxley, p. 216.
23Desmond Hawkins, Thomas Hardy (London: Arthur Barker
Ltd., 1950), pp. 30-31.
24Richard D. Beards, "D. H. Lawrence and the Study of
Thomas Hardy," The D. H. Lawrence Review, 2 (Fall 1969),
2Cf. Eric Bentley, A Century of Hero Worship (New York:
Lippincott, 1944), pp. 231-53, in which Lawrence's concept
of the hero and his use of the hero in his own novels is
26David J. Gordon, D. H. Lawrence as a Literary Critic
(New Haven: Yale University Press, 1966), p. 76.
27The Complete Poems of D. H. Lawrence, ed. with intro.
by Vivl-an de Sola Pinto and Warren Roberts, 2 vols. (New
York: Viking Press, 1964), p. 516.
28Ibid., p. 508.
9Gordon, p. 79.
30Ibid., p. 86.
31Daleski, p. 21.
32Kinkead-Weekes, pp. 382-83.
33Daleski, p. 30.
34Kinkead-Weekes, p. 383.
35Ibid., p. 382.
36Daleski, p. 21.
37Cf. Lawrence's long poem, "Manifesto," pt. VII:
I want her to touch me at last, ah on
the root and quick of my darkness
and perish on me as I have perished on her.
Then, we shall be two and distinct, we shall
have each our separate being.
And that will be pure existence, real liberty.
Till then, we are confused, a mixture,
unresolved, unextricated one from the other.
When she is slain against me, and lies in a
heap like one outside the house,
When she passes away as I have passed away,
being pressed up against the other,
then I shall be glad, I shall not be confused
I shall be cleared, distinct, single as if
burnished in silver,
having no adherence, no adhesion anywhere,
one clear, burnished, isolated being, unique,
and she is also pure isolated, complete,
two oF us, unutterably distinguished, and in
Then we shall be free, freer than angels,
33SSee Letters, ed. Huxley, p. 212; and Letters, ed.
Moore, I, 296, 306.
39The Intelligent Heart, p. 189; also cf. Daleski,
40See The Intelligent Heart, p. 163, for Moore's dis-
cussion of this crucial change of direction in Lawrence's
life and art.
HARDY INTO LAWRENCE: CHANGING THE MOLD
The descent beckons
as the ascent beckoned
Memory is a kind
a sort of renewal
an initiation, since the spaces it opens are new
inhabited by hordes
W. C. Williams, Patterson
My known self will never be more than a
little clearing in the forest.
Gods, strange gods, come forth from the forest
into the clearing of my known self,
and then go back.
I must have the courage to let them
come and go.
D. H. Lawrence, Studies in
Classic American Literature
Lawrence's views of character and being had not always
been as clear as they became in the Study. It has long
been obvious to his critics that Lawrence leans heavily, in
the earlier novels (i.e., The White Peacock , The
Trespasser , and Sons and Lovers ),on his pre-
decessors in the novel, and in particular, on Thomas Hardy.
Precise critical discussion of this "literary ancestry" is
usually limited, however, to The White Peacock, or to
cursory remarks about style, tone, or landscape. Raney
Stanford's article, entitled "Thomas Hardy and Lawrence's
The White Peacock," for example, finds in the heroine of
that novel, Lettie Beardsall, a close resemblance to Sue
Bridehead of Hardy's Jude the Obscure, and other critics
have affirmed this connection.
It seems profitable, however, to press this connection
further, and to ask why Lawrence chose to write "a little
book about Hardy's people" so late in his career (June-
November, 1914) if Hardy's influence is indeed limited to
that first novel. And why, furthermore, was Lawrence con-
cerned with an analysis of Hardy after Sons and Lovers, his
third and last novel of the early, Hardyesque period, was
finished, and during the last six revisions of the Sisters?
Richard D. Beards makes a halting attempt to discover
Hardian themes in the later novels of Lawrence in his essay,
"D. H. Lawrence and The Study of Thomas Hardy, His Victorian
Predecessor" [sic],3 but I am interested primarily in Law-
rence's characters. I suggest that Lawrence wrote his
study of Hardy with a very current interest: he found in
the Hardy novels, and particularly in the characters of
those novels, an artist grappling with the same kinds of
problems he had faced and was facing in his own novels.
The central problem of The Return of the Native, Tess and
Jude, is that of Sons and Lovers, The Rainbow, and Women in
Love: the effort of a character, or of characters, to find
and to establish a "best self," in Matthew Arnold's terms,
in the midst of a world where the structure of the community
and the face of nature itself is changing. Tess's journey
from Marlott to Stonehenge and Jude's trek from Marygreen
to Christminster are Paul Morel's journey from the ash-pits
to the "humming, glowing town," and the movement of the
Brangwen family from the Marsh to the "outer world" of the
university, and the hope of "a new world."
Lawrence's analysis of characters and human relation-
ships in the Study involves, I suspect, two primary concerns.
He was not only trying to articulate a "structural skeleton"
for his future novels, including the work in progress; he
was also attempting to clarify the fictional lives of his
characters in the book he had just finished. Indeed, Law-
rence's frequent attacks on Hardy's art often read like a
vindication of his own, and with good reason: not only is
the human condition similar in the works of the two novel-
ists, the characters themselves are often much alike. Meta-
physically and aesthetically speaking, then, we may view
Sons and Lovers partially as Lawrence's attempt to rewrite
Jude the Obscure, just as Chapter IX of the Study is an ex-
pository attempt to explain the deficiencies and suggest
the alternative possibilities of Tess and Jude. A compari-
son of Sons and Lovers with Jude, along with Lawrence's
critical reactions to Hardy's novel, should illuminate our
understanding of the later novel. It will reveal what
conflicts Lawrence considers central to Hardy's novel and
consequently, to his own. The contrasts between the two
novels may reveal, conversely, what Lawrence rejects in the
earlier novel from either an aesthetic or (more probably)
a metaphysical point of view. I shall try to point out
some of the significant similarities and differences in
these two novels, and to suggest the implications each has
for Lawrence's characters.
Just as Ward Hellstrom's article, "Hardy's Scholar-
Gipsy,4 argues that "Hardy may have originally intended
to dramatize in [Jude] certain Arnoldian precepts, adhering
to some and rejecting others," Lawrence seems in Sons and
Lovers and the Study to have accepted some of Hardy's pre-
sentation of the human condition in Jude, though by no means
all. Certainly both novels are concerned with the attempt
to attain the outer world or the "best self" by a character
positioned between the manual and intellectual worlds.
Jude Fawley is a stonemason who would be a scholar, and his
"ruling passion" is his desire to become a student at Christ-
minster, his personal symbol of intellectual beauty and
truth. Jude roams the Wessex countryside, cutting stone
during the day and studying the classics at night, waiting
for his chance to enter Christminster as a scholar; but the
opportunity never comes. Along the way, Jude is tricked
into marriage by the fleshly, sensuous country girl,
Arabella, who subsequently leaves him and reappears through-
out the novel as the emblem of animal lust and bodily plea-
sure. Jude also falls in love with Sue, his intellectual,
neurotic, virginal cousin whom he temporarily substitutes
for Christminster as his ideal of intellectual beauty. Sue
gradually renounces her former intellectual aloofness for
a demeaning Christian piety and subjection; Jude then re-
jects her as "not worthy of a man's love," and dies in sui-
cidal despair. Christminster remains Jude's idealized "city
of light," nonetheless, to the end.
Jude's attempt to enter Christminster, which the nar-
rator ambigiously calls "his form of the modern vice of un-
rest,"5 is an attempt to establish a new or best self, a
self outside of social expectation or artifice, based on
something final, stable, and ideal: "It had been the yearn-
ing of his heart to find something to anchor on, to cling
to -- for some place which he could call admirable. Should
he find that place in this city . .?" (J 68). To Jude's
young mind the city is "a wonderful place for scholarship
and religion" (J 69), and he becomes primarily interested
in his own 'mental progress' (J 79). Lawrence says that
Jude concentrates on becoming "a non-developing quality,
an academic mechanism," and wants life "merely in the secon-
dary, outside form, in the consciousness. . He wanted
to exist only in his mentality. He was as if bored in the
body. . This seems to be the result of coming of an
old family that had long been conscious, long self-conscious,
specialized, separate, exhausted."6 For Lawrence, then, Jude
embodies the male principle of conscious mentality discussed
in the preceding chapter of this study. This mental pre-
occupation, says Lawrence, "drove him to Sue," who, like
Jude, "wanted to live partially, in the consciousness, in
the mind only. She wanted no experience in the senses, she
wished only to know" (P 496). Lawrence sees Sue as the
pure embodiment of one of the principles which operate in
Jude, the principle of mind. Arabella is the embodiment of
the other principle, of the flesh, and "Jude contains them
both" (P 488). Thus Lawrence sees Sue and Christminster as
manifestations of the same principle, and Jude's attraction
to each stemming from his love of mind, or the conscious
life. Jude's rejection of Arabella is, of course, a rejec-
tion of the physical, fleshly world, and it is this one-
sided development that kills Jude:
And this tragedy is the result of over-
development of one principle of human life
at the expense of the other; an over-balancing;
a laying of all the stress on the Male, the
Love, the Spirit, the Mind, the Consciousness;
a denying, a blaspheming against the Female,
the Law, the Soul, the Senses, the Feelings.
But she [Sue] is developed to the very extreme,
she scarcely lives in the body at all. Being
of the feminine gender, she is yet no woman at
all, nor male; she is almost neuter. He [Jude]
is nearer the balance, nearer the centre,
nearer the wholeness. But the whole human
effort, towards pure life in the spirit,
towards becoming pure Sue, drags him along;
he identifies himself with this effort, de-
stroys himself and her in his adherence to
this identification (P 509-510).
Paul Morel, the protagonist of Sons and Lovers, is
also stationed between the manual, rural world and the in-
tellectual world. His father, Walter, is a pit miner in
the coal fields of Nottinghamshire, and his mother, Ger-
trude, is the daughter of an upper-middle class family
which "ignored all sensuous pleasure." Walter is described
as "soft, non-intellectual, warm, . gambolling"; Ger-
trude is his opposite: "She loved ideas, and was consider-
ed very intellectual." Gertrude offers to her sons, as
Raymond Williams puts it, "a projected idea of what a good
life would be, what getting on would be -- as Clym's mother
had put it in The Return of the Native." Paul chooses his
mother as an ideal as Jude chose Christminster -- as an
anchor for his soul: "Hers was the strongest tie in his
life. . There was one place in the world that stood
solid and did not melt into unreality: the place where his
mother was. . It was as if the pivot and pole of his
life, from which he could not escape, was his mother" (SL
Paul rejects his swearing, hard-drinking, brawling
father for the intellectual, refined way of life his mother
represents, but it is clear that Mrs. Morel is not simply
an intellectual, or cultural, ideal. Paul sees in Gertrude
both a mental and physical ideality. It is for this reason
that the 'bodiless' Miriam, who is so like Mrs. Morel in
many ways, is finally unable to replace Gertrude as Paul's
lover. fie tells Miriam in the chapter entitled "Passion,"
"That's what one must have, I think .
the real, real flame of feeling through
another person -- once, only once, if it
only last three months. See, my mother
looks as if she'd had everything that was
necessary for her i-ving and developing.
There's not a tiny bit of feeling of
sterility about her" (SL 317).
Later Paul says this 'baptism of fire in passion' "almost
seems to fertilise your soul and make it that you can go
on and mature." The novel thus saves Mrs. Morel from being
the "non-developing quality, an academic mechanism" that
Lawrence sees Jude becoming in his idealization and worship
Though the conflict in Jude between passion and mind
is only a secondary consideration in that novel, the same
conflict in Sons and Lovers becomes the primary theme as
Paul matures. In Paul's mind at least, Mrs. Morel is an
ideal who incorporates both physical and mental qualities
of the best self. In Miriam, Paul finds the spiritual quali
ties of his mother; and in Clara he finds physical satis-
faction, but neither woman incorporates both principles,
as Paul's ideal must. Like Arabella and Sue, Clara and
Miriam "represent the same pair of [male and female] princi-
ples"; and Paul, like Jude, "contains them both" (P 488).
In both novels there is a structural positioning of charac-
ters, with the hero as focal point, which dramatizes the
conflicts of the story. Lawrence makes this clear in Sons
and Lovers in the "Defeat of Miriam" chapter, where Paul
finds himself stationed between Miriam's spiritual love on
the one hand, and Clara's acute physicality on the other:
"There was a triangle of antagonism between Paul and Clara
and Miriam" (SL 249). The relationships between the central
forces of the two novels might be represented diagram-
The Ideal: Christminster The Ideal: Mrs. Morel
Arabella Sue Clara Miriam
(rural, (urban, (passion) (spirit)
One is almost forced to agree with Mark Schorer's
judgment that Lawrence is too close to Sons and Lovers,
autobiographically speaking, and that the narrator in the
novel is not always object~iwe-r trustworthy. For instance,
Paul thinks "he lo ed Miriam his soul. [But] He grew warm
at the thought of Clara-: ." (SL 279). Certainly it is
difficult, when one encounters such passages, for the
reader to know whether it is really Miriam who is the "nun,"
as Paul calls her, or Paul himself who makes her that way;
whether Clara has only a physical nature -- or whether the
truth is that Paul sees only that side of her.9 Neverthe-
less, even if the book is solely concerned with how things
appear to Paul, it succeeds because appearance is important;
appearance is a reality. Whether Paul and the narrator
(they do often seem to be the same person, especially in
the'earlier chapters of Part II) are ultimately right about
the one-sided natures of Clara and Miriam is finally of lit-
tle importance, since the field of the novel is within Paul
himself. He finally, rejects both women because he sees
them as embodying only one aspect of his ideal, an ideal
which has, like himself, a dual nature. Unlike Jude, Paul
does not commit suicide at the loss of his ideal, though the
death of his mother leaves him whimpering in the streets.
In Lawrence's rather weak ending, Paul marches off affirma-
tively, resolutely, toward a Laurentian Christminster:
But no, he would not give in. Turning
sharply, he walked toward the city's gold
phosphorescence. His fists were shut, his
mouth set fast. He would not take that
direction, to follow her. He walked
towards the faintly humming, glowing town,
In Another Ego: The Changing View of Self and Society
in the Work of D. H. Lawrence, Baruch Hochmann says, "we
*Cf. young Jude's vision of Christminster from the
Brown House: "No individual light was visible, only a
halo or glow-fog over-arching the place against the black
heavens behind it, making the light and the city seem dis-
tant but a mile or so. . In the glow he seemed to see
Phillotson promenading at ease, like one of the forms in
Nebuchadnezzar's furnace" (1, iii).
have in Sons and Lovers the first clear depiction of the
process of self-realization as conceived and enunciated in
the Hardy "study": the process of coming-into-being on the
high road of love and of its unfolding in relation to the
greater life of nature."0 This is, I think, an accurate
description of Paul's road to self-realization, and it is
an important variance from Jude's quest for his best self.
As Ward Hellstrom points out, Jude's real impulse is intel-
lectual and cultural. Even his interest in Sue Bridehead
stems from his "wish for intellectual sympathy":
Though he is denied a university degree and
ordination and finally Sue, [Jude] remains
free to cultivate his best self, what Arnold
calls in "The Buried Life" his "genuine self."
He remains constant to his search after knowl-
edge of his buried life, constant to his
attempt to expand his powers and add to his
growth in wisdom.ll
For Paul Morel and for Lawrence, on the other hand, the way
to wholeness of being is through love, rather than culture.
In his analysis of Jude in the Hardy study, Lawrence implies
that Jude would have found his best self without Christ-
minster, had he only been able to establish a satisfactory
sexual relationship with Arabella or Sue. In sexual consum-
mation, rather than culture or learning, Lawrence says wisdom
is to be found, and the self discovered. At the risk of
repetition, let me again quote the central passage from the
Hardy Study in this regard:
In Love, in the act of love, that which is
mixed in me becomes pure, that which is female
in me is given to the female, that which is
male in her draws into me, I am complete, I am
pure male, she is pure female; we rejoice in
contact perfect and naked and clear, singled
out unto ourselves, and given the surpassing
freedom. No longer we see through a glass,
darkly. For she is she, and I am I, and,
clasped together with her, I know how perfectly
she is not me, how perfectly I am not her, how
utterly we are two, the light and the darkness,
and how infinitely and eternally not-to-be-
comprehended by either of us is the surpassing
One we make. Yet of this One, this incompre-
hensible, we have an inkling that satisfied
us (P 468).
Jude acts according to the dictates of his best self
when he obeys his own conscience and personal moral code,
when he does not'pervert his actions by simple compliance
with "social formulas" (J 367).12 The primary act of bad
faith in Jude the Obscure is to act in mechanical accordance
with externally ordained social "roles," to be Phillotson
the outraged husband, or Sue the humble, obedient, and self-
sacrificing wife. As Sue herself says, "the social moulds
civilization fits us into have no more relation to our
actual shapes than the conventional shapes of the constella-
tions have to the real star-patterns" (J 247). Throughout
the book there is a constant and agonizing disparity be-
tween social forms and individual needs, between the unique-
ness of the individual and the constraints of social con-
vention. There is 'logic' to those conventions, as there
is indeed logic in Tetuphenay's "terribly sensible" advice
to Jude to "stick to your trade," but there is no humanity,
no allowance for human aspiration and grandeur. Sue's use
of John Stuart Mill may be seen to illustrate the central
moral point of the novel: "She, or he, 'who lets the world,
or his own portion of it, choose his plan of life for him,
has no need of any other faculty than the ape-like one of
imitation'" (J 265). Again quoting Mill, Sue says "'Human
development in its richest diversity' is to my mind far
above respectability," and I think the novel affirms this
idea. Ultimately, only Jude remains above convention; as
Phillotson seeks to regain some of his former social stand-
ing, Sue finds solace in role-playing, and Arabella dons
once more her mask of dimples. Sue, it seems, is right when
she says "domestic laws should be made according to tempera-
ments, which should be classified. If people are at all
peculiar in character they have to suffer from the very
rules that produce comfort in others!" (J 264). In his
speech to the crowd at his return to Christminster, Jude
voices his abhorrence of social roles and conventions, and
describes his personal moral imperative of
'following inclinations which do me and nobody
else any harm, and actually give pleasure to
those I love best. . I perceive there is
something wrong somewhere in our social formu-
las. . "For who knoweth what is good for
man in this life? -- and who can tell a man
what shall be after him under the sun?"' (J 367).
Jude's 'high road' to the self is his "ruling passion"
(as both Arabella and Sue call it): the attainment of cul-
ture. This is what the journey from Marygreen to
Christminster is all about. Sue says of Phillotson, "he
had the same hankering for the University that you [Jude]
had" (J 368); and Phillotson's capitulation to the forces
of convention and social 'moulds' counterpoints and empha-
sizes Jude's affirmation of his self.
Whatever the role of sex is in Jude, it is not the
means toward achieving or knowing the radically individual
self. This is, I think, the central difference between the
two novels: both are concerned with finding and holding to
the best self, but the means by which one gains that self
are different. Lawrence, like Hardy, is quite concerned
with 'human development in its richest diversity.' In the
Hardy Study, he says
It seems as though one of the conditions
of life is, that life shall continually and
progressively differentiate itself, almost
as though this differentiation were a Purpose.
Life starts crude and unspecified, a great
Mass. And it proceeds to evolve out of that
mass ever more distinct and definite particular
forms, as if it were working always to the pro-
duction of the infinite number of perfect in-
dividuals, the individual so thorough that he
should have nothing in common with any other
individual. . .
The more I am singled out into utter in-
dividuality, the more this intrinsic me re-
joices (P 431-432).
As I pointed out in part II of this chapter, the road to
the self, for Lawrence, is "love, the act of love." Thus
Miriam and Clara polarize Paul Morel's spiritual and sexual
needs in love, where Sue and Arabella dramatize Jude's
levels of intellection. The structural balancing of the
characters is quite similar, but the epistemological empha-
sis is altered. Lawrence reads Hardy (as, indeed, he reads
everything) in sexual terms. Hardy considered Jude's sexual
problems, I suspect, only one manifestation of a poor, rural,
idealistic young man attempting to attain to the condition
of sweetness and light.
With the idea in mind of what "coming into being," or
attaining the best self, means for Hardy and what it means
for Lawrence, let us examine three pairs of characters from
the two novels for what such a comparison can reveal to us
about the people of Sons and Lovers.
The original role of Sue Bridehead and Miriam Levers
is, as I have said, that of counterpoints to Arabella Donn
and Clara Dawes. Together Miriam and Clara make, as Law-
rence says Sue and Arabella make "one complete marriage:
that is, the two women added together made One Bride" (P 500).
Each of the women represents one side of the hero, and the
hero thinks of his two women as contrasting opposites.13
As I have pointed out, Lawrence's interest in the polarity
of Sue and Arabella is sexual rather than cultural, and he
accordingly arranges his own contrasting females in sexual
Sue and Miriam describe the puritanical side of this
sexual contrast; they are examples of what one critic has
called "sublimated sexuality,"14 and what psychologists
would no doubt label 'frigid' women. Jude thinks or speaks
of Sue at one time or another in the novel as "almost a
divinity," "ethereal," "uncarnate," "aerial," "spirit, . .
disembodied creature . hardly flesh"; as a phantasmall,
bodiless creature," "a sort of fay, or sprite," and calls
her "least sensual." Sue wants Jude to kiss her "as a
lover, incorporeally"; and Jude tells her that she has
"little animal passion." Similarly, Miriam is described
as "romantic in her soul," and "mystical," as a girl who
"by her religious intensity" was cut off from the ordinary
world, "which made the world for her either a nunnery gar-
den or a paradise." Miriam's body "was not flexible and
living," and she is "physically afraid." Jude contrasts
the "tight, apple-like convexities" of Sue's body to
"Arabella's amplitudes," and Miriam reflects Sue's quality
of clenched physicality: "Everything was gripped stiff with
intensity, and her effort, overcharged, closed in on it-
Like Sue, Miriam "wished she were a man," and Miriam
associates this desire with the desire for knowledge, or
"I should think women ought to be as glad
to be women as men are to be men," Paul said.
"No!" -- she shook her head -- "no!
Everything the men have."
"But what do you want?" he asked.
"I want to learn" (SL 154-155).
Lawrence views Sue Bridehead in the Study as living accord-
ing to "the ultra-Christian principle -- of living entirely
according to the Spirit," identifying herself "utterly with
the male principle."17 He has drawn Miriam in the same
mold: she is concerned primarily with knowing, religious
(she sings "like a nun, like a Botticelli Madonna"), and
repulsed by the physical ("she had no body"). She too asks
for (as Lawrence says of Sue in the Study) "what perhaps no
man can give: passionate love without physical desire"
Perhaps the best example of the similarity between Sue
and Miriam is found in a set of parallel episodes concern-
ing roses. In the earlier novel, Jude, Sue and Father Time
are wandering about the Agricultural Fair at Stoke-Barehills,
under the watchful eye of Arabella. Eventually the three
enter the pavilion of flowers, and Arabella spies
Sue detaining Jude almost against his will
while she learnt the names of this variety
and that, and put her face within an inch
of their blooms to smell them.
'I should like to push my face quite
into them -- the dears!' she has said
Lawrence remarks on this scene in the Study:
The real marriage of Jude and Sue was in the
roses. Then, in the third state, in the spirit,
these two beings met upon the roses and in the
roses were symbolized in consummation. The
rose is the symbol of marriage -- consummation
in its beauty. To them it is more than a symbol,
it is a fact, a flaming experience.
They went home tremblingly glad. And then
the horror when, because of Jude's unsatisfaction,
he must take Sue sexually. The flaming experience
became a falsity, or an ignis fatuus leading them
on (P 506-507).
Sue and Jude, then, consummate their spiritual union in the
roses, but this kind.of consummation is not, at last,
enough for Jude, as it will not be enough for Paul Morel.
In the "Lad-and-Girl Love" chapter of Lawrence's novel,
Paul and Miriam also have a passionate "communion" over
roses, but while Miriam walks home afterwards "feeling her
soul satisfied with the holiness of the night," Paul feels
"anxious and imprisoned" (SL 160). Later Paul despises
Miriam for her unearthly affection for flowers:
To [Miriam], flowers appealed with such
strength she felt she must make them part
of herself. When she bent and breathed a
flower, it was as if she and the flower
were loving each other. Paul hated her
for it (SL 173).
These similar episodes display a quality of Sue and
Miriam which can be described only as ethereal. Both women
eventually feel compelled to combat that ethereality by sac-
rificing their virginal beings, in order to keep their
lovers. Lawrence calls Sue's sexual relations with Jude
"a submission, a service, a slavery"; in his novel Miriam
regards sexual intercourse with Paul a "suffering" and a
"sacrifice" (SL 284). Oddly enough, perhaps, Lawrence
views Sue's accession to Jude's sexual desires as a lament-
able nullification of self, "a profanation and a pollution,"
in which Sue breaks the unique form of herself (P 504).
Her marriage to Jude is damned, says Lawrence, "partly by
their very being, but chiefly by their incapacity to accept
the conditions of their own and each other's being" (P 505).
This is, it seems to me, an overly complex way of saying
that Sue and Jude (and Paul and Miriam) are incompatible.
If one of the lovers accepts the conditions of the other's
being, he denies the conditions of his own being. Damnation
seems inevitable, sexually speaking, for both couples.
When Lawrence finally does create a sexually compatible
couple of two highly developed individuals in Women in Love,
he does not choose such disjunctive sexual beings to do it.
If Miriam and Sue and disciples of Venus Urania, "where
desire plays only a secondary part" (J 210), Clara and Ara-
bella hail Aphrodite Pandemos. Both of these women are
creatures of almost pure physicality, and both introduce
their lovers into physical manhood. Lawrence says of Ara-
bella in the Hardy Study, "Arabella brought [Jude] to him-
self, gave him himself, made him free, sound as a physical
male" (P 494). These women lead their lovers to knowledge
of "the primal impulses that rise in them" (P 418); and
Clara, like Arabella, celebrates a "baptism of fire in
passion" (SL 318) which awakens her lover to his physical
self. One must remember the lengths to which Lawrence
goes, in the Study, to vindicate Arabella as a healthy,
generic woman of passion. He calls her, amazingly enough,
"in character somewhat an aristocrat," and compares her to
Hardy's Eustacia Vye! (P 490). Lawrence's reading is no
doubt an extreme one, but it is of use to us to see Ara-
bella through his eyes, for his picture of Hardy's sensual
female becomes Clara in his own novel. Perhaps, in this
regard, even the similarity of the sound of the names is
Lawrence objects to Hardy's unsympathetic portrayal of
Arabella: "he must have his personal revenge on her for
her coarseness, which offends him, because he is something
of an Angel Clare" (P 489). In both the Study and his
novel, Lawrence beautifies the blunt physicality of the two
women. His picture of Clara seems especially reminiscent
of the Arabella of Lawrence's essay on Hardy:
Clara sat leaning on the table, holding
aloof. [Paul] noticed her hands were large,
but well kept. And the skin on them seemed
almost coarse, opaque, and white. . .
She did not mind if he observed her hands.
She intended to scorn him. Her heavy arm
lay negligently on the table. Her mouth
was closed as if she were offended, and she
kept her face slightly averted (SL 230).
Clara is developed as a character of generic female sexual-
ity by the frequent descriptions of her ripe, heavy body,
by frequent references to Paul's sexual desire for her,
and by a barrage of allusions to Clara as the Queen of
Sheba, Eve, Juno, and Penelope. Paul often thinks of her
as simply "the woman," and refers to her as a natural
"force," and "strange, life wild at the source" (SL 353).
Clara is imagistically linked with the great stallion of
Chapter IX, a recurrent Laurentian symbol of sexuality,
with the sea, and with the river Trent, which is compared
to the torrential emotion of love-making (SL 363). Ara-
bella is also revealed imagistically by Hardy; she is in-
evitably linked with the pig's pizzle which she throws at
Jude in the opening chapter. Perhaps we can agree with
Lawrence that this is hardly a sympathetic representation
of the kinds of things Arabella comes to stand for in Jude.
Lawrence's analysis of Arabella concludes that she
fails Jude because of her "selfish instinct for love,"
because she does not give herself to him (P 493). Clara's
failure with Paul is similar: she is unable to give of
herself, chiefly because she is afraid of Paul's changeling
personality. Paul offers her no "security" or "surety,"
and Clara is unwilling to embrace Paul's demand for "a
sense of freedom" in love (SL 360). Clara has, however,
"gained herself" in her affair with Paul:
But at any rate, she knew now, she was sure
of herself. And the same could almost be
said of him. Together they had received
the baptism of life, each through the other;
but now their missions were separate (SL 361).
Clara can now accept her husband because she has gained
self-knowledge through passion, and because she can feel
secure in Dawes' affection. Clara is "'saved,' restored,
to realization of herself as woman, and to her husband" by
the fire of passion; not, as John Edward Hardy would have
it, by "the artist [Paul] as savior."18 This identification
of the means of salvation is important because it is the
center of value in Sons and Lovers: Clara, Paul, and even
Mrs. Morel are given, self-hood through baptism in passion.
Miriam, on the other hand, seems irrevocably lost.
Jude and Paul contain the opposite poles of being
which are represented by their women. Again, Lawrence sees
Hardy's character in terms which seem to describe his own.
As I have suggested, Jude and Paul become whole through sex,
as Lawrence views it. As he says in the Study, Jude "be-
comes a grown, independent man in the arms of Arabella,
conscious of having met, and satisfied, the female demand
in him. This makes a man of any youth. He is proven unto
himself as a male being, initiated into the freedom of
life. . She gave him to himself" (P 493-494). This
is precisely the point that Sons and Lovers makes about
P'aul, that his love-making with Clara gives him the freedom
and knowledge to be himself (cf. SL 354; 361). In this act
of sexual consummation, Paul establishes his male identity,
symbolically assuming the dialect of his father for the
occasion. Lawrence reads Jude and writes Sons and Lovers
from the perspective that makes "struggle into being"
through sexual experience the controlling theme and central
issue of both novels. Initially, Paul is "like too many
young men of his own age" (SL 276), and in the manner of
Hardy's Angel Clare who is "a sample product of the last
five-and-twenty years,19 afraid of sexuality, tending more
toward the ethereal and imaginative life. The "male prin-
ciple" of intellection is exalted,according to Lawrence,
in the Fawley family of which Jude and Sue are the issue
(P 494), and it is obviously exalted in Gertrude Morel's
father, "who preferred theology in reading, and who drew
near in sympathy only to one man, the Apostle Paul; who
was harsh in government, and in familiarity ironic; who
ignored all sensuous pleasure" (SL 10). If Jude's being
is split between flesh and mind, Paul's existence is "one
internecine battle" (SL 173) between the spiritual and the
physical worlds, between the male and female principles of
Jude, says Lawrence, is unsatisfied with either Sue
or Arabella because he lacks that consummative experience
with a woman which would unfold for him the mysteries of
life and the self:
[Jude] wanted the consummation of marriage
. that deepest experience, that pene-
trating far into the unknown and undis-
covered which lies in the body and blood
of man and woman, during life. He wanted
to receive from her the quickening, the
primitive seed and impulse which should
start him to a new birth. And for this
he must go back deep into the primal, un-
shown, unknown life of the blood, the thick
source-stream of life in her (P 503).
Whatever this mysterious "life of the blood" is that Jude
craves, it is fairly obvious that Lawrence gives it to
Paul, whose love-making with Clara
included in their meeting the thrust of the
manifold grass stems, the cry of the peewit,
the wheel of the stars.*
They felt small, half-afraid, childish
and wondering, like Adam and Eve when they
lost their innocence and realized the mag-
nificance of the power which drove them out
of Paradise and across the great night and
the great day of humanity. It was for each
of them an initiation and a satisfaction.
To know their own nothingness, to know the
tremendous living flood which carried them
always, gave them rest within themselves.
If so great a magnificent power could over-
whelm 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 veri-
fication which they had had together.
Nothing could nullify it, nothing could take
it away; it was almost their belief in life.
It was as if they had been blind agents
of a great force (SL 353-354).
*Lawrence's cosmic ontological view of being and sexual
consummation is not complex, and might be best outlined by
a few lines from a well-known poem by Dylan Thomas, who
displays a similar view of reality:
The force that through the green fuse drives
With this passage, Lawrence has rectified the 'shortcomings'
of Jude the Obscure: he has given Paul the "new birth"
which evaded Jude, and he has allowed his hero, as Jude was
not allowed, to discover his best self where, Lawrence
would say, it ought to and must be found -- in the cosmic
mystery of sexual consummation.
Both Jude and Paul, it seems clear, realize their mis-
take in attempting to achieve satisfaction with Sue and
Miriam, with whom they have so much in common, but who are,
as it were, virgins by nature. Jude says to Sue, "'I se-
duced you. . You were a distinct type -- a refined
creature, intended by Nature to be left intact'" (J 383).
Love-making with Miriam gives Paul "always the sense of
failure and of death," and eventually "he realized, con-
sciously, that it was no good. It was useless trying: it
would never be a success between them" (SL 292). Both pro-
tagonists, then, learn the 'conditions of being' in others
as well as themselves. For Jude, this learning process is
Drives my green age; that blasts the roots
Is my destroyer.
The force that drives the water through the rocks
Drives my red blood; that dries the mouthing
Turns mine to wax.
And I am dumb to tell the lover's tomb
How at my sheet goes the same crooked worm.
(Collected Poems [New York: New Directions, 1957] p. 10;
11. 1-3; 6-8; 21-22).
an end: Jude is a life-story. Sons and Lovers, however,
is a bildungsroman, and at its end Paul is on the threshold
of adulthood. It is in this essential distinction that the
fundamental differences in the characters and characteriza-
tion of the two novels may be said to lie.
Perhaps the most significant difference between Jude
the Obscure and Sons and Lovers is the centrality in the
former, and the absence in the latter of a controlling com-
munity structure. The drama of Jude Fawley unfolds in the
conflict between man and society, between Jude the individ-
ual and abstract societal norms. One of the key issues of
the novel is that "'social moulds . ..have no relation
to our actual shapes,'" as Sue puts it (J 247); the in-
dividual is not accommodated by society. Jude moves crab-
like between "gown life" and "town life" (J 162), between
the rude village of Marygreen and the mystic spires of
Jude is full of scenes which dramatize the dual nature
of the protagonist's personality, -- that he is a laborer
and a scholar at once. One such scene occurs at Christmin-
ster, on the night Jude has received the letter from Tetu-
phenay advising him to stick to his trade. Jude wanders
subsequently about the city, entering a public bar full
of common people, and eventually proceeding home,
choosing a circuitous route homeward to
pass the gates of the College whose Head
[Tetuphenay] had just sent him the note.
The gates were shut, and, by impulse,
he took from his pocket the lump of chalk
which as a workman he usually carried
there, and wrote along the wall:
'I have understanding as well as you;
I am not inferior to you: yea, who
knoweth not such things as these?'
-- Job xii.3 (J 162).
Throughout the novel we see Jude "as a workman" and as a
self-taught scholar, and we see the forms of society re-
fusing to accommodate Jude's uniqueness. "The modern vice
of unrest," which the narrator attributes to Jude, is a
vice primarily because of society's inability, or unwilling-
ness, to adapt to the needs and desires of "human develop-
ment in its richest diversity." Jude is, to be sure, in
conflict with his self; but the fundamental conflict of his
life is with the "social moulds" and "formulas" of his age.
Paul Morel, on the other hand, is not involved with
his community's structure. He is, of course, attempting
to construct a new morality in which he can live. For
Paul, however, this activity involves a withdrawal from
society rather than a continued confrontation with it, as
we have in Jude. Paul is not concerned with Nottingham
as Jude is with Christminster. He is concerned with
"Being," or "the great unknown," or some other such cosmic
concept. Paul's turning toward "the faintly humming, glow-
ing town" at the end of the novel is not, I suspect, so
much a renewed confrontation with society as it is a choice
of life over death. This Final decision resolves the
problem of the last chapter, entitled "Derelict":
So the weeks went on. Always alone, his
soul oscillated, first on the side of death,
then on the side of life, doggedly. The real
agony was that he had nowhere to go, nothing
to do, nothing to say, and was nothing him-
self. Sometimes he ran down the streets as
if he were made; sometimes he was mad; things
weren't there, things were there. It made
him pant. Sometimes he stood before the bar
of the public-house where he called for a
drink. Everything suddenly stood back away
from him. He saw the face of the barmaid,
the gabbling drinkers, his own glass on the
slopped, mahogany board, in the distance.
There was something between him and them.
He could not get into touch. He did not
want them; he did not want his drink. Turn-
ing abruptly, he went out. On the threshold
he stood and looked at the lighted street.
But he was not of it or in it. Something
separated him. Everything went on there
below those lamps, shut away from him. He
could not get at them. He felt he couldn't
touch the lampposts, not if he reached.
Where could he go? There was nowhere to go,
neither back into the inn, or forward any-
where. He felt stifled. There was nowhere
for him. The stress grew inside him; he
felt he should smash (SL 412).
Paul ultimately affirms life -- alone. He refuses Miriam's
maternal, self-sacrificing embrace; and he gives Clara
back to her husband. Jude dies a Samsonian death as a
tragic prisoner in an alien society; Paul embraces his role
as "a tiny upright speck" in the immense, timeless cosmos.
Raymond Williams sees the distinction here when he
writes, "Hardy does not celebrate isolation and separation.
He mourns them."20 Jude's inability to find his just
place in the world of men is, for Hardy, the most tragic
of possibilities. But Lawrence, in Sons and Lovers, in
The Rainbow, and most finally in Women in Love, dramatizes
the conflict of the self with itself, and celebrates the
star-like singularity of the individual.21 The journey
from Marygreen to Christminster is a cultural and social
journey, but the journey from Paul Morel's ash-pits to the
"phosphorescent" city is a psychological and religious
quest. Paul's trek,. which will be made again by the Brang-
wen family in The Rainbow, moves toward individuation,
self-knowledge, and self-fulfillment. The only means of
transportation in this journey is love. In the physical
and spiritual consummation of love the "unknown," that is,
the invisible part of the person, the unconscious mind and
the hidden emotions and passions, is made known, at least
to the self. This is how self-hood is achieved (e.g.,
Mrs. Morel, Paul Morel, Clara, Tom Brangwen, Will Brangwen,
Ursula, Rupert Birkin). Furthermore, not only is the
journey made through love, but the "new world"22 itself
shall be established by the experience and values of "the
love of a man for a woman and a woman for a man. The via
media to being, for man or woman, is love, and love alone."
The struggle into individual and isolated being is the
struggle of Sons and Lovers and The Rainbow; the foundation
of a new world, of a modern community, is the subject of
Women in Love.
Modern Fiction Studies, 5 (Spring 1959), 19-28.
Other brief comments suggesting Hardy's influence on
The White Peacock include Graham Hough, The Dark Sun (New
York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1959), pp. 24, 27; Kenneth
Young, D. H. Lawrence (New York: Longmans, Green and Co.,
1952), p. 19; Anthony West, D. H. Lawrence (London: Arthur
Baker, 1950), p. 112; William York Tindall, D. II. Lawrence
and Susan His Cow (New York: Columbia University Press,
1939), p. 201; and Richard Aldington, D. H. Lawrence:
Portrait of a Genius But . (New York: Duell, Sloan
and Pearce, 1950), p. 122.
The D. Ii. Lawrence Review, 2 (Fall 1969), 210-29.
5p. 127. I have used the Standard Edition (New York:
Harper and Row, 1966), ed. and with intro. by Robert B.
Heilman. Hereafter cited as J in text.
6Phoenix, p. 495. Hereafter cited as P in text.
7Sons and Lovers (New York: Viking Press, 1958),
p. 9; hereafter cited as SL in the text.
8The English Novel from Dickens to Lawrence (New York:
Oxford University Press, 1970), p. 175.
See Louis L. Martz, "Portrait of Miriam: A Study
in the Design of Sons and Lovers," Imagined Worlds, ed.
Maynard Mack and lan Gregor (London: Methuen, 1968),
343-70, for an intriguing analysis of Paul's inability
to see Miriam as she really is.
10Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1970,
1This compliance, on the other hand, is Phillotson's
great shortcoming;soc Norman Holland, "Jude the Obscure:
Hardy's Symbolic Indictment of Christianity," Nineteenth-
Century Fiction, 9: 51.
1See Judc, part III, chap. 9, 10; IV, 5; and Sons
and Lovers, p. 279. Also see Robert B. Heilman's article,
"Hardy's Sue Bridehead," Nineteenth-Century Fiction, 20
(March, 1966), 307-23.
4Ward Hellstrom, "Jude the Obscure as Pagan Self-
assertion," Victorian Newsletter, No. 29: 26.
Wi'ords or phrases in quotation marks are taken from
the following chapters, respectively: [II, 3; III, 9;
III, 9; IV, 3; IV, 5; V, 1; VI, 3; VI, 3; V, 4; and V, 1.
1Quoted descriptions of Miriam taken from pages 142,
148, 153, 152, and 154, respectively.
7Phoenix, p. 496, 498. In "Hardy's Sue Bridehead,"
Robert Heilman says the same thing more formally, without
the Laurentian jargon: "[Sue's] deficiency in sex, what-
ever its precise psychological nature, is a logical
correlative of her enthroning of critical intellect" (319)
13Man in the Modern Novel (Seattle: University of
Washington Press, 1964), p. 61.
9Tess of the d'Urbervilles (New York: Norton, 1965),
p. 221. After Sons and Lovers was completed, Lawrence
wrote to Edward Garnett, "Its the tragedy of thousands
of young men in England -- it may even be Bunny's [Law-
rence's friend David Garnett's] tragedy. I think it
was Ruskin's, and men like him" (Collected Letters, ed.
Moore, p. 161).
20Williams, p. 117.
21In the Study (e.g., p. 419-21; 479-82), Lawrence
continually complains that Hardy and Tolstoy allow the
social code of conventional morality to punish and
destroy the protagonist. At one point, Lawrence charges
that this "is the weakness of modern tragedy, where trans-
gression against the social code is made to bring destruc-
tion, as though the social code worked our irrevocable
fate. Like Clym [Yeobright], the map appears to us more
real than the land. Shortsighted almost to blindness,
we pore over the chart, map out journeys, and confirm
them: and we cannot see life itself giving us the lie
the whole time" (p. 420).
2Collected Letters, ed. Moore, p. 422: "There must
be a new world."
CONNECTING THE OLD AND THE NEW: A STUDY
OF THE CHARACTERS OF THE RAINBOW
If you will go down into yourself, under your
you will find you have a great desire to drink
from the source, not out of bottles and bottled
What the old people call immediate contact with
That strange essential communication of life
not bottled in human bottles.
what even the wild witchcraft of the past was
before it degenerated.
Life from the source, unadulterated
with the human taint.
Contact with the sun of suns
that shines somewhere in the atom, somewhere
pivots the curved space,
and cares not a straw for the put-up human
Communion with the Godhead, they used to say
in the past.
But even that is human-tainted now,
tainted with the ego and the personality.
To feel a fine, fine breeze blowing through
the navel and the knees
and have a cool sense of truth, inhuman truth
softly fluttering the senses, in the exquisite
orgasm of coition
with the godhead of energy that cannot tell
The cool, cool truth of pure vitality
pouring into the veins from the direct contact
with the source.
Uncontaminated by even the beginnings of a lie.
The soul's first passion is for sheer life
entering in shocks of truth, unfouled by lies.
And the soul's next passion is to reflect
and then turn round and embrace the extant body
with the thrusting embrace of new justice, new
between men and men, men and women, and earth
and stars, and suns.
The passion of justice being profound and subtle
and changing in a flow as all passions change.
But the passion of justice is a primal embrace
between man and all his known universe.
And the passion of truth is the embrace between
man and his god
in the sheer coition of the life-flow, stark and
D. H. Lawrence, The Primal
If the marriage of Gertrude and Walter Morel had suc-
ceeded, it might have looked something like the relation-
ship of Tom Brangwen and Lydia Lensky in Lawrence's next
novel, The Rainbow. In this novel, which unfolds the tale
of three generations of the Brangwen family aspiring
toward and finally reaching modernity, Lawrence employs
many of the same elements of character we observed in Sons
and Lovers. Furthermore, The Rainbow seeias to have as its
literary ancestor another Hardy novel, The Return of the
Native (1878). Whether or not this new employment of
Hardian themes was a conscious adaptation is of little
importance: an investigation of this parallel will illumi-
nate the art and characters of Lawrence's novel. IE we
add a third element, that of developing imagination, we
will have, I think, the formula for examining the charac-
ters of The Rainbow: reworking of old characters, adapta-
tion of another writer's characters, and imaginative devel-
opment toward Lawrence's self-proclaimed "new characters."
The Rainbow begins with the same metaphysical polarity
with which Sons and Lovers began: "sensuous . non-
intellectual" men contrasted by (and married to) women who
have or desire intellectual consciousness (SL 9-10). Here
again the characters embody the dialectical principles
which Lawrence sees at the center of all life: --the con-
flict of the Male Principle, representing mind, knowledge,
and consciousness, with the Female Principle, representing
the senses, feeling, and unconscious connection with the
primal impulses of life. These principles are also re-
versed in their embodiment in the characters, as they were
in Sons and Lovers; the men embody the Female Principle of
"blood intimacy" with the earth:
They felt the rush of the sap in spring,
they knew the wave which cannot halt, but
every year throws forward the seed to beget-
ting, and, falling back, leaves the young-
born on the earth. They knew the intercourse
between heaven and earth, sunshine drawn into
the breast and bowels, the rain sucked up in
the daytime, nakedness that comes under the
wind in autumn, showing the birds' nests no
longer worth hiding. Their life and inter-
relations were such; feeling the pulse and
body of the soil, that opened to their furrow
for the grain, and became smooth and supple
after their ploughing, and clung to their
feet with a weight that pulled like desire,
lying hard and unresponsive when the crops
were to be shorn away. The young corn waved
and was silken, and the lustre slid along
the limbs of the men who saw it. They took
the udder of the cows, the cows yielded milk
and pulse against the hands of the men, the
pulse of the blood of the teats of the cows
beat into the pulse of the hands of the men.1
And the women embody the first stirring of the Male Prin-
ciple, the desire for consciousness and articulation:
The women were different. On them too
was the drowse of blood-intimacy. . .
But the women looked out from the heated,
blind intercourse of farm life, to the
spoken world beyond. They were aware of
the world speaking and giving utterance,
they heard the sound in the distance, and
they strained to listen . .
The women wanted another form of life
.. She stood to see the far-off world
of cities and governments and the active
scope of man, the magic land to her, where
secrets were made known and desires ful-
filled (R 2,3).
These generalized characterizations represent the inclina-
tions of the men and women of the Brangwen family before
1840, but the same polarity of being exists in Tom Brangwen
and Lydia Lensky, the first generation with which this
chronicle is intimately concerned. Arising from this
structural contrast of opposing principles, however, Tom
and Lydia become "everynan" characters, representing types
of men and women in the rural world of the Marsh Farm.
Tom Brangwen inherits from his ancestors a manner of living
and a mode of viewing the world which is intimately
connected to the land. He is a representative of the un-
conscious, rural community -- with one exception. Tom is
affected throughout his life by "his mother's conception"
(R 10) of what he should be, of what the good life is.
Tom's mother wants him to become conscious, wants him to
develop an intellective and articulate nature, and to this
end she sends him to school (cf. Mrs. Morel sending William
and Paul to school to escape the colliery pits). This
attempt to escape the "inner world" of the Brangwen farm
is a failure: "For [Tom] there was nothing palpable,
nothing known in himself, that he could apply to learning"
(R 11); but it is this struggle, this attempt to develop
conscious being, that is the central struggle of the first
three quarters of the novel.
Perhaps the issue may be stated simply: in order to
achieve self-fulfillment in a modern world, one must become
modern; and being modern demands a precarious balance of
intellectual and physical completeness.
The demand for intellectual development apparently
coincides, for Lawrence, with the coming of the machine.3
In Tom Brangwen's childhood ("about 1840") the Marsh suf-
fers an "invasion" by the machine: a canal and a railroad
cut off the farm from the city, and a colliery is sunk on
the other side of the canal. However,
the Marsh remained remote and original, on
the old, quiet side of the canal embankment,
in the sunny valley where slow water wound
along in company of stiff alders, and the
road went under the ash-trees past the
Brangwen's garden gate (R 6).
The farm remains rural, despite the "trespass" of industry;
but it does not remain untouched. The canal makes the
Brangwens "strangers in their own place," and the engines
of the trains are "a narcotic to the brain." The approach
of the modern, industrial world induces a mixed response
in the rural people:
The shrill whistle of the trains re-echoed
through the heart, with fearsome pleasure,
announcing the far-off come near and immi-
nent (R 7).
The echoes of Hardy are, I think, fairly evident,
though Hardy's world of Egdon Heath is only a starting
place for Lawrence. The description of Egdon in the Study
as "the dark, powerful source whence all things rise into
being . ., the primal impulsive body [which] goes on pro-
ducing all that was to be produced" (P 418), also describes
the Marsh Farm, from which all the characters spring and
to which they must all return. In the Author's Preface to
the 1895 edition of The Return of the Native, Hardy writes,
"the date at which the following events are assumed to have
occurred may be set down as between 1840 and 1850," and
Lawrence specifically begins his story of Tom Brangwen at
about the same time (R 6). Tom's father, Alfred, is a man
who "followed his natural inclinations," and who is remi-
niscent, perhaps, of the rustics of the Heath. The Rainbow
really begins, however, with Tom, who is the first Brangwen
male to feel the intimations of desire to become conscious.
The first chapter of the book, entitled "How Tom
Brangwen Married a Polish Lady," is about the result of
those intimations. Unable to become conscious himself,
Tom is drawn to dreams "of foreign parts," though he is in-
capable of escape from the Marsh: "it was a very strong
root which held him to the Marsh, to his own house and
land" (R 21). Thus when Tom sees Lydia Lensky for the
first time, he says, "'That's her' . involuntarily,"
automatically voicing his desire to graph onto himself some
element of the conscious world. Lydia is the high-born
widow of a Polish revolutionary, and is, in Tom's eyes,
from "another world of life" (R 27). Lydia is "over-con-
scious," "strange," and "foreign," but Tom sees their mar-
riage as fated, and world transforming:
It was coming, he knew, his fate. The
world was submitting to its transformation.
He made no move: it would come what would
come (R 27).
Tom and Lydia thus not only embody the male-female
dialectic outlined in the Study (an' apparehnt'ih'"the rela-
tionship of Gertrude and Walter Morel), they also represent
a natural development in the "greater ordering" of the
world (R 35). This marriage of the unconscious rural world
to the "over-conscious" foreign one is "natural," "fated,"
and "ordained." The outcome of this marriage is a two-fold
rebirth: first, as both chaXLacters are "rebqjnlL. (R 34) in
the other, Tom gains knowledge of himself in his sexual
consummation with Lydia, just as Arabella reveals Jude to
himself (according to Lawrence), and Paul achieves self-
knowledge through Clara:
[Tom] let go his hold on himself, he
relinquished himself, and knew the sub-
terranean force of his desire to come to
her, to be with her, to mingle with her,
losing himself to find her, to find him-
self in her (R 90).
Tom is ultimately, however, "without understanding" and
"unsatisfied" (R 124): though he marries with a part of
the conscious world, he cannot himself attain it.
Second, Lydia Lensky's rebirth takes the form of a
repudiation of her former, conscious life. Lydia is "re-
lieved" at the death of her intellectual husband, and she
slowly establishes a primal connection with rural England,
as her "automatic consciousness gave way" (R 47). Lydia's
"instinct" takes over command of her self, denying her
former and consciously mental existence:
After she had been with him in the
Marsh kitchen, the voice of her body had
risen strong and insistent. . .
She got to know him better, and her
instinct fixed on him -- just on him.
Her impulse was strong against him, be-
cause he was not of her own sort. But
one blind instinct led her, to take
him. . She felt the rooted safety
of him, and the life in him (R 50).
When her first son is born, Lydia gives over her old, out-
side life: "She seemed to lose connection with her former
self. She became now really English, really Mrs. Brangwen"
(R 77). By the time her second son is born, Lydia "scarcely
noticed the outer things at all" (R 97). If the marriage
of Tom and Lydia satisfies some of the longing in the
former for the "outside world," Lydia herself is rejuve-
nated by "the teeming life of creation" of the "inner
world." She finds "a new being, a new form" in order to
respond to the "blind insistence" of Brangwen (R 34-35).
Lydia establishes a connection with the 'impersonal forces'
that drive the flowers and also drive her:
The warmth flowed through her, she felt
herself opening, unfolding, asking, as a
flower opens in full request under the sun,
as the beaks of tiny birds open flat to re-
ceive, to receive. And unfolded she turned
to him, straight to him. And he came,
slowly afraid, held back by uncouth fear,
and driven by a desire bigger than himself
In fact, Lydia now enters perhaps into a deeper con-
nection with the Marsh Farm than her husband. In a richly
proleptic episode, Tom is "roused to chaos" by his in-
ability to understand Lydia's sexual desires and periods
of dormancy. He tries to assert his will over her, and in
doing so rejects her "otherness," and Lydia tells him,
"you take me like your cattle, . I want you to know
there is somebody there besides yourself" (R 89). Tom,
then, is not only provincial in his inability to understand
the outer world of the continent, Poland, or international
intrigue; he is also too provincial to decipher the cosmic
sexual forces at work in the world. He cannot comprehend,
or even accept, at first, the rhythms and needs of Lydia's
body nor the natural and organic expressions of her commit-
ment to him. Ile is, specifically, unable "to yield himself
naked out of his own hands into the unknown power" (R 53)
that has all along driven him into this new and mysterious
relationship with a mysterious woman. Lydia has learned,
as Tom has not, that (as Lawrence says in a letter), "it is
not your brain you must trust to, nor your will -- but to
that fundamental pathetic faculty for receiving the hidden
waves that come from the depths of life. . It is some-
thing which happens below the consciousness."5 Tom's final
reconciliation with Lydia arises from his pure acceptance
of her otherness. He still does not know her foreign
nature, nor does he understand her Polis.h past; but he is
now unconsciously aware of the sexual rhythms of her being:
"he knew her, he knew her meaning, without understanding"
(R 91), and this unconscious acceptance leads to God:
Now He was declared to Brangwen and to
Lydia Brangwen, as they stood together.
When at last they had joined hands, the
house was finished, and the Lord took up
his abode (R 92).
Throughout the novel, we will observe increasingly conscious
characters achieving self-fulfillment only when they even-
tually return to the roots of being. Lydia's daughter,
Anna, must establish a dark connection of the flesh with
her husband (R 233); and in the third generation, Ursula
must satisfy the "potent, dark stream of her own blood"
(R 449) in order to find wholeness of being. The point is
that, in this book where developing consciousness is the
theme, consciousness is not enough. One may have a con-
scious awareness of the world, but one must have connection
with the cosmic forces which drive all life. This is what
Lawrence means by being faithful to "the unfathomed moral
forces of nature":
Oedipus, Hamlet, Macbeth set themselves up
against, or find themselves set up against,
the unfathomed moral forces of nature, and
out of this unfathomed force comes their
death. Whereas Anna Karenina, Eustacia,
Tess, Sue, and Jude find themselves up
against the established system of human
government and morality, they cannot detach
themselves, and are brought down. Their
real tragedy is that they are unfaithful to.
the greater unwritten morality, which would
have bidden Anna Karenina be patient and
wait until she, by virtue of greater right,
could take what she needed from society;
would have bidden Vronsky detach himself
from the system, become an individual,
creating a new colony of morality with Anna;
would have bidden Eustacia fight Clym for
his own soul, and Tess take and claim her
Angel, since she had the greater light;
would have bidden Jude and Sue endure for
very honour's sake, since one must bide by
the best that one has known, and not succumb
to the lesser good (P 420).
Only by establishing contact with the cosmic forces of
nature can one "become an individual."
Consciousness, on the other hand, is not primarily a
necessary condition for wholeness of being, but a product
of man's developing nature. The urge to know is a secondary
development in man, springing from a dissatisfaction with
his priial connections with nature:
Man is stirred into thought by dissatis-
faction, or unsatisfaction, as heat is born
of friction. Consciousness is the same effort
in male and female to obtain perfect friction-
less interaction, perfect as Nirvana. It is
the reflex both of male and female from defect
in their dual motion (P 446).
Lawrence also explains in the Study the motivation and
function of consciousness, which is, as he puts it, a
lately developed habit of the human species which stems
from the inevitable process of individuation:
The mind itself is one of life's later-
developed habits. To know is a force, like
any other force. Knowledge is only one of
the conditions of this force, as combustion
is one of the conditions of heat. To will
is only a manifestation of the same force,
as expansion may be a manifestation of heat.
And this knowing is now an inevitable habit
of life's developed late; it is .a force
active in the immediate rear of life: and
the greater its activity, the greater the
forward, unknown movement ahead of it. . .
Man's consciousness, that is, his mind,
his knowledge, is his greater manifestation
of individuality (P 431).
One of the themes I attempted to develop in Chapter II was
the mutual concern of Hardy and Lawrence for "Human develop-
ment in its richest diversity." Here again we see Lawrence's
interest in the manner by which individuality develops.
The preceding quotations from the Study reveal that Law-
rence believed consciousness to be a signpost of man's
eternal development toward greater and more complete in-
dividuality. In order to attain wholeness of being in the
modern world, then, man must find fulfillment in the mental
as well as the physical facet of the self. The Rainbow
is about this process of becoming conscious in an uncon-
scious land, about becoming an individual in the modern
world. We must now turn to the second generation of the
still unconscious, still "unsatisfied" Brangwcn family, in
order to see what direction that process of becoming takes.
Anna Lensky is the daughter of Lydia and her Polish
husband. She is only a small child when she comes to live
at the Marsh Farm, and is thus symbolically and literally
a product of two worlds. We are already aware of many of
the attributes of those worlds by the time Anna becomes a
principal character about one-third of the way into the
novel, and this quality of character revelation, which
might be called repetition with variation, stems from the
organizing principle of the novel. This principle, as
F. R. Leavis has pointed out, is a rhythmic one: a "move-
ment that, by recurrence along with newness, brings con-
tinually a significant recall of what has gone before."
The reader must continually refer to what he knows of Tom
and Lydia in order to understand Anna.
Anna is initially presented as a self-possessed, will-
ful child who clings to Lydia and is "detached" from Tom.
On the night Lydia gives birth to their first son, however,
Tom takes Anna into his world by initiating her into the
world of "blood-intimacy" of the farm. As she watches her
stepfather feed the cows in the barn, the child is filled
with wonder, and "a new being was created in her for the
new conditions" (R 74). This rebirth into the world of
Marsh Farm parallels Lydia's earlier creation of a new self
"to meet the new conditions" of the "blind" (unconscious)
insistency of the rural world (R 34).
The first two years of Anna's life at the Marsh (when
she is seven and eight years old) are related in Chapter
III, entitled "Childhood of Anna Lcnsky." The girl does
not truly become a Brangwen, the title implies, until Tom
is able to accept the conditions of Lydia's being, and to
thereby make their marriage harmonious. When this arch of
marital stability is established, "the house is finished,"
the Lord takes up his abode, and the succeeding chapter is
entitled "Girlhood of Anna Brangwen."
Anna is a rather strange creature, distant, aloof and
proud, and she remains an "alien" in Cossethay and the
neighboring town of Ilkeston. This strangeness is not ex-
plained, but is implicitly rendered as the result of her
dual nature as a transplanted boing. Anna "inherits" her
stepfather's fascination with "the outside world," which
she calls "the real world, where kings and lords and princes
moved and fulfilled their shining lives" (R 95). Her
mother's friend, an expatriated Pole named Baron Skrebensky,
becomes Anna's symbol of the conscious, outside world. The
Baron is described as "the first person [Anna] met, who
affected her as a real, living person, whom she regarded
as having a definite existence" (R 94). (Years later,
Anna will contrast "the curious enveloping Brangwen inti-
macy" of the "uncritical, unironical" husband with the
sharp, detached objectivity of the Baron [R 195-197]).
Anna is "cramped" (R 101) by the farm, and she soon falls
in love with her cousin-by-law, Will Brangwen, whom she
sees as a door to the outside world: "In him the bounds
of her experience were transgressed: he was the hole in
the wall, beyond which the sunshine blazed on an outside
world"(R 109). Will inspires this hope of escape in Anna
primarily through his interest in architecture.
He was interested in churches, in church
architecture. The influence of Ruskin had
stimulated him to a pleasure in the medieval
forms. His talk was fragmentary, he was only
half articulate. But listening to him, as he
spoke of church after church, of nave and
chancel and transept, of rood-screen and font,
of hatchet-carving and moulding and tracery,
speaking always with close passion of par-
ticular things, particular places, there
gathered in her heart a pregnant hush of
churches, a mystery, a ponderous significance
of bowed stone, a dim-coloured light through
which something took place obscurely, passing
into darkness: a high, delighted framework
of the mystic screen, and beyond, in the
furthest beyond, the alter. It was a very
real experience. She was carried away. And
the land seemed to be covered with a vast,
mystic church, reserved in gloom, thrilled
with an unknown Presence (B 108).
Anna's attempt to escape to the world represented by
Baron Skrebensky is, however, a failure. In the quoted
paragraph above, we may find the seeds of this failure.
Will Brangwen is only "half-articulate" (R 108 and 109;
Tom, we remember, was "inarticulate"), and "fragmentary";
later he is "vague," "unformed," and "subterranean." Will's
interest in churches is primarily "mystical," and this un-
modern sentiment does not survive Anna's hard, rational
questioning, as the later "Cathedral" chapter emphasizes.
Furthermore, the imagery used to describe Will reveals him
as a basically unconscious being. Like Anna, he is de-
scribed in literally dozens of references as an animal or
as animal-like. Anna is actually first attracted to Will
by his animalistic physicality; like Gertrude Morel, she
is seized by "the running flame" (R 109) of her lover's
sensuous vitality -- by the Female Principle. Perhaps the
abundant animal imagery also prefigures the final, purely
sensual connection on which their marriage rests.
Will is also constantly described as "blind" or as a
"blind animal," and Lawrence seems to mean by this word,
instinctual or unconscious. Will's name is also signifi-
cant here; he is described as "purely a fixed will" (R 123),
and is unchangeable: "He felt he could not alter from what
he was fixed upon, his will was set. To alter it he must
be destroyed" (R 122). The central flaw in Will's charac-
ter is identified by this static fixity: he has "knowledge
and skill without vision." Will is unable to convert ex-
perience into knowledge; he is unable to grow.
Anna, on the other hand, clings to her vision of "the
She was bitter against [her husband],
that he let his mind sleep. .
She, almost against herself, clung to
the worship of the human knowledge. Man
must die in the body, but in his knowledge
he was immortal. . She believed in
the omnipotence of the human mind (R 169).
Anna is ultimately forced to submit, however, to Will's
"corrosion" (R 177, and 178): she accepts a "dark union"
of sensual lust, and retires into a "sleep of motherhood"
(R 205). Anna remains "undeveloped" (R 353), and she
relinquishes her vision of a greater world and becomes "a
breeding animal" (R 353):
She faced the close of the affair, in
which she had not played her fullest
With satisfaction she relinquished the
adventure to the unknown. She was bear-
ing her children. .
If she were not the wayfarer to the un-
known, if she were arrived now, settled in
her builded house, a rich woman, still her
doors opened under the arch of the rainbow,
her threshold reflected the passing of the
sun and the moon, the great travellers, her
house was full of the echo of journeying.
She was a door and a threshold, she her-
self. Through her another soul was coming,
to stand upon her as upon the threshold,
looking out, shading its eyes for the direc-
tion to take (R 193).
The marriage of Will and Anna is not a failure. If
the disappointment of this second generation seems greater
than that of the first, it is because the expectations and
aspirations of the younger couple are also greater. Anna
does live "beyond her parents" (R 126) in Cossethay, one
step nearer the city from the farm. And Will does, at last,
develop "a real purposive self" (R 235) in his dark union
with Anna. (Like her mother, Anna "gives [her husband] to
himself" [R 187].) When a night school and handicraft
classes are started in the town, Will finds it "supremely
desirable" that he himself should teach carpentry and wood-
carving to the village boys: "For the first time, he began
to take a real interest in a public affair" (R 235). This
new-found interest in the affairs of the community, which
Lawrence later says in "Apropos of Lady Chatterley's Lover"
is an essential part of man's being, eventually leads Will
and his family to Beldover, as "Will Brangwen must become
modern" (R 421). The Brangwen family was "in connection
with the great human endeavor at last" (R 236).
Tom Brangwen's granddaughter, Ursula, is the focal
point of the last half of The Rainbow. As is consistent
with the structure of the novel, Ursula's childhood ex-
periences and conflicts echo (almost, at times, to the
point of monotony) those of her mother's childhood.
These early experiences, however, do not shape Ursula's
character so much as does the very fact that she is of the
third generation, -- that the time and family now for
reasons unknown seem ripe for full development. Listening
to her grandmother talk of the past, of Poland and her
coming to Marsh Farm, Ursula feels a sense of personal des-
tiny arising from the past: "Strange, her antecedents were,
and she felt fate on either side of the terrible" (R 257).
Ursula is filled with a strong sense of the past (R 258)
and of her unusual family heritage (R 262), and at an
early age she too feels the confinements her mother had
Even as a girl of twelve she was glad to
burst the narrow bound of Cossethay, where
only limited people lived. Outside, was all
vastness, and a throng of real, proud people
whom she would love (R 262).
In an emblematic scene three quarters through the novel,
Ursula is confronted by two vistas which seem to represent
her alternative routes toward self-fulfillment. Ursula and
her "first love," Baron Skrebensky's son, Anton, are taking
a stroll through Marsh Farm:
The blue way of the canal wound softly
between the autumn hedges. on towards the
greenness of a small hill. On the left
was the whole black agitation of colliery
and railway and the town which rose on its
hill, the church tower topping all. The
round white dot of the clock on the tower
was distinct in the evening light.
That way, Ursula felt, was the way to
London, through the grim, alluring seeth of
the town. On the other hand was the evening,
mellow over the green water-meadows and the
winding alder trees beside the river, and
the pale stretches of stubble beyond. There
the evening glowed softly, and even a pee-
wit was flapping in solitude and peace.
Ursula and Anton Skrebensky walked along
the ridge of the canal between (R 307).
Here again we see the "blood-intimacy" of the rural, "inner
world" contrasted with the outer world of "kings and prin-
ces" or "real, proud people." The country vs. the city,
the Marsh Farm vs. London, and the machine in the garden:
theseh l-v-e been the central conflicts of the-novel from the
first pages, and they are by now quite familiar.
The thing that makes Ursula the central character in
this novel, however, is not that she gains greater under-
standing of both sides of this conflict than any of her an-
cestors (although she does), but that she ultimately re-
jects either of them as viable alternatives. Neither the
one nor the other will do as paths to wholeness of being.
Ursula's rejection of the unconscious, blood-prescient
nature of the Marsh is dramatized by her refusal to marry
Anthony Schofield.11 Anthony, a brother of one of Ursula's
fellow-teachers at the St. Philip's Church School, is a
man in the Walter Morel-Tom Brangwen mode. He is a gardener
with "the eyes of a satyr" (R 413), and he is characterized
as a lusty, passionate animal a dozen times in the four
pages which deal with him. Most poignantly, Anthony is
"like an animal moving in its unawareness," and although
Ursula sees the Schofield farm as "the Garden of Eden,"
she knows she cannot accept the proposal of this unconscious,
albeit physically attractive, farmer:
She turned away, she turned round from him,
and saw the east flushed strangely rose, the
moon coming yellow and lovely upon a rosy sky,
above the darkening bluish snow. All this so
beautiful, all this so lovely! lie did not
see it. He was one with it. But she saw it,
and was one with it. Her seeing separated
They went on in silence down the path, fol-
lowing their different fates (R 417).
Somehow, from her heredity and her education, Ursula has
become a separate, distinct, conscious being, and the
development of her mind has opened an unbridgeable gap be-
tween herself and men like Anthony, or like her grand-
father: "She was a traveller on the face of the earth,
and he was an isolated creature living in the fulfillment
of his own senses" (R 417). It is necessary to note,
however, that in this journey (which Anna had relinquished),
Ursula's consciousness does not prohibit her from estab-
lishing a connection with the natural world: "she was one
with it" also. The added dimension of consciousness in-
creases rather than diminishes the quality of the connec-
Neither is the other apparent alternative, "the way
to London" and the outside world, acceptable to Ursula.
This route toward finding her "maximum self" (R 301) is
finally rejected in Ursula's refusal to marry Anton
Skrebensky, but this rejection begins with her response
to the industrial horrors of Wiggiston. The "way to Lon-
don," as the symbolic landscape makes obvious, is "through
the grim, alluring seethe of the town . the whole black
agitation of colliery and railway," and at Wiggiston Ursula
decides that "her soul's action should be the smashing of
the great machine" (R 349). Ursula's Uncle Tom, the mana-
ger of the new collieries of Wiggiston, becomes an emblem
of evil for Ursula. lie is evil not merely because he is
associated with the dehumanizing effect of industrialism,
but because he capitulates to it: "his only happy moments,
his only moments of pure freedom were when he was serving
the machine" (R 349). The Wiggiston episode clearly points
out that it is not the machine itself that is evil, but
man's attitude toward the machine that reduces him to the
level of an animal. The evil of "the industrial horror"
arises from man's identification of himself with the machine,
and the subordination of his life to it. Tom tells Ursula
of his house-servant's late husband, a collier who has "died
very gradually," and very young:
"Her husband was John Smith, loader. We
reckoned him as a loader, he reckoned himself
as a loader, and so she knew he represented
his job. Marriage and home is a little side-
show" (R 347).13
Ursula's uncle sees men as small machines controlled by the
pit, which takes all of the man "that really matters."
Winifred, Tom's wife-to-be, agrees:
"It is the same everywhere. It is the
office, or the shop, or the business that
gets the man, the woman gets the bit the
shop can't digest. What is he at home, a
man? He is a meaningless lump -- a standing
machine, a machine out of work" (R 348).