Women In Love Summary

D. H. Lawrence

Women In Love

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Women In Love Summary

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Women In Love is a novel by D.H. Lawrence, first published in 1920. It is the sequel to his novel The Rainbow and continues the story of the Brangwen sisters, Ursula and Gudrun. Both girls are in love, but in vastly different types of relationships. Lawrence pursues the consequences of these relationships over the course of WWI, and the novelends in the Tyrolean Alps.

Ursula and Gudrun live in the Midlands region of England in 1910. Ursula, a teacher, pursues a relationship with a man named Rupert, who is a school inspector. Gudrun seeks a relationship with Gerald, the heir to a coal mine.

Both women, and the novel more generally, are concerned with questions of social class, politics, and the relationships between men and women. Gudrun and Gerald compete with each other, both trying to gain the upper hand and ultimately causing lots of strife in their relationship. Gerald having immersed himself in the machinery of the coal business looks for someone to reignite his humanity and feels he has found this spark in Gudrun.

Rupert feels that he knows what he wants in a woman. He wants absolute trust so that he and his partner can remain true to themselves. He finds love to be an abstract devotion to the universe through another person, and when Ursula asks him to tell her one simple thing, he reveals that he loves her. She understands what he means, but this seems to satisfy her.

The two couples decide to travel to the Swiss Alps. Both Ursula and Rupert have given up their jobs and are hoping to find a home more suitable to fostering their ideas of what a relationship is. Gerald and Gudrun are delving further into their opposition to each other. Gudrun befriends a homosexual man, Loerke, who is an artist. He has a darkly sarcastic sense of humor, and he comments on everyone’s character.

One night, Gerald finally tires of Loerke’s snark and strikes him. He then tries to strangle Gudrun and realizes that killing her would be the act that fulfills him and brings him round to his full humanity. Loerke comes to and makes another sarcastic comment. Gerald realizes the futility of his actions. He walks out into the blizzard and freezes to death.

Ursula and Rupert return to find their friend dead. Rupert is devastated, as he and Gerald experienced a profound attraction towards one another.  Rupert,with his philosophical view of relationships, felt that he could practically be married to his friend. However, Ursula convinces him that one marriage is enough and that she can provide everything Rupert is looking for.

Ursula continues to believe that she has found true love in Rupert, a person who will complete her. Gudrun, on the other hand, has lost faith in the idea that love can be fulfilling.

The characters in the novel test the expectations of society at that time. The two women are not upper class, but they are fierce and independent. They do not wish to marry as their parents did and find the institution stifling. Gerald and Rupert are their superiors, in class terms, but both are drawn to the sisters and attempt to pursue nontraditional marriages with them.

Rupert and Gerald differ in their views on the hyper-productivity of the modern age. Rupert believes that work will not save humanity, and he despairs of the way that humans have increased labor and productivity as a means of fulfillment and success. He believes that people must dissolve their current belief systems to emerge new and stronger, with more ecstatic lives. Gerald, on the other hand, believes that mastering productivity and technology will allow humankind to conquer nature finally.

Lawrence heavily draws on the idea of the triangle of desire. Humans see other peoples’desire, and this initiates a similar feeling in themselves. Gerald desires Gudrun, and in response, Rupert finds himself drawn to Gerald. He is so attracted that he hesitates to marry Ursula, because he doesn’t want to separate himself from Gerald. Loerke, Gudrun, and Gerald form another triangle, the dynamics of which spark Gerald’s attack and ultimately his death.

Rupert philosophizes a lot about the relationships between men and women, and the relationship humankind has with traditional morals and nature. He believes in the decay of traditional modes of thinking, and hopes that leaving England will allow him to find a place that better suits his beliefs about creative life and destruction. He compares leaving England to flies leaving a corpse, as if he believes that their trip will save them from the inherent decay of English society.

Lawrence’s novel was controversial in its time, because of its portrayal of sexual relationships and the characters of the women in the story. It remains a fascinating look into Lawrence’s beliefs, and it’s thought that the character of Rupert is modeled after Lawrence, and the character of Ursula is modeled on Lawrence’s wife.