42 pages 1 hour read

D. H. Lawrence

The Rainbow

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 1915

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Character Analysis

Tom Brangwen

As the novel’s first protagonist, Tom sets the tone for later generations. He is highly sensitive, but he is also stubborn and often struggles to control his temper. After seeing an attractive woman with her foreign husband, Tom begins drinking heavily to recapture the “glow” he felt while admiring the couple. Tom has difficulties connecting with his wife, Lydia. Although he loves her, he struggles to overcome his binary view of women as being categorized and defined by their sexual availability and what that availability implies about their morality. Tom also feels he and Lydia are too different to really connect, and after a heated argument in which she accuses him of having an affair, they realize they made each other feel unloved and unwanted. Tom makes substantial efforts to bond with his stepdaughter, Anna, and although she is still a child, she sometimes ends up doing tremendous emotional labor for Tom as he moves from one existential crisis to another. Tom generally feels inadequate compared to “cultured” people like his brother Alfred, but he brings much prosperity to his family and ensures that future generations can live secure, comfortable lives. Tom’s struggles to remain connected to his religious beliefs introduce the conflict between faith and modernity that each generation in the novel confronts.