Women in Love is a novel about two young ladies, the Brangwen sisters, Urusula and Gudrun and how they fall in love and lead two completely different relationships with the men they meet, Rupert Birkin and Gerald Crich, with who they gradually fall in love.
Birkin, a school inspector, visits Ursula who teaches at the school however Hermione, the woman previously involved with Birkin, intrudes on their conversation and invites Ursula and Gudrun to stay with her in Breadalby. Ursula and Gudrun travel to Breadalby to stay with Hermione where Gerald officially meets the two. He saw them again, while they were at home waiting for the train to pass. This sets an awful impression of Gerald to the sisters as he was torturing a horse, training her to withstand the fear. The Brangwen sisters then see Gerald again, whilst sketching along side Wiley Water. He was with Hermione who caused commotion between Gudrun and Gerald after dropping her sketchbook in the water.
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In the meantime, Ursula had wandered off towards the hill where she met Birkin “sawing and hammering away.” This was the first sign of a relationship between the two and he eventually sent a note to invite the sisters to tea. Feeling desire for Birkin to speak only to her, she didn’t tell Gudrun about the invite where they discuss the concepts of love and their feelings.
The couple met again at Mr. Crich’s annual water-party on the lake. Gerald organises a small boat for Gudrun and Ursula who row to a little stream. After hours on end, the men arrive in worry. The four begin to row back to the estate but Gerald’s sister, Diana, drowns causing grief for the Crich’s. Gudrun then becomes the teacher of Gerald’s youngest sister, Winifred. There relationship was a tight bond and soon she moves into a studio which was built for the two girls.
After many thought and consideration, Birkin visits the Brangwens to ask for Ursula’s hand in marriage however Birkin left without an answer. Enraged, he walks to Shortlands where he finds Gerald. Ursula then meets with Hermione who belittles Birkin and encourages Ursula not to marry him. Birkin then buys Ursula three rings which leads her to agreeing to marriage.
Mr. Crich sadly then passes away and after the funeral, in devastation Gerald spends the night with Gudrun. Gerald then thinks about marrying Gudrun and he suggests for the four to travel to the Tyrol although Birkin and Ursula left early to Verona. Gerald is infuriated by Gudrun’s verbal abuse and her refusal of his manhood as well as Loerke who Gudrun begins a friendship with. On the slopes, Gerald strangles Gudrun yet let go when Loerke called for him. Gerald continued up the slope but he slipped and fell and “immediately went to sleep.” His body was returned to England to be buried, together with Ursula and Birkin. Gudrun went to Dresden to visit Loerke. The impact of Gerald’s death on Birkin was inevitable, he loved him just as much as he loved Urusla however Ursula could not understand this.
This novel is written in third person singular with an omniscient style. “It pleased Ursula, what he said, pleased her very much. She herself knew too well the actuality of humanity, its hideous actually.” The pronouns ‘he’ and ‘she’ are frequently used and characters are continuously addressed by their names.
Ursula: is an independent, strong-willed lady who doesn’t enjoy being told what to do. She likes to make her own decisions, no matter what the situation. This is shown through the conversation held between, herself, her father and Birkin when he proposes to her; “‘You both want me to force me into something’ ‘That is an illusion of your own’.” She also needs certainty to make those decisions which is shown through her constant questioning of if Birkin loves her. She is reliable for Birkin as she devotes her everything to him however she seems to misunderstand the importance of a relationship between the men and seems she is jealous that Birkin doesn’t only need her.
Gudrun: is a very kind and compassionate woman as she takes the time and effort to sit with Winifred and paint. Her loving character is shown when she feels uneasy about telling Winifred that her dad will die when asked what she thinks. She isn’t a trustworthy person as she leaves Gerald for Loerke in the Alps and feels what Gerald and she had, was over although Gerald didn’t feel this way.
Birkin: has an aspect of a true gentleman. This is shown through his love and devotion to Ursula because he states that he doesn’t want to serve him; “I who am at the beck and call of the woman, than she at mine.” His love for Ursula and Gerald also shows that he can maintain love with romance and love with friendship; “eternal union with a man too: another kind of love.”
Gerald: is a determined man as he has hope that his sister was still alive when he tries to save her and he never gives up. These experiences made Gerald the strong, determined man he was, as he had suffered of loss of those close to him. However he is not independent as when his father passes away he finds himself at the graveyard then walks to Gudrun’s house seeking comfort and affection. Gerald is also a proud character as he is proud of his estate that his father owns and doesn’t let the past affect his present.
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Language & Diction
Women in Love is a very descriptive novel that uses both short and long sentences. The language is highly developed and long sentences are used to describe feelings and objects, for example; “And Gerald, watching, saw the amazing attractive goodliness of his eyes, a young, spontaneous goodness that attracted the other man infinitely, yet filled him with bitter chagrin, because he mistrusted it so much”. Short sentences are used more often during dialogue such as; “I see,” and “I must remember another time”. In this novel the author also uses similes for instance; “The mare rebounded like a drop of water from hot iron” and “Yet he seemed as calm as a ray of cold sunshine”. There are also French and German phrases during dialogue for example; “Ist er auch ein Wunder?” and “Qu’est ce qu’un chancelier?”.
The imagery is evident throughout the novel because all stimuli are aroused. Tactile imagery is evident when Ursula and Birkin have admitted their love for one another; “She cleaved to him, and he could feel his blood changing like quicksilver.” One can imagine how faster his blood was pumping now that Ursula lay closer towards him. Taste and sense of smell are linked with the description of the meal provided; “venison pasty, a large broad-faced cut ham, eggs and cresses”. Visual imagery is foreseen throughout the novel when the statuette is explain; ‘it was a woman, with hair dressed high, like a melon-shaped dome â€¦ with such protuberant buttocks, so weighty and unexpected below her slim long loins.” Auditory imagery is evident when Gerald’s voice startles Gudrun for example; “The timbre of his voice, like something vibrating at a high pitch, unnerved Gudrun.”
Marriage is a theme shown through Ursula and Gudrun when it is first mentioned at the beginning of the novel. This theme is revealed throughout the novel as their relationships continue to build which gradually leads to a proposal by Birkin to Ursula. A theme of religion is also apparent throughout the novel by Mr. Crich as he is related to God often and speaks of being a Christian. Another theme present is individual versus society as Ursula, Gudrun, Birkin and Gerald are often deeply concerned with the questions of society and the relationships between men and women. This theme is shown through Birkin and Ursula’s conversation how one must devote themselves to one another as Birkin believes love can reach further and past heaven.
This novel is set in England, this is evident because of the places mentioned such as London, Oxford, Beldover and Piccadilly Circus. It is also represented throughout the relation to the currency for example; “Three-ha’pence,” “pennies” and “Hundreds of pounds.” The setting is also shown through certain objects such as “The Daily Telegraph,” a popular newspaper in England as well as “lawn” rather than garden.
The genre is romance as love is such a deep and dominant theme throughout the novel. The genre starts with the when Gudrun and Ursula Brangwen discuss their feelings towards marriage. It is encouraged throughout the novel by Gudrun and Gerald falling in love and Ursula and Birkin getting married. It is also shown through Birkin and Gerald’s friendship as Birkin finds their friendship the perfect relationship with a man.
Aspects I liked
I enjoyed the fact that Mr. Crich had such a strong will to stay alive, he made time and effort for the ones he loved dearly such as his daughter Winifred. He also said to Winifred that he was better whenever he asked, meanwhile they both knew the truth. However I didn’t emjoy the fact that Hermione belittled Birkin whilst talking to Ursula, she encourages Ursula not to marry Birkin because of her jealousy over their relationship. Hermoine wanted with Birkin what Urusla has and she belittles Birkin to alter Ursula’s feelings but Ursula ignores Hermoine’s comments and continues to feel the love she has for Birkin.
I would recommend this novel to one who enjoys an emotional relationship which encounters tension commonly because of ‘love’ and the meaning it implies. I would also recommend this novel to one who shares a relationship with God as one of the characters shares a strong relationship with God; “He wanted to be a pure Christian, one and equal with all men. He even wanted to give away all he had, to the poor.” Throughout the novel, God is often referred to which is why I would recommend this novel to a Christian. I would recommend this novel to a person who enjoys strong willed characters who are strained with their sensitivity.
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