Throughout history, there has always existed a battle of power and dominance in between man and woman. Though women were seen as physically weak, as time progressed towards the 19th century, women began to crave and yearn to learn more about not only the present but also the possibilities of the future. In The Rainbow by D.H. Lawrence, Lawrence states that though women, like those from the Brangwens family, are physically less capable than men, that because of the woman’s desire to learn more and to progress to a better and greater life. While the men stay stagnant and accept their life without attempting to progress; that the woman is more powerful due to her knowledge and longing for it even though she is physically limited from doing so because of man. Lawrence was able to convey this characterization through the use of diction, symbolism, and imagery.
The feeling Lawrence created in the paragraphs expressed the significance of both man and woman and how each varied in power and ambition. In the first paragraph, the audience sense a feeling of tranquility and serenity within the man from the Brangwens family due to his compliance and desire to not develop further in life. When the man feels the “warmth” and is “dazed” by the wonders of his life currently, he is gratified and does not yearn to progress. Yet in the second paragraph, Lawrence again utilizes diction to portray how the woman of the Brangwens felt inhibited; that she desire to be able to grow and possess more knowledge about the possibilities of humanity, which then creates a feeling that although is more unstable than that of man, feels more energized, vivid, and full of life. Woman wanted to experience the “world beyond” and to “set out” and “to enlarge [her] own scope” and discover all the little details that life and nature holds.
Furthermore, Lawrence was able to create a contrast in between the man and woman of the Brangwens and how in reality man is physically more powerful than woman, but due to the woman’s ambition to conquer and obtain more material and to ameliorate, the woman has control over the man – specifically his “soul”. By utilizing a house to compare the difference between the man, who stood in the backyard, and the woman who stood in the front of the house, there is an implication created that gave more depth to the characterization of the woman and further painted her situation. The backyard is usually enclosed by a fence and so if one were to stand there, he or she would have an inhibited vision of not only the world but also of the future possibilities the world held; In comparison, a person who stood at the front would see the rest of the world and what it had, the potential opportunities that would allow one to move forward in life and improve oneself. And so by having the man stand and look at the world from the back and having the woman at the front further emphasizes the woman’s control over the man with her ability and desire to look forward and to explore future chances of progression and improvement.
In order to create more emphasis on the woman’s power over man, Lawrence employed certain imagery that gives ease to the reader in understanding and perhaps agreeeing with Lawrence’s characterization of the Brangwen woman. Through illustrating a scene in which a bull is controlled by man even if it is physically more powerful, Lawrence convinces the audience to fathom the power Brangwen woman had over man. In addition with an imaginary setting where Brangwen man and woman were alone on a desert island, that man would be subservient to the woman and that she would have his “soul”. Because of her longing of the future and the knowledge it holds, the woman has power over the man who remains stagnant and with no desire in future opportunities.
Therefore D.H. Lawrence in The Rainbow, was able to convey how although woman of Brangwens may be physically weak and limited by the man, that she still had power and control over him; Lawrence was able to portray this belief through diction, symbolism, and imagery.
How would you believe Lawrence is trying to characterize in this woman and capture her situation? Is it involved with the time The Rainbow was written, and did it have any significant effect on what is conveyed to the audience?
What do you think?