D.H. Lawrence's The Rainbow: Summary & Concept

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  • 0:00 Background to ''The Rainbow''
  • 0:30 Plot Summary to ''The…
  • 2:31 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Shamekia Thomas

Shamekia has taught English at the secondary level and has her doctoral degree in clinical psychology.

''The Rainbow'' is a controversial novel written by British author D.H. Lawrence during the early 1900s. It tells the story of three generations of the Brangwen family. Learn more about ''The Rainbow'' and then test your knowledge with a quiz.

Background to The Rainbow

The Rainbow is a novel written by British author D.H. Lawrence. It is a controversial novel and was banned in Great Britain because of the sexual nature of its content. The novel tells the story of three generations of the Brangwens, a working class family trying to make sense of their lives in British society. Most of the novel focuses on the differences between men and women, sexually and in marriage, and the contention that can take place in male and female relationships.

Plot Summary to The Rainbow

The Rainbow opens with Tom Brangwen marrying Lydia Lensky, a Polish woman, because he loves her and wants to be a father to her child. Tom's marriage to Lydia is often strained and eventually breaks down, but Tom is very close to his wife's daughter Anna, and they have a very good relationship. Anna marries Tom's distant cousin Will when she grows older. Their marriage vacillates between periods of passion and love and contention and strife. Anna and Will have several children, but their marriage fails after a short time.

Will and Anna's daughter Ursula is the main character in the second half of the novel. Ursula's childhood and adult life is described in detail. When she grows older, Ursula is an intelligent and independent woman who works as a schoolteacher. She has many relationships and explores her independence, and even dates a woman at one point. She enters a relationship with a soldier, Anton Skrebensky, but is not satisfied with their relationship.

After dating for some time, Skrebensky asks Ursula to marry him, but she turns him down by saying she has never wanted to get married. Skrebensky is very hurt by Ursula's actions and ends their relationship. Ursula does not want to get married because she thinks marriage would cause her to lose her freedom and independence as a woman. Ursula struggles with her role as a woman in British society.

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