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Written by Timothy Sexton
Rage Against the Machine
The times are changing for extended members of the Brangwen clan. The canal cut into the their property to connect the collieries is a symbolic slashing of tradition and convention. The days of bucolic individuality are about disappear as the Industrial Age makes its way out of the cities and into the gentry. The factory is an appropriate metaphor for what amounts to a wholesale change in society seeking to transform the individual into the collective. This machinery of homogenization extends from the collieries to the school where Ursual unhappily teaches to the formulated geometrical layout of the industrial towns growing up to give the colliery workers a place to live; a place that feels the regimented order of the workplace. The Brangwens rebel in general, but Ursula’s rage is expressed the most fervently.
Rage Against Victorianism
After receiving a complaint from a reader, a warrant was issued under England’s laws against obscenity and The Rainbow was banned in 1915 with an additional order to seize copies still in the hands of the publisher. This was after the original submitted manuscript had already been censored by the publisher. Ultimately, at least 1,000 copies of the book were destroyed and when published in the U.S., the book had absent thirteen passages which had been deleted without permission of Lawrence. Lawrence was notorious for pushing the boundaries of sexuality in all his novels and though by today’s standards those thirteen passages would not even raise an eyebrow, just the mere indication of a lesbian affair between two of the characters was enough to guarantee that objections would inevitably be raised against the novel. The open sexuality was hardly an attempt by Lawrence to be controversial for its own sake, however; The Rainbow is just one example of Lawrence continually pushing hard against the prudish literary output that defined the Victorian Era and its immediate aftermath.
Rage Against the Patriachy
Ursula is the character that would in most novels do the things that a man would do in order to become the central protagonist. Ursula pushes back against an education system designed to create compartmentalized little robots and she pushes back against sexual expectations by having a sexual relationship with another woman and by exhibiting an unwillingness to bow down to patriarchal expectations of her place in the world by the army officer with whom she falls in love. The titular rainbow is the symbolic expression of Ursula’s utopian dream for a better world that is more equitable toward gender differences in the future. Though Ursula is the type of character who would in most other novels would be a man, however, she is not merely a feminine transference of male qualities. She remains true to her sex even while battling against that very expectation of discrimination.
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