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The relationship between Ursula and Anton in 'The Rainbow'

This essay shows the difficulties in a love based only on physical attraction and nothing else.

Written by: Sarah Tracy

To find out what aspects, both positive and negative, are conveyed in the relationship between Ursula and Anton one must first look at them individually. This will show exactly the kind of chemistry produced when the are united as one. The main fault with these two characters is that the could not be reconciled with one another, their characters being so completely different, ?Each was separate?they did not merge?.

Ursula is a lost soul, a free spirit wandering around trying to find a meaning in life. She is essentially a risk taker and a loner, always rejecting the secure, ordinary world for the more exciting, mystical unknown, She is a determined woman and attacks everything with fervour, especially in striving to be totally free from the everyday aspects of this world. Ursula is hunting for her own identity and her own beliefs but she is also her own enemy, ?and she was the quarry, and she was also the hound?.

Ursula has a sensitive idealistic nature and is always searching for perfection in herself and others. Her one true aspiration is to actualise her true self, ?to be oneself was a supreme, gleaming triumph of infinity?.

She is portrayed as a sleeping beauty awaiting her prince, a vision which leaves one doubtful of her finding fulfilment in realistic terms, ?so she wrestled through her dark days of confusion, soulless, uncreated, unformed?.

Anton is also a wanderer but not in same way as Ursula. He has no real connection in society, no roots, and only travels in socially accepted patterns; South Africa and India. He accepts his role in society and never challenges the given order of things. He is not the type to question himself or his motives, therefore he is confident . As long as society accepts him he feels complete. He is only concerned with everyday routine matters and becomes deeply disturbed when he is challenged about their authenticity or meaning. He has no depth, ?no soul?, a superficial man playing with the idea of love but never actually feeling the sensitivity and profoundness of it. He was finite, ?he was always side-tracking??his own soul?, ?he did not consider the soul of the individual sufficiently important. He believed a man was important in so far as he represented all humanity?, ?he was just a brick in the whole great social fabric?.

The first sign of predestined failure is in the words, ?they were playing with fire, not with love?. Theirs is a physical relationship. ?she loved him?.the body of him?though her heart and soul must be imprisoned and silenced?. Anton?s physique drew her to him like a magnet. She could not resist his body. She was like a flower always waiting for the bee, but this bee had a sting which stunned and deadened her soul. It imprisoned her and weighed her down. She could not be free of this weakening desire.

This vacuum within Ursula, this nullity she felt for Anton was evident to him, he sensed it. He felt left out when he was with her as if he was actually alone and only when she decided to melt the barrier between them could he share her company. Anton knew that she could not be ruled by him and so he yielded to her losing his own identity in the process, ?his triumphant??heart of the intrinsic male would never beat again??she had broken him?.

When Strebensky goes away, Ursula just like a young girl who has tasted her first morsel of love, turns him into a fantasy. She is in love with the idea of romance and plays at the game for her own amusement. She is infatuated by it, ?her face was covered with tears?.yet her heart was not crying - it was cold and earthy?, ?he had become a visionary thing of her own?, ?who was he, and where did he exist? In her own desire only?.

Anton is an outlet for Ursula?s dreaming nature and in her blind passion for him she does not see how this passion will eventually stultify and torment her. Her love for nature and the more passionate things in life will in the end become like a prison for her, ?her sexual life flamed into a kind of disease within her?.

Anton is aware that he could never truly own Ursula but is glad to bathe in the warmth and richness of her nature as long as she allows him to. The sheer intensity of her passion frightens him yet draws him to her. He knows he will be discarded by her when she has finished with this body and this destroys him. There is only the shell left, ?he felt himself a mere attribute to her?.

Because of their limited feelings for one another the first seed of decay is when Ursula heart and soul cry out to be fulfilled despite her body being satisfied, but Anton cannot provide what this entails. With every contact he becomes almost fanatical but he also fears her body which seems to be slowly drawing life?s blood from his veins, like a vampire preying upon a victim, ?he was afraid. His will was always tense and fixed?, ?it all contained a germ of death?.

Instead of merging, these two opposites begin to repel each other, gradually tearing away, leaving two bruised , pain-ridden individuals. This is the realisation between the two, the hopelessness of their relationship finally dawns on them and each deal with it in their own way.

Anton, when he realises that Ursula is forbidden fruit, feels dead inside. She has become larger that life to him, ?he felt as if the ordeal of proof was upon him, for life or death?, ?his will was broken., he was seared, but clung to the life of his body?. His superficiality is shown completely by his final move. He turns to the Colonel?s daughter to protect him from the dark intensity of Ursula. It is a socially accepted marriage and suits his purpose in his everyday routine life. Evading his soul he returns to his duties quite happily.

Ursula tries to do the same thing but her sexuality will not let her, his body is still calling to her. She finds she is pregnant and this helps her to make up her mind that maybe he is the one for her. She writes to him and wants an answer immediately, whilst the passion is still aflame, but this does not happen. She goes for a walk trying to calm these passions and the incident with the horses happens. She is strangely drawn to them yet knows that they will crush her. The horses represent her sexuality. She is drawn to Anton by her desire but knows that if she goes to him the ultimate feeling will be the crushing of her heart and soul through unfulfilment. She manages to drag herself away in a feverish frenzy back to the cottage.

She loses the child and then hears from Anton that he has married. She feels that she has made the right decision and looks out of her window at the rainbow. She finds hope in the new day. It?s a new beginning and she can face the world with a more enlightened soul. She has become a woman by facing her experience with a sensible and individual spirit. . She fought for her existence, her true self and faced reality. Only now could she be at peace with herself. And her body would, ?issue to a new germination, to a new growth, rising to the light and the wind and the clean rain of heaven?.

We learn from this relationship that physical passion is not enough, there must be love to help it grow into a fruitful and fulfilling union. Theirs was like a barren plant which struggled to stay alive but eventually without food to grow it withered and died.

Both Anton and Ursula wanted power over each other. Anton hoped that she would fail so that , ?she would be more glad of him?, and Ursula constantly destroyed what he believed in. If they had truly loved one another they would have nurtured and encouraged each other helping them to become a stronger union, a more fruitful sanctity. Their need to control each other just weakened it.

Lawrence cannot give the reader a happy ending with Ursula?s character because with a personality so profound and complex there can be no easy solution to her fulfilment in life. He portrays life itself in this relationship and the ecstasy, the misery and the conflict inherent in the deep relationships between men and women, but al the rainbow suggests, there is always hope.


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