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Deja Burgin

The Brangwen wife in D.H. Lawrences novel, The Rainbow can be characterized best
as ignorantly curious. Her ignorance is a direct result of her restrictions from the outer city.
Outside of her life, men roamed with the freedom to enlarge their own scope, while her familys
farm had been the epitome of her life, they faced inwards to the teeming life of creation, which
poured unresolved into their veins. Lawrence utilizes setting, rhetorical comparison, and limited
third person point of view to convey the wifes personality based on her struggle with
confinement.
Beginning the passage is the introduction of the farm setting where the woman resides.
The author describes the farm stating, ..the earth heaved and opened its furrow to them, that
the wind blew to dry wheat, and set the young ears of corn wheeling freshly round about... This
setting produces a lethargic mood, in which life on the farm is boring and dull. The simplicity that
the womans farm life entails evokes her burning curiosity along with her pursuit of the unknown
magic land. Additionally stated is the farms location, Her house faced out from the farmbuildings and fields, looked out to the road and village with church and Hall and the world
beyond...Looking out as she must. She was forced to look outwards and long for the freedom
of others, because the duties on the farm restricted her own freedoms. This view taunted her,
further erupting her curiosity of the world beyond that she desperately wanted to explore.
Lawrence's use of setting here initiates the womans curious ways through her restraints and
fuels her ignorant persona.
Continuing to characterize the woman while she is confined to rural life is the point of
view that the text is written in. Through his limited third person narrative, he reflects the womans
opaque understandings of the world and her feelings. She had envied, what man had done in
fighting outwards to knowledge..how he uttered himself in his conquest.. Lawrence exhibits her
envy along with curiosity when he states, ..being waged on the edge of the unknow. She also
wanted to know and be of the fighting host. Furthermore, while in third person narrative D.H
chooses particular diction to amplify the womans tone on subjects that express her character
and conflict more thoroughly. This is evident in the passage specifically when he describes the
affects farming has on the family. It reads, So much warmth and generating and pain and death
did they know in their blood, earth and sky and beast and green plants, so much exchange and
interchange.. Words and phrases such as pain, blood, and so much exchange create a tone
of passion. The intensity shows the total captivity that the obliged farm life offered, potentially
imprisoning the woman from other ways of life. Lawrence adheres to this when he states, the
women wanted another form of life than this, something that was not blood-intimacy. Moreover,
through the perspective of the woman he expresses a tone of optimism as well when viewing
the outside world. She watches, ..the far off world of cities and governments and the active
scope of man, the magic land to her, where secrets were made known and desires fulfilled.
Magic, active, and fulfilled desires emphasize the hope she holds for the outer city. The use
of tone in this point of view portrays the womans overbearing farm life that makes her remain
ignorant to the world, and even more so curious due to her positive feelings on it.
Another device used to identify the Brangwen wife as both ignorant and curious is
rhetorical comparison. A character from the outside world, the vicar, is being compared to her
husband Tom. Lawrence states, The vicar moved in worlds beyond where her own menfolk;
fresh slow..lacking outwardness and range in motion. The women was aware of the differences

between Tom and the vicar, but is unable to determine what put him above her husband. Like
her curious and ignorant self, she became intrigued and began to question the the vicars
unfamiliar nature. She wanted to know,What was it in the vicar, that raised him above the
common men as man raised above the beasts. This curiosity plagued in her mind and she
began to crave to know. The texts says, She craved to achieve this higher being, if not for
herself, then in her children. Being concealed on a farm from the outside world made her ask
these questions in which she came upon her own conclusion, she decided it was a question of
knowledge. Based on her lack of understand to what supported the vicars great nature, her
personality of curiousness and ignorance persisted.
In conclusion, the Brangwen wife was able to be identified through her confining farm life
with the use of various literary devices. D.H. lawrence utilized setting, comparison, and point of
view to best characterize who she was. Each device contributed to the woman's true personality
as being ignorant and curious.