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Tom and Lydia Brangwen

Tom and Lydia Brangwen is the first generation presented in the novel. Tom Brangwen,
the youngest son of Brangwen family is a farmer who is full of "inarticulate, powerful
religious impulses”. He finds fulfillment in the relationship with Lydia Lensky, the Polish
exiled in England, because he feels the attraction of strangeness and mystery in her. The
author describes the feeling of Tom when he met Lydia: “It was as if a strong light were
burning there, and he was blind within it, unable to know anything, except that this
transfiguration burned between him and her, connecting them, like a secret power”.
The darkness of her soul seems to complete the desolation of his own. Their attraction
is somewhat intuitive. Lydia is a foreigner, coming from an unknown country, with a
mysterious dark past for which she still suffers. Tom discovers the possibility of a
relationship that is beyond the physical contact, in the realm of feeling, of affection.
Tom uses Lydia’s “otherness” as a foreigner to secure his own sense of reality and give
himself identity. Tom and Lydia’s marriage initially problematizes the synthesis between
themselves and between Law and Love. In an argument, Lydia declares to Tom, “You
come to me as if it were for nothing, as if I was nothing there,” to which he replies, “You
make me feel as if I was nothing” . Instead of becoming whole, both Tom and Lydia are
desolated by the physical proximity of each other. Their marriage, while loving, is
characterized by a vague emotional detachment, punctuated by moments of fervent
passion. In the end we can observe that Tom is heavily influenced by women. Probably
the first major event is when Tom is seduced by a prostitute. This event changes his
perspective over women, the only women he knew before being his mother and the
The second time he has an eye opening event is when he has an affair with a woman
that was neglected by her husband, an aristocrat. This affair gives him the opportunity
to see a different world than his.
So the adventures he had before, helped him to find and recognize the perfect woman,
Lydia. That’s why when Tom saw Lydia for the first time he said “That’s her!”

Anna and Will Brangwen
Anna, Lydia’s daughter from her first marriage, is a more curious, self-conscious
being than her mother. She is "only half safe within her mother's unthinking
knowledge". Anna Lensky grows up, falls in love and marries Tom’s nephew, Will
Brangwen. This next generation also experiences a stormy relationship during the
early years of marriage. Will bombards Anna with his own will and she feels her
own subjectivity negated and denied.
Anna and Will come to depend on each other in much the same way that Tom
and Lydia depends on each other and fear each other’s absence. “If he should
leave her? That would destroy her!”
Anna was not afraid of her own being, she was only afraid of all that was not
herself. She embodies the principle of Law, the principle of the inert. Her
relationship with Will who embodies the principle of Love, of movement, makes
her instable.

Ursula and Anton Skrebensky
Ursula belongs to the third Brangwen generation. Like her father and great-uncle,
she has religious impulses and little time for the literalism of Christianity. She is
curious, rational, sceptical, proud and powerful.
Unlike her mother or grandmother, she is not content with motherhood and
wifehood, and must live out the new, modern, female question: "Whither to go,
how to become oneself?" Ursula is representative of the adolescent striking out
on her own. She falls in love with Anton Skrebensky, a lieutenant in the army but
she refuses to marry him.
Ursula’s ability to break away from Skrebensky rather than allow herself to make
the same mistakes as her parents and grandparents signifies the individual
emancipating herself from her parents, her past, her society. Unlike her parents,
Ursula overcomes the need to merge with another person, and instead she
achieves integrity.