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Women in Love

Study Guide by Course Hero

What's Inside Women in Love is narrated in the past tense.


j Book Basics ................................................................................................. 1 The title Women in Love is deliberately misleading; the
relationships between the two main characters and the men
d In Context ..................................................................................................... 1 they love are characterized by hatred, anxiety, despair, and
violence. The characters struggle to redefine not only love and
a Author Biography ..................................................................................... 5
relationships but their identities, their understanding of society,
h Characters .................................................................................................. 6 and the meaning of life itself.

k Plot Summary ............................................................................................ 11

c Chapter Summaries ............................................................................. 20

d In Context
g Quotes ........................................................................................................ 55

l Symbols ..................................................................................................... 58
Genre and Style of Women in
m Themes ...................................................................................................... 60
e Suggested Reading .............................................................................. 62
D.H. Lawrence was a literary innovator. His reconfiguration of
traditional conventions of genre and style is reflected in the
structure, technique, and subject matter in Women in Love.
j Book Basics
AUTHOR The Novel of Marriage
D.H. Lawrence
The plot of Women in Love concerns the courtships and
YEAR PUBLISHED resultant marriages or partnerships of two couples. This
1920 approach places the text in a literary tradition where the
movement toward marriage guides the plot. This design is
GENRE evident in the works of writers such as English playwright
Fiction William Shakespeare (1564–1616), who portrayed courtship
and marriage in a conventional manner based on class and
romantic love. The traditional courtship or marriage plot was
Women in Love is narrated by a third-person omniscient
further developed in the 18th- and 19th-century novels of
narrator. In addition to revealing the perspectives and thoughts
English writers such as Jane Austen (1775–1817), who departed
of various characters, the narrator reveals bias by presenting
from convention by considering economic and social issues as
judgments and claiming insight into characters and situations.
factors that influenced courtship and marriage.
Women in Love Study Guide In Context 2

Lawrence further develops the courtship or marriage plot as awareness and were expressed in terms of behaviors or
the characters of Women in Love reject the idea of traditional convictions that seemed to have little explanation or sense.
marriage entirely. They consider the problem of relationships
from a philosophical rather than practical point of view. He By allowing his characters' subconscious to play parts in the

undermines the marriage-plot tradition through his portrayal of novel's plot, Lawrence introduces a symbolic structure to the

the relationship between Gerald Crich and Rupert Birkin. He novel. This is a departure from the cause-and-effect structure

also elevates the idea of a homosexual romance to the same of realist works. The movement from the Midlands of England

level as heterosexual romance. Lawrence's subversive to the Austrian mountains is realistic but ultimately controlled

treatment of courtship and romance in the novel are part of his by the symbolism of the white, northern "ice-destruction." This

overarching theme. He aims not merely to critique society but is associated with Gerald Crich's character and by Crich's

to suggest society is so rotten it ought to be discarded and inescapable tie with death, which Lawrence suggests drives

reinvented entirely. much of Crich's behavior, including his eventual seeking of

death in the icy mountains of Austria. The idea humans
possess a drive to live and love, as well as an associated drive
Realism and Symbolism toward death, has its roots in Greek mythology, which
personified the love instinct in the goddess Eros and the death
Lawrence's work shares characteristics with the realism of instinct in the god Thanatos. Before Freud embraced this idea
19th-century authors such as Russian writer Leo Tolstoy. Their as significant to human psychology in his 1920 essay "Beyond
goal was the accurate portrayal of reality. The plot and the Pleasure Principle," the concept appeared in the works of
premises of Women in Love keep with the style of realism. many philosophers and poets with which Lawrence would have
They are grounded in actual historical and social context and been familiar.
do not require the reader to suspend disbelief.

However, Lawrence departs from the conventions of realism Modernism

by infusing these realistic elements with complicated symbolic
meaning. He also portrays characters as unstable rather than These and other innovations reflect the fact Women in Love is
fixed. Situated in the real world, the characters respond not a work of modernist literature. Modernism refers to a cultural,
just to external conditions but also to motivations, feelings, and artistic, and literary movement that occurred in Europe during
experiences rooted in their subconscious. In Chapter 8 Rupert the first three decades of the 20th century. Artistic expression
Birkin describes how drawing a picture of geese helps him took on new forms as a result of modernism's foundational
experience at a visceral level what it is like to be a goose. The principle European civilization needed reinventing, having
idea Rupert has access to a kind of knowledge she is degraded morally, spiritually, and culturally. Rapid technological
incapable of because it transcends intellectual comprehension innovation and the reorganization of society to fit the needs of
is so threatening to Hermione Roddice, who lives entirely in her industrial efficiency, along with the rejection of God as the
intellect, she undergoes a kind of break with normal reality: source of meaning, had destabilized the ideological
"She strayed out, pallid and preyed-upon like a ghost, like one foundations of society and made cultural and artistic norms
attacked by the tomb-influences which dog us." seem like superficial pretenses that were largely meaningless.
Modernist writers such as Lawrence expressed this sense of
The emphasis on the subconscious points to the influence of degradation in their work. They made it their project to find and
the Austrian psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud (1856–1939). He express a new way of being that was not corrupt and
popularized the idea much of human behavior was the result of inauthentic. In his foreword to Women in Love, Lawrence
processes and perceptions that existed below the level of explicitly states the novel is the record of his own attempt to
conscious awareness. To put this in other terms, human come to such an understanding.
behavior is the symbolic representation of deeper, hidden
causes that cannot be directly understood through external In Women in Love Rupert Birkin is the character who most
observations. In a Freudian light, symptoms of mental illness as closely embodies the modernist agenda. Rupert rejects
well as other tendencies in thought and action could be authority and tradition. He attempts to forge a new
explained by forces that existed below the level of conscious understanding of the world and to spread that new

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Women in Love Study Guide In Context 3

understanding among the people close to him. However, institutions and the old landholding aristocracy—represented in
Rupert is plagued by anxiety, a sense of meaninglessness, fear, Lawrence's novel by Hermione Roddice—to the new captains
and hatred—internal states all four of the novel's protagonists of industry and business. By the early 20th century, the
experience. Lawrence connects these emotional states and unprecedented ability of humans to manipulate the
the actions that arise from them as responses to the environment had given rise to a new type of person. This
conditions of British society around the time of World War I modern individual was concerned with personal agency, or
(1914–18). The aristocratic landowning class that had power, rather than conformity to traditional social or religious
controlled the economy as well as cultural norms had suffered norms. The four protagonists in Women in Love are all
a loss of power, both economic and cultural, as a result of examples of modern personhood.
industrialization coupled with an agricultural depression.
Society was deeply divided between the dying class of the The difference between modern and traditional individuals is

agricultural elite, who attempted to maintain their position by illustrated in the novel by Thomas Crich and his son Gerald.

clinging to old ideas, and the mass of the working poor, who Thomas Crich's capitalism is secondary to his religiously

suffered awful labor conditions and shocking poverty in the centered concern for the humanity and dignity of his workers.

new industrial workplaces. Meanwhile, the reorganization of Gerald rejects this concern and makes efficiency his sole

imperial power in Europe and the subsequent rise of guiding value. Gerald views his mining operation as a machine.

nationalism had created a precarious political situation that Because it is his personal will that ensures the smooth

threatened to plunge the world into a war that would no doubt operation of the machine, he views himself as its god. The

set a new standard of horror thanks to the availability of new workers who are under him are not individuals with human

technologies. The characters' various reactions to the social dignity. They are parts in a machine that depends on human

and internal crisis illustrate the complexity and difficulty of the efficiency for its worth. In this way the new industrial capitalism

modernist project. An example is the identity crisis Gerald causes a sense of alienation, or separation, from self and

Crich undergoes after having reorganized his father's coal- others. It can lead to a crisis of identity, as it does for Gerald

mining business to reach peak efficiency in the new industrial Crich.

capitalist model. Gerald's business runs so smoothly he is no

longer needed, and his sense of uselessness becomes a
despairing sense of the meaninglessness of life. At the same Edwardian England
time, his workers, whose standard of living has declined under
the new system, paradoxically embrace the system even as it Women in Love is set in England during the Edwardian era,
destroys them because it represents the triumph of human named after the reign of King Edward VII, who was in power
genius over the forces of nature. from 1901–10. The Edwardian era followed the Victorian era, a
time when the British Empire and conservative social values
flourished under the rule of Queen Victoria from 1837–1901.
Modernity The general state of affairs that marked Edward's reign
actually extended from around 1880 to the World War I years
Modernism as an artistic and literary movement is a response (1914–18). This period was known to the French both as fin de
to the perceived cultural and moral vacuum of modernity. The siècle (end of the century) and la belle epoque (the beautiful
term modernity expresses the idea that during the early years age). These terms encapsulated the simultaneous decadence,
of the 20th century, traditional values and lifestyles receded as decline, optimism, and innovation that characterized those
humans began to experience themselves and the world in an years. The supremacy of the British Empire was under threat
entirely new way. A new type of experience arose from the from the newly united German Empire, which began building up
social reorganization caused by the technological its navy. Threats also came from the rise of nationalism in
developments that had begun in the 18th and 19th centuries Europe, such as in Italy. These issues are alluded to and
during the Industrial Revolution. At that time technologies discussed by the characters in Women in Love. Winifred
allowing for the automation of manufacturing processes were Crich's rabbit is named Bismarck, the name of the German
developed. New industries arose to supply the raw materials chancellor who united the empire. Issues of nationalism and
these processes used. Social power shifted from religious patriotism, specifically Italian nationalism, are the topic of

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Women in Love Study Guide In Context 4

conversation at various points in the novel.

Women in Love
In addition to declining power abroad, England experienced
many domestic changes during the Edwardian era. The power D.H. Lawrence published The Rainbow in 1915. As he notes in
of the aristocracy was eroded by an agricultural crisis. Many the foreword, Women in Love is "a potential sequel to The
aristocrats were forced to sell their land, reducing their Rainbow." Women in Love is not a continuation of the same
influence as conservative social tastemakers. The lower-class story as The Rainbow, which details the history of the
members who had once worked on farms sought work in the Brangwen family from 1840 to 1905. However, the two books
cities. They also moved to rural communities with industrial began as one manuscript entitled The Sisters.
production, such as the mining town of Beldover in Women in
Love. This movement began to disrupt the strict class divisions Following the publication of The Rainbow in 1915, the text was

of the Victorian era, and issues such as labor rights came into found in court to be a violation of an 1857 obscenity law. The

the national consciousness. In Women in Love Gerald Crich is novel's eroticism, particularly its depiction of a lesbian

profoundly impressed by the wage dispute that led to the relationship, was cited. Its anti-war stance was also deemed

closing of the mines during his childhood. Nonetheless, inappropriate, given the nation's involvement in World War I.

staggering income disparity and poverty remained. The fact Lawrence had a German wife at a time when
Germany was Britain's enemy also likely contributed to the
The strict gender roles of the Victorian era and the limits suppression of his work. Copies of The Rainbow were burned,
placed on women's access to education and professional life and publication was halted. This was a major personal and
were challenged during this era. In addition debates occurred professional setback for Lawrence.
concerning biologically based arguments about male
superiority. The term feminism became widely known in the Lawrence had revised the other half of The Sisters's

1890s. Around the turn of the century, various feminist groups manuscript by 1917, producing the text of Women in Love. No

agitated for the right to vote. These suffragettes were ridiculed British publisher was willing to take a chance on the novel,

by the media and sometimes imprisoned or otherwise which languished until a small American publisher released it in

persecuted. The widespread misogyny of Edwardian Britain 1920. The following year the novel was first published in

and its increasing rejection by women is reflected in the novel. Britain.

These attitudes are evident in Ursula Brangwen's challenge of

Many of the characters and settings in Women in Love are
the baseless assumption of male superiority and Rupert
clearly based on Lawrence's circle of acquaintances and
Birkin's comparison of women to horses.
actual places. Critics have noted the character Rupert Birkin is

In the late 19th century, Africa was being divided up and based on Lawrence himself. Hermione Roddice and her estate,

claimed by various European powers. The artistic and Breadalby, are drawn from the real-life Lady Ottoline Morrell,

intellectual communities were crazy for all things African and whose Garsington Manor was where intellectuals met and

"primitive." This trend is reflected in the novel through the West discussed their ideas.

African carvings in Julius Halliday's apartment. It also occurs in

The novel's initial reception was mixed. A review published in
Gerald Crich's language that pits the "savages" of Africa in
1921 in the British paper The Guardian enthused, "at its best
opposition to the "civilized" peoples of Europe. Another
Women in Love is in a class apart from other novels." The
example is Rupert Birkin's conception of the African sun-
review stressed that "No writer of today has such an
destruction that preceded the yet-to-come ice-destruction of
electrically vivid power to imagine a scene as Mr. Lawrence."
the white races.
Yet in the same review, the book was criticized as "difficult to
read" and lacking in momentum. The reviewer suggested the
text would have been improved by the elimination of
Writing and Reception of "redundant" and "almost caricatured" portions. In 1922 copies
of Women in Love were seized and unsuccessfully prosecuted
by the Society for the Suppression of Vice.

Throughout the decades, the critical tone toward Women in

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Women in Love Study Guide Author Biography 5

Love has shifted. Originally blasted for its "obscene" depiction local magazine in 1907. He went on to publish more short
of homosexuality and eroticism, the text has also been stories and poems before publishing his first novel, The White
criticized as misogynist. However, the popularity of the work, Peacock, in 1911. A few years later Lawrence showed Jessie
as well as its recognition as a work of genius, has grown the manuscript for Sons and Lovers. Clearly the inspiration for
throughout the decades. A 1969 film adaptation was Miriam's character in the book, Jessie offered her own angry
nominated for and won several awards, including an Academy advice for revisions after accusing Lawrence of twisting their
Award for Glenda Jackson for Best Actress. The British relationship in fiction.
Broadcasting Company adapted the novel for television in
2011. The novel continues to attract lively debate and the
attention of literary critics. Marriage
After two difficult broken engagements—to Jessie Chambers
a Author Biography in 1910 and Louie Burrows in 1912—Lawrence met the love of
his life while visiting an old professor regarding a manuscript
Lawrence had written. Lawrence found himself head over
heels in love with the professor's wife, Frieda von Richthofen,
Early Life an apparently formidable sexual force who allegedly lured
Lawrence into bed 20 minutes after they first met. The
Born in Eastwood, England, on September 11, 1885, David passionate couple ran away together a few months later.
Herbert Lawrence struggled to fit into his working-class, coal- Frieda abandoned her husband and children to start a new life
mining town. As a child, Lawrence was frequently ill and with Lawrence. They married in 1914, soon after Frieda
physically frail. His mother came from an educated, middle- finalized her divorce. Lawrence and Frieda's relationship was
class family and encouraged a love of literature and the arts. filled with brutal, sometimes violent, and regularly public fights,
As a result, her son often didn't fit in well with other boys who yet Lawrence remained passionately devoted to his wife, even
loved athletics and sports. Despite excellent school overlooking her numerous extramarital affairs. After spending
performance, a lack of sociability left young Lawrence often the duration of World War I (1914–18) in England, the couple
depressed and melancholic. As an adult, Lawrence would say spent many years in France and Italy. At the same time,
he felt as if his childhood was lived in "a sort of inner darkness, because of the scandalous themes in his books, Lawrence was
like the gloss of coal." At the same time, Lawrence's gaining the reputation of a "pornographic" writer, and the
relationship with his alcoholic, uneducated father didn't help his resulting outrage and censorship dulled his desire to return to
depression. Arthur John Lawrence had started working the England.
coal mines when he was just 10, and he wasn't equipped to
understand his son's artistic expressions or literary ambitions.

Death and Legacy

Early Writing While he was alive, Lawrence faced sharp criticism for his
"obscene," even "pornographic," novels. His most famous novel,
After graduating from high school in 1901, Lawrence began Lady Chatterley's Lover (1928), was considered so explicit and
working as a factory clerk in Nottingham. Much like the sexually shocking it lived an "underground life" as audiences
character Paul in Sons and Lovers, acknowledged to be clamored to read the title, but publishers in New York and
Lawrence's most autobiographical novel, Lawrence fell ill and London refused to publish it unless it was heavily censored.
took a leave from work to recover. During his convalescence, This censorship wasn't lifted until 1959 and 1960 respectively,
he spent a lot of time at the nearby Haggs Farm, where he nearly 30 years after Lawrence's death from tuberculosis on
formed an intense friendship with the farmer's daughter, Jessie March 2, 1930. Reviews of Lawrence's work at the time of his
Chambers. Lawrence and Jessie's friendship formed over a death were generally scathing. Today, however, most literary
mutual love of literature, and—at Jessie's urging—Lawrence critics regard Lawrence's exploration and realistic portrayal of
began writing creatively. He published his first short story in a sexuality, vulnerability, and emotional health as some of the

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Women in Love Study Guide Characters 6

most brave and influential writing of the early 20th century.

Gudrun Brangwen

h Characters
When the novel opens, Gudrun Brangwen has just returned to
her hometown after spending time living in London as an artist.
She is immediately drawn to Gerald Crich and feels they share
some sort of destiny. When she becomes the governess of
Ursula Brangwen Winifred Crich, her relationship with Gerald accelerates. The
relationship's sexual passion gives way to a pure power
Of all the novel's characters, Ursula is the one who shows the struggle and a fight to the death Gudrun is certain she will win.
most growth. At the beginning of the story, Ursula is In Tyrol Gudrun becomes obsessed with reaching the distant
introverted and stuck inside her head, as she is determined to snowy mountains, feeling it will fulfill her. She turns away from
understand life before making any decisive moves. She enters Gerald and begins a passionate intellectual relationship with
into a relationship with Rupert Birkin and engages in numerous the nihilistic artist Herr Loerke. She almost dies at Gerald's
passionate debates with him about the nature of life and hands but is saved by a wave of apathy that overcomes him.
relationships. Originally opposed to marriage, Ursula finally Learning he is dead, she is unable to feel any emotion,
marries Rupert Birkin. She starts standing up to men such as remaining cold. She moves to Dresden with Herr Loerke.
her father and Gerald Crich when they do things that strike her
as wrong. Following Diana Crich's death, Ursula makes peace
with the idea of her own death. In Tyrol Ursula lets go of the Hermione Roddice
past that defined her as well as any shame attached to her
sensuality. At the novel's end, she is still debating ideas with Hermione attempts to distract herself from her inner
Rupert, showing marriage has not made Ursula complacent nor emptiness by throwing herself into the life of the intellect and
stunted her drive to understand life. by constantly hosting visitors at her estate, Breadalby. She has
a will that refuses to be thwarted and uses it to control the
reluctant Rupert Birkin. When Rupert challenges Hermione by
Gerald Crich speaking of knowledge that is beyond the intellect, Hermione
experiences a feeling of her own dissolution and enters into a
Gerald Crich's accidental killing of his brother when they were trance controlled by her subconscious. In this state she
boys sets him apart from others. He avoids introspection, attempts to murder Rupert by hitting him in the head with a
throwing his energy into doing. Rupert Birkin is his only friend, paperweight. Afterward, she convinces herself she has done
and Gerald suppresses his homosexual desire for Rupert. nothing wrong. She is jealous of Rupert's developing
When his father falls ill, Gerald takes over the mining operation, relationship with Ursula Brangwen. Unable to stop it, she
reforming it to standards of efficiency. It becomes such an moves away to Italy.
efficient operation Gerald finds he is now useless and suffers
an identity crisis. He turns to his relationship with Gudrun
Brangwen as a remedy for this, but their passion for each other Rupert Birkin
is marked by power struggles that culminate in a fight to the
death. At his urging, Gudrun, Ursula, and Rupert join him on Throughout the novel, Rupert Birkin oscillates between a
holiday in the Austrian mountains. Once Ursula and Rupert loathing of humanity and himself, and the desire to save
depart, Gerald becomes tortured by a sense he is imprisoned humanity by finding new values to replace the old ones that no
by the increasingly aloof Gudrun. The solution, he decides, is to longer work. It takes Rupert half the novel to shake off the sick
kill her. Surprising Gudrun and Herr Loerke as they picnic in the relationship he has with Hermione Roddice. Trying to realize a
snowy wilderness, Gerald strangles Gudrun. Moments before new type of marriage that allows both parties to retain their
killing her, he becomes disgusted he cares enough to kill her, individuality, he marries Ursula Brangwen and convinces her
and he wanders off into the mountains to his own death. they should quit their jobs and be homeless. Rupert envisions a
complete life consisting not just of a perfect union with a

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Women in Love Study Guide Characters 7

woman, but also a perfect union with a man. His attempts to

turn his friendship with Gerald Crich, for whom he has a
suppressed love, into this kind of bond do not succeed. Rupert
Birkin believes there is another kind of knowledge, beyond the
mind and the ego, that can be reached through a relationship.
He also believes the white races are headed toward a process
of destruction by ice and Gerald Crich is fated for such
destruction. After Gerald's death, Rupert resolves to limit his
intellectual struggle to seeking personal happiness rather than
trying to fix the world's problems. However, he still retains the
belief he can attain a perfect union with a man to complement
his marriage to Ursula, despite this failing with Gerald.

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Women in Love Study Guide Characters 8

Character Map


Gudrun Brangwen
Artist with dark desires

Lovers and
Friends enemies


Gerald Crich
Herr Loerke
Aloof industrialist
Nihilistic German artist
marked by death

Ursula Brangwen
Passionate, outspoken



Hermione Roddice Rupert Birkin

Pretentious intellectual Intellectual man; searches
aristocrat Former lovers for new values


Main Character

Other Major Character

Minor Character

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Women in Love Study Guide Characters 9

Full Character List The cruel, controlling father of Ursula

and Gudrun, Mr. Brangwen is a
Mr. Brangwen handicraft instructor at the school in
Willey Green as well as the church
Character Description

Ursula Brangwen, a schoolteacher,

Ursula Brangwen Rosalind Rosalind Brangwen is a sibling of
marries Rupert Birkin.
Brangwen Ursula and Gudrun Brangwen.

Gerald Crich takes over the mining

Doctor Brindell is the father of young
company when his father becomes
Doctor Brindell Doctor Brindell, who dies trying to
ill. Suffering an identity crisis, he
Gerald Crich save Diana Crich from drowning.
feels imprisoned by his relationship
with Gudrun Brangwen, a feeling that
leads to tragic consequences. At the Criches' water party, young
Young Doctor Doctor Brindell jumps into the lake to
Brindell save Diana Crich, but Diana drowns
Gudrun Brangwen, an artist, is
with her arms around his neck.
Gudrun temperamental and passionate. Her
Brangwen involvement with Gerald Crich leads
to his death. The countess, whose name is
Palestra, is a petite, young,
Countess fashionable Italian woman who is
Hermione Roddice is a self-​liberated
present at Breadalby when Ursula
Hermione aristocratic woman who lives entirely
and Gudrun visit.
Roddice in her intellect. She is obsessed with
Rupert Birkin and tries to kill him.
Basil Crich is a sibling of Gerald
Basil Crich
Rupert Birkin is a school inspector
who marries Ursula Brangwen. He is
Rupert Birkin
focused on finding new values to live Diana Crich is the lively teenage
by. daughter of Thomas Crich. She
Diana Crich drowns in Willey Water after dancing
on the roof of a boat at her father's
Alice is a maid at Breadalby, the
annual party.
Alice estate where Hermione Roddice
Laura Crich is the daughter of
Thomas Crich and is Gerald's sister.
Bismarck is Winifred Crich's giant Laura Crich
Bismarck She marries a naval officer in the
pet rabbit.
first chapter.

Miss Bradley is a young athletic

Lottie Crich is a married daughter of
woman who is a guest of Hermione's
Miss Bradley Lottie Crich Thomas Crich. Her husband is
at Breadalby the second time Ursula
and Gudrun visit.

Mrs. Christiana Crich is the strange,

Mrs. Brangwen is the mother of
Mrs. Brangwen Mrs. Crich withdrawn, absent mother of Gerald
Ursula and Gudrun.
and is the wife of Thomas.

Billy Brangwen is the younger

Billy Brangwen Thomas Crich is Gerald's father who
brother of Ursula and Gudrun.
runs the mining company on values
Thomas Crich of Christian charity and love. He dies
Dora Brangwen is the shy younger slowly and unwillingly after Diana
Dora Brangwen Crich's death.
sister of Ursula and Gudrun.

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Women in Love Study Guide Characters 10

Winifred Crich is the unique, artistic The host runs the inn in Tyrol where
teenage sister of Gerald Crich. Host at inn in Gerald Crich, Gudrun Brangwen,
Winifred Crich
Gudrun Brangwen becomes her Tyrol Rupert Birkin, and Ursula Brangwen
governess. stay. He does not speak English.

Crowther is the elderly manservant Miss Inglis is Thomas Crich's nurse.

Crowther Miss Inglis
of the Crich family. She confirms his death.

A cyclist passes by Ursula Brangwen Sir Joshua is a middle-​aged member

Cyclist and Rupert Birkin as they are fighting of the aristocracy and a guest at
in the road in Chapter 23. Sir Joshua Breadalby, Hermione Roddice's
estate, when Ursula and Gudrun
Brangwen come to visit.
Herr Professor and his two
daughters are guests at the inn in
Daughters of
Tyrol. Gerald dances with one of the Ursula and Gudrun Brangwen buy
Herr Professor
daughters, causing Gudrun to realize honey from Mrs. Kirk. She tells them
his nature is not monogamous. Mrs. Kirk about caring for Gerald when he was
a boy, claiming he was a demonic
Mrs. Daykin is Rupert Birkin's
Mrs. Daykin
landlady at his apartment in town.
Leitner is a guest at the inn in Tyrol
Leitner and the younger friend of Herr
The doctor attends to Thomas Crich Loerke.
in his final days.

Leo is the deceased kitten of

Fred is the fiancé of the young Leo
Winifred Crich.
pregnant woman who receives the
gift of the chair from Ursula
Brangwen and Rupert Birkin. Letherington is a poor miner who
Letherington comes to the Crich home asking for
Grocock is a poor miner who comes
to the Crich home asking for help.
Herr Loerke is a guest at the inn in
Tyrol who becomes close to Gudrun
Julius Halliday is part of the London Brangwen. He is an artist who
bohemian crowd and a regular at the Herr Loerke believes art refers only to itself but is
Pompadour. He is also the Pussum's more real than life. He is with Gudrun
lover. Terrified of her power, he has when Gerald Crich attempts to kill
ordered the Pussum to remain in the her.
Julius Halliday
country alone after he impregnated
her. Halliday is also a friend of
Rupert Birkin, with a flat in London Looloo is Winifred Crich's beloved,
where Rupert and Gerald Crich stay but hideous and elderly, dog.

Tibs Lupton is the naval officer who

Hasan is Julius Halliday's Hindu marries Laura Crich. He is late for his
Hasan servant. Halliday explains Hasan was Tibs Lupton wedding because he is discussing
found in the street, starving. the immortality of the soul with
Rupert Birkin.
The hired footman serves the guests
Hired footman at the luncheon following Laura Mademoiselle is the French
Crich's wedding. governess of Winifred Crich.

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Women in Love Study Guide Plot Summary 11

Newly arrived at the inn in Tyrol, Alexander Roddice (Salsie) is

Ursula Brangwen sees a man with a Alexander Hermione's bachelor brother, who,
Man with lantern
lantern enter an outhouse and is Roddice despite serving in Parliament, is
reminded of her childhood. frequently at Breadalby.

Marshall is one of Gerald Crich's Mr. Roddice is Hermione Roddice's

Marshall brothers-​in-​law. He is married to Mr. Roddice father. He spends most of his time
Lottie Crich. away from Breadalby, abroad.

Fraulein Marz is a young female Mrs. Salmon lives at the millhouse

secretary who is a guest at where Rupert Birkin lives. She is the
Mrs. Salmon
Fraulein Marz Breadalby, Hermione Roddice's wife of a laborer who maintains the
estate, when Ursula and Gudrun property.
Brangwen come to visit.
Simpson is a servant in the Crich
Maxim is a young Russian man, part household.
of the bohemian crowd at the
Pompadour, with whom Rupert Birkin
and Gerald Crich socialize in London. Students at Among the guests at the Tyrol inn
Tyrol inn are several students.

A miner with a lantern directs Gerald

Miner with Crich toward Beldover when he goes A tipsy miner gives Gerald Crich
lantern walking at night after his father's Tipsy miner directions when he goes walking at
death. night after his father's death.

At the market, Rupert Birkin and Wilson works in the Criches'

Old man on stool Ursula Brangwen buy a chair from an greenhouse at Shortlands. He helps
old man sitting on a stool. Winifred Crich assemble a welcome
bouquet for Gudrun Brangwen.

A policeman takes tickets from the

Policeman guests attending the Criches' water A woman at the inn in Tyrol brings
party. news of Gerald's death to Gudrun.

Herr Professor is a guest at the inn in While speaking to Rupert Birkin, the
Tyrol where Gudrun Brangwen, Young man at Pussum sends away a young man
Herr Professor the Pompadour who comes to the table for her
Ursula Brangwen, Rupert Birkin, and
Gerald Crich stay. attention.

The Pussum (Miss Darrington) is a Rupert Birkin and Ursula Brangwen

young, sexually free, artist's model Young pregnant buy a chair and then, deciding to
living a bohemian life in London. She woman at forego all possessions, give it to a
has become pregnant by Rupert market young pregnant woman at the
The Pussum Birkin's friend Julius Halliday but has market.
returned to London in defiance of his
orders. She and Gerald Crich sleep
together at Halliday's flat after
meeting at the Pompadour.
k Plot Summary
Captain Rockley supervises the boat
Captain Rockley
launch at the Criches' water party.

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Women in Love Study Guide Plot Summary 12

In London Gerald and Rupert socialize with a bohemian crowd

Relationships Form at a bar, the Pompadour. They stay at the flat of Rupert's friend
Julius Halliday, where both are moved by an African carving of
One spring morning sometime during the World War I era, the a woman in labor. Gerald sleeps with a young woman called
Brangwen sisters Ursula and Gudrun discuss their trepidation the Pussum, who is pregnant with Halliday's child.
about marriage. They are about to attend the wedding of Laura
Crich, daughter of the wealthy mine owner Thomas Crich. Ursula and Gudrun visit Breadalby, Hermione Roddice's estate.
Gudrun finds herself attracted to Crich's eldest son Gerald, During a weekend gathering, Rupert explains to Hermione by
and Ursula is drawn toward Crich family friend Rupert Birkin. copying a drawing of geese, he gains an understanding of their
Ursula and Gudrun do not attend the reception following the experience that is beyond the capacity of the intellect.
wedding at Shortlands, the Crich estate. Gerald plays host Hermione feels she is being destroyed. At dinner the guests
because his father is unwell. Mrs. Crich—disheveled, absent, perform and dance, and the attraction between Ursula and
and apathetic—approaches Rupert, and they discuss their Rupert, and Gudrun and Gerald, grows. When Rupert goes to
mutual disinterest in people. She tells him she wants him to be make amends to Hermione for upsetting her, she tries to kill
Gerald's friend, and Rupert recalls how Gerald accidentally him with a paperweight. Rupert escapes and walks into the
shot his brother as a child. Later at the party, Rupert tells woods, where he is comforted by the feeling of the plants on
Gerald ideal human behavior is spontaneous. Gerald disagrees, his naked body. He writes to Hermione, telling her she was
saying this would lead to a rash of murders. Rupert claims right to follow her impulses and attack him, but he won't be
Gerald's opinion means he secretly wants to be murdered. back at Breadalby for a while.

A little later, Ursula, a teacher at the local school, finds her Ursula and Gudrun witness Gerald forcing his horse to endure
classroom lesson on plant botany interrupted first by Rupert the awful noise of the approaching train at a crossing. They
and then by Hermione Roddice. Hermione is a strange both criticize him, but he is merely intrigued by Gudrun. A little
aristocratic woman who has an unhealthy obsession with while later, the hellish bond between Gudrun and Gerald is
Rupert. Hermione makes an emotional rant about how established during a chance encounter at Willey Water. It
knowledge and education cripple the soul. Rupert counters, occurs when Gerald retrieves her sketchbook, which has fallen
charging her with existing only in her mind. The hatred into the lake. On an island in the middle of the millpond above
between the two lovers makes an impression on Ursula, but Willey Water, Ursula and Rupert discuss Rupert's loathing of
she and Rupert also feel a mutual attraction. Shortly thereafter, humanity and distaste for the word love. Feeling hate for him,
Ursula and Gudrun walk to Willey Water, the lake at Shortlands. Ursula challenges his concepts until he becomes aloof and
They watch Gerald dive naked into the water and swim in begins pulling daisies and sending them onto the water. These
obvious solitary enjoyment. Gudrun is jealous of the male seem to put a spell on her. Rupert tells her he plans to drop out
privilege that allows Gerald to do such things. Ursula tells of society and live a solitary life at the millhouse. He convinces
Gudrun about Gerald's killing his brother as a boy and her to join Gerald and Hermione, who have just arrived, to view
suggests it was not an accident, but an expression of a his rooms. In the house Hermione takes charge, ignoring
subconscious desire to kill. Gudrun disagrees. Gerald and Ursula. She insists on Rupert accepting a gift of
carpet, which he doesn't want. Ursula criticizes Gerald for
abusing his horse the other day, leading to Rupert's assertion
The Push-Pull of the women, like horses, have a divided will. Ursula and Hermione
agree they are sick of the men's insistence on analyzing life,
Relationships but the two women also mistrust each other.

Soon after, Ursula visits Rupert and he explains the kind of

On a train headed toward London, Gerald and Rupert discuss a
relationship he wants, which is beyond love. They watch his
newspaper editorial claiming society will soon crumble unless
male cat, Mino, swat a stray female into submission, which
new values can be found. Rupert agrees about society's dire
Rupert uses to justify his argument about male superiority.
state but doesn't believe it can be fixed. He tells Gerald he is
Finally, Ursula succeeds in getting Rupert to tell her he loves
seeking to reinvent marriage in his own life. Their words and
body language reveal their suppressed desire for each other.

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Women in Love Study Guide Plot Summary 13

passionate sex, and she leaves. The next day Rupert recalls
Diabolical Connections the wooden carving of the African woman in labor at Julius
Halliday's apartment. He muses the Africans have gone in
At the Criches' annual outdoor party one summer Saturday, advance of the "white races" through the process of
teenage Diana Crich drowns in Willey Water, along with young dissolution into "sensual, mindless, dreadful mysteries." This
Doctor Brindell who goes in to rescue her. Gerald dives destruction will be different for the "white races," given their
repeatedly into the cold water looking for his sister. Rupert origin in the snows of the north. It will be "ice-destructive
drains the water from the lake, but the bodies aren't found until knowledge" rather than directed by the burning sun. He thinks
dawn. The whole village experiences the thrill and presence of of Gerald as one who will die in the cold, a messenger of the
death. The day after the party, Ursula waits, madly in love, for coming "universal dissolution" by ice. Frightened, he turns
Rupert to come to her. As the day wears on, she becomes toward love and decides to marry Ursula. Going at once to her
convinced she will die and death is the next step forward. house to propose, he is received by her antagonistic father,
Birkin finally arrives, but Ursula is taken by hatred for him. Will Brangwen. Ursula returns home at her father's cruel
insistence. She answers Rupert's proposal immediately, but
Bedridden with an illness, Rupert feels furious hatred toward
accuses both him and her father of bullying her. Over the next
women, who act as if they own men because they are the ones
several days, Ursula decides to get what she wants from her
who give birth. Gerald visits, and Rupert suggests they take an
relationship with Rupert.
oath of blood brotherhood. Gerald neither accepts nor rejects
the offer. Gerald reveals his father will die from the tragedy of Immediately after the disastrous proposal, Rupert goes to
Diana's death and is preoccupied with securing a good future Shortlands and finds Gerald eaten up with emptiness. To make
for his teenage daughter, Winifred. Rupert proposes they him feel better, Rupert suggests they do jujitsu together. They
employ Gudrun as Winifred's governess. He says Winifred's wrestle naked in a communion that is blatantly sexual.
special nature demands a special world and would be Afterward, Rupert tells Gerald about the proposal. Gerald
destroyed by a regular path through school and marriage. responds by telling Rupert he is unsure whether he'll ever love
a woman in the way he loves Rupert. Rupert says he cannot
Thomas Crich is on his deathbed, beset by dark pains linked to
answer for Gerald, and Gerald claims not to care what
his antagonistic, withdrawn wife. His illness means Gerald has
happens in life as long as it fulfills him.
taken over operation of the mines. Gerald has rejected his
father's values of Christian love and charity and operates the Attracted by the prospect of having her own studio, Gudrun
business according solely to the principle of efficiency. Having accepts the Crich family's offer to be Winifred's governess.
remade the business as an efficient machine, Gerald finds Winifred denies her father's impending death, and Gerald
there is nothing more for him to do and begins to suffer an approves of this, saying one should enjoy life since one will die
identity crisis. anyway. His comment ignites a fury of passion in Gudrun.
Gerald and Gudrun bond by mocking Rupert's ideas of love.
Gudrun visits Shortlands to see if she would like to accept the
Later that day, Ursula finds herself alone with Hermione while
offer of being Winifred's governess, knowing it will mean a
they wait for Rupert to arrive. Ursula confides in Hermione
relationship with Gerald. She and Winifred establish a rapport
about her relationship with Rupert and her ambivalence about
immediately. Winifred shows Gudrun her large rabbit Bismarck,
marrying him. Hermione is jealous and counsels Ursula not to
and Gudrun and Gerald both struggle with the powerful rabbit.
marry him. Ursula senses Hermione's agenda and resents it.
The rabbit wounds both Gerald and Gudrun, confirming to
Rupert arrives, and they take tea. Hermione says she's going to
each they have a diabolical connection.
Florence for the winter before spending the rest of the visit
speaking Italian to the cat. She succeeds in making Ursula feel
alienated, and Ursula leaves in anger. Ursula feels Hermione
Complications and Rupert belong to each other and to the old, dying way of
On a nighttime walk to Willey Green, Ursula finds Rupert at the
millpond, throwing rocks at the reflection of the moon. They
argue about love. Finally, they touch. He rebuffs her desire for

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Women in Love Study Guide Plot Summary 14

and Rupert's by marrying Gudrun. Gerald says he was planning

Ursula and Rupert to invite Gudrun to come away with him to Europe at
Christmas. He wants Ursula and Rupert to join them. Returning
On a drive through the country the next day, Rupert gives to the empty family home two days later to gather Ursula's
Ursula three rings. When he says he'll be going to Shortlands to belongings, the sisters find it frightening. They agree their
say farewell to Hermione, they begin to fight about what parents' life is meaningless. They also agree they don't want a
Hermione means to Rupert. Ursula throws the rings and storms home, but Gudrun secretly feels a home and marriage will fulfill
off. She leaves Rupert to contemplate how Ursula and her.
Hermione both want a love that demands two selves merge. He
wants to remain separate in love. Ursula returns, and they
make up. They decide to quit their jobs and live a homeless life.
They spend the night in the forest where they consummate
The Denouement
their love.
Shortly before Christmas, Gerald and Gudrun depart for

The doctor has given Thomas Crich hours to live, and Mrs. Europe ahead of Rupert and Ursula. An evening at the

Crich tells Gerald to leave so he won't be destroyed by his Pompadour, during which Gudrun witnesses Halliday and his

father's death. Gerald tells Gudrun life is now meaningless and friends mocking Rupert, fills Gudrun with a disgust for London.

he must confront his own death. Gerald and Gudrun are

Ursula regains a sense of reality. Rupert experiences absolute
passionately intimate under the railway bridge. Gerald watches
peace for the first time in his life on the overnight passage
his father die two days later and is filled with a happiness that
from Dover to Ostend by ship. Ursula is disappointed the world
frightens him. Mrs. Crich is angry Thomas's corpse has a
passing out the train window through Switzerland is not the
youthful look, suggesting he died unwillingly. After the funeral,
new world she hoped for. Instead it reminds her of her
Gerald is unable to stand being alone and walks to his father's
childhood. However, she begins to get a sense of newness
grave. Then he goes to Beldover, where he slips into Gudrun's
once they enter the snow peaks past Zurich. Ursula and Rupert
house and finds her in her bed. They consummate their
arrive at the hotel in snow-covered Innsbruck, where Gudrun
and Gerald are waiting for them. All are elated with the feeling

As Christmas approaches, Gerald asks Rupert if he should of the snow, and Gudrun says it makes her feel "more than

marry Gudrun, as he is at a point in life where he must choose human." The following day they arrive at their final destination,

a direction. Rupert expresses his conception of a perfect the Hohenhausen valley in Tyrol. There the railroad line ends,

relationship with a man to complement his perfect union in and the valley is closed in by a wall of high, snow-covered

marriage with a woman. Gerald sees marriage as an peaks. Ursula feels she has reached a new world, but the snow

imprisonment, not a perfect union. He rejects Rupert's offer to soon becomes frightening and oppressive.

enter into a permanent bond with him.

Ursula and Rupert leave Tyrol. Gerald becomes obsessed with

Ursula and Rupert visit the secondhand market in Beldover and killing Gudrun as the way to free himself from the spell she has

purchase an old chair they both like. This sets Rupert off into a on him. Gudrun is obsessed with the snow peaks and feels she

rhapsody about the past, which upsets Ursula. Remembering will be fulfilled by reaching them. She is also growing close to

their decision to be homeless, they give the chair to a poor Loerke, an artist at the inn whom Gerald despises. She knows

young pregnant couple. Ursula goes home, where Ursula's a fight to the death is coming but thinks she can win. Gerald

father bullies and hits her when she announces to her family surprises Gudrun and Loerke while they picnic in the snow and

she'll marry Rupert the following day. She stands up to her punches Loerke. Gerald begins to strangle Gudrun. Overcome

father, claiming his love was only ever cruelty. She leaves the with disgust that he cares enough to kill her, he stumbles off

family home, distraught, and goes to Rupert, who soothes her. into the snowy mountains, trying to reach the end. After seeing

He knows his soul is old and close to death. He feels his a crucifix, he falls and goes to sleep. The next morning, news

marriage to Ursula, whose soul burns young and bright, will be of Gerald's death leaves Gudrun cold. Ursula and Rupert return

his salvation and passage into life. They marry the following to Tyrol, and Rupert questions Gudrun about the

day. Ursula tells Gerald he should find a happiness like hers circumstances of Gerald's death. Filled with grief, Rupert sits
beside his friend's corpse, which bears no resemblance to

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Women in Love Study Guide Plot Summary 15

Gerald when he was alive. He regrets Gerald never entered

into a permanent bond with him. But he reassures himself
Ursula and he need not fear death because of their bond.
Gudrun moves to Germany, and Ursula and Rupert return to
the millhouse at Beldover. They continue to argue about what
is possible in relationships.

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Women in Love Study Guide Plot Summary 16

Plot Diagram



Falling Action

Rising Action 8

6 14



9. Gudrun, Ursula, Birkin, and Gerald travel to Tyrol.

10. Gerald becomes obsessed with killing Gudrun.

1. Gudrun and Ursula become attracted to Gerald and Birkin.


Rising Action 11. As he strangles Gudrun, disgust weakens Gerald.

2. Hermione Roddice tries to kill Birkin.

3. Diana Crich dies at the water party.

Falling Action
4. With his father dying, Gerald suffers an identity crisis.
12. Gerald wanders off and dies in the snow.
5. Gudrun becomes Winifred's governess.
13. Gudrun is emotionless at news of Gerald's death.
6. Ursula and Birkin sleep together and quit their jobs.
14. Ursula and Birkin return to Tyrol, and Birkin grieves.
7. Thomas Crich dies, and Gerald sleeps with Gudrun.

8. Ursula and Birkin marry.

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Women in Love Study Guide Plot Summary 17


15. Ursula and Birkin return home, and Gudrun moves to


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Women in Love Study Guide Plot Summary 18

Timeline of Events

Spring, early 1900s

At a wedding, Gudrun Brangwen is attracted to Gerald

Crich, and Ursula Brangwen is attracted to Rupert Birkin.

Some weeks later

On a train to London, Rupert Birkin and Gerald Crich

discuss the impending collapse of society.

Some weeks later

The attraction between the four grows at Breadalby.

Hermione Roddice tries to murder Rupert Birkin.

Soon thereafter

Ursula and Gudrun are horrified by Gerald Crich's

treatment of his horse at the railroad crossing.

Shortly thereafter

Gudrun binds Gerald to her when he retrieves her

notebook from the lake.

That same day

Alone on an island, Birkin and Ursula argue their personal


A Saturday in summer

Diana Crich drowns at the Crich's annual water party.

The next day

Ursula's love for Birkin becomes a meditation on her own

death, finally resolving into hatred.

Shortly thereafter

As his father dies, Gerald Crich takes over the mills and
experiences an identity crisis.

Soon thereafter

A violent encounter with Winifred Crich's rabbit confirms

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Women in Love Study Guide Plot Summary 19

Gudrun and Gerald's shared cruelty.

Some time later

Birkin's proposal to Ursula ends disastrously when her

father intervenes.

Immediately after

Gerald and Birkin wrestle naked. Gerald confesses his

love, but Birkin grows distant.

Shortly thereafter

Gudrun becomes Winifred's governess, and her passion

for Gerald grows.

Soon after

Birkin gives Ursula three rings. They have sex and decide
to quit their jobs and be homeless.

Soon after

Thomas Crich dies, and Gerald seeks Gudrun in his

emptiness. They have sex.

Shortly thereafter

Ursula stands up to her father and marries Birkin. Gerald

proposes a trip to Tyrol at Christmas.

Near Christmas

Ursula, Gudrun, Gerald, and Birkin arrive in Tyrol. Ursula

feels she's reached a new world.

Shortly thereafter

Gudrun grows close to Herr Loerke. Gerald almost kills

Gudrun but wanders off to die in the snow.

Soon after

Gerald's death makes a rift between Ursula and Gudrun.

Gudrun moves to Dresden. Birkin grieves.

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Women in Love Study Guide Chapter Summaries 20

Circumstances have compelled Lawrence to reject the guiding

c Chapter Summaries values of the past and to try to fill the ensuing vacuum with
new values. Part of his process was the writing of Women in
Love. The format of the novel gave Lawrence numerous tools

Foreword for examining his own struggle. It is expressed in the

characters, the plot, the imagery and symbolism, and the
philosophical claims of the characters and the narrator. The
personal nature of the book's subject matter is underscored by
Summary infrequent narrative shifts from third-person omniscient into
first person. These shifts give the reader the sense Lawrence,
In the foreword, written in 1919, Lawrence addresses the
rather than obscuring himself as the author, is, in fact, speaking
conditions and criticism surrounding the creation and
directly to his audience.
reception of Women in Love.
Like The Rainbow, Women in Love would also attract
Lawrence wrote and then rewrote the novel between 1913 and
controversy because of its sex scenes and portrayal of a thinly
1917, a time period that roughly coincides with the years of
disguised homosexual attraction between two men. The sex
World War I (1914–18). The novel's action does not take place
scenes will likely strike modern readers as more symbolic and
in a definite year, but Lawrence wants readers to keep in mind
poetic than explicit. However, the reader who keeps in mind
"the bitterness of the war" when considering the characters.
these scenes were scandalous in Lawrence's time will better
appreciate the courage of Lawrence's project. This is a novel
Charges of "uncleanness and pornography" were made in
of ideas. Lawrence's sex scenes express ideas about the
England against his previous novel, The Rainbow. Therefore,
movement of individuals through spiritual states of
many London publishers refused to publish Women in Love,
transcendence, union, separation, submission, and dominance.
which Lawrence states is "a potential sequel" to that novel. In
the United States, The Rainbow was condemned for its
Chapter 1
In addressing this accusation of "eroticism," Lawrence
describes his personal philosophy about what it means to be
human. The erotic should not be condemned because it arises Summary
from "the creative soul, the God-mystery within" each human
being. An individual fulfills their purpose and finds freedom only Narrated in the past tense by a third-person omniscient
by struggling to understand "what is happening" in the world narrator, Women in Love takes place around the time of World
and in their soul. The end of the war has left humanity with the War I (1914–18). The novel begins in Beldover, a small coal-
urgent task of finding and embracing new ways of mining town in the Midlands (central part) of England. The first
understanding and living. scene describes a conversation between the Brangwen sisters
that takes place in their father's home in Beldover. Ursula
Women in Love is Lawrence's chronicle of his own struggle
Brangwen, 26, is a teacher at the local Willey Green Parish
with himself and the world. He notes and dismisses criticisms
School. Introverted and thoughtful, Ursula lives much of her life
of the novel's style, which is characterized by "continual,
inside her head. Continually struggling to find understanding
slightly modified repetition." Lawrence claims this style is an
and meaning by examining her limited external experience,
accurate representation of how individuals move through
Ursula feels she is on the brink of a major breakthrough.
confusion toward insight.
Gudrun Brangwen, 25, is an art teacher at the same school.
She has recently returned to Beldover after spending several
years living among artists in London. Ursula, who is sincere and
Analysis inward, adores Gudrun, who is beautiful and given to
contrasting statements.
Lawrence makes clear this is a work of fiction that is
nonetheless infused with the truth of his own lived experience.

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Women in Love Study Guide Chapter Summaries 21

The sisters, both unmarried, discuss marriage. Although she When the bridegroom arrives, the bride, Gerald Crich's sister
does not share Ursula's desire to one day have children, Laura, spontaneously instigates a race to the church door. The
Gudrun sees marriage as an adventure. It could potentially Brangwen sisters wait outside. Each is absorbed in their
remedy her frustration and boredom with life. "Nothing contemplation of the man who has caught their eye until their
materializes! Everything withers in the bud," Gudrun complains. father's organ playing marks the end of the wedding. The
Ursula points out marriage, far from a certain solution to marriage ceremony concludes, and the wedding party exits.
boredom, is "more likely the end of experience." The sisters
agree it is impossible to imagine a life married to "any man one
knows." Ursula asks Gudrun why she came back to Beldover, a Analysis
coarse, shabby town with little to offer them. Gudrun replies
her homecoming was an act of "reculer pour mieux sauter." The first chapter sets the stage for the novel's continuous
This is a French expression meaning "to run back in order to examination of love and marriage. Lawrence appropriately
make a better jump forward." The conversation leaves both uses a wedding to draw the five main characters into the single
sisters feeling "confronted by a void, a terrifying chasm as if space that allows them to react to one another. They also
they had looked over the edge." react to the same event, thereby revealing fundamentals of
their personality.
To push these thoughts aside, the sisters decide to attend the
wedding of one of the daughters of Thomas Crich, a wealthy Lawrence frequently uses the literary device of juxtaposition
Beldover mine owner. As they walk by "a patch of common- between elements that oppose or undermine one another to
garden, where sooty cabbage stumps stood shameless," emphasize thematic elements and create meaning. In this first
Gudrun describes her impression of Beldover. She says, "The chapter, the Brangwen sisters' uncertainty about marriage
people are all ghouls, and everything is a ghoulish replica of the gives way to terror the more they discuss it. Lawrence then
real world ... all soiled, everything sordid. It's like being mad." juxtaposes this fear-inducing discussion with an actual
They walk over the hill into "the purer country" of Willey Green wedding. The girls choose to attend it in order to beat down
and watch the wedding party assemble at the church. the dread they feel inside about the prospect of their own
marriage. Ursula and Gudrun have just agreed marriage,
Gudrun finds herself startled by the intensity of her attraction whatever its philosophical implications, is an impossible
to Gerald Crich, the eldest Crich son, when he arrives with his proposition. This is the case because marriage must involve a
mother. Drawn in by "something northern about him that man. They recoil from the thought of living with any man they
magnetized her," she tells herself "his totem is the wolf." have ever known. But at the wedding moments later, this
Gudrun becomes lost in her thoughts. She wonders, "Am I distaste for men is replaced by a compelling urge toward two
really singled out for him in some way, is there really some pale men. This juxtaposition suggests a philosophical stance on
gold, arctic light that envelops only us two?" Ursula finds marriage is easily overridden by emotional desire.
herself fascinated by Rupert Birkin when he arrives tardily with
the groom. He is a school inspector whom she has met before. The five main characters also foil one another, representing
Ursula feels she and Rupert share an understanding of some dissimilar points of view, social positions, and tendencies.
kind, despite his air of distance. Gudrun tells Ursula Rupert, Lawrence presents middle-class Gudrun and Ursula as
though attractive, is not trustworthy because he lacks representing opposing modes of living. Ursula seeks to
discernment. Rupert's "nature was clever and separate, yet ... understand internally before acting, and Gudrun prefers to gain
he affected to be quite ordinary, perfectly and marvelously her understanding as a result of her actions. Aristocratic
commonplace," in order to "disarm" others from "attacking his Hermione represents a third mode, which eschews deep
singleness." understanding of herself and her position in exchange for a
shallow fixation on culture and ideas. She displaces her own
Hermione Roddice, a bridesmaid and a friend of the Crich quest for understanding onto another person, Rupert Birkin. He
family, arrives. Roddice is an imposing woman. She is an is her center, and she allows their relationship to dictate her
aristocratic intellectual who attempts to fill her inner emptiness experience and emotions.
through her fixation on Rupert Rupert, which he tolerates but
does not return her affections. The two male protagonists, Gerald and Rupert, are here

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Women in Love Study Guide Chapter Summaries 22

presented through the lens of the women's perception. happens has a universal significance." Rupert decides he does
Hermione sees Rupert as something that must be possessed. not believe in accidents.
Ursula sees in him a potential for a deeper relationship based
on shared understanding but makes no definite conclusions. The manservant, Crowther, bangs a gong indicating lunch is

Gudrun experiences Gerald's violence physically, as a "strange ready. The guests ignore this summons but respond

transport took possession of her [and] all her veins were in a immediately when Gerald blows into a conch shell. He makes a

paroxysm of violent sensation." She is left with a sense of a noise that is "almost magical" and "unearthly." At the table

shared fate with Gerald, which is connected to the arctic, or Gerald's 14-year-old sister, Winifred, chides Gerald for making

northern, quality he radiates. The wedding plays in the such a loud noise when their father is trying to rest. Her sister

background like part of the stage rather than the action itself. Diana, who is slightly older, drinks wine in defiance of Gerald

The juxtaposition of the reactions of the women to the men after securing the consent of their indifferent mother. Mrs.

emphasizes the complexity of relationships and the Crich sits next to Rupert and repeatedly asks him to identify

inadequacy of traditional marriage to address this complexity. various people at the table.

Finally, the social milieu of the novel is emphasized through the

During lunch, Hermione criticizes patriotism because it
juxtaposition between the sordid, ghoulish Beldover and fresh
encourages rivalry and creates "bad blood" between nations,
Willey Green just over the hill. These elements are the roots of
which she compares to businesses. Gerald disagrees. He says
the novel, and Lawrence will continue to develop, shift, and
nations are based on race and are like families. He claims
undermine them throughout the text.
competition between nations, or emulation, drives progress.
Hermione is pleased when Rupert announces he "detest[s] the
spirit of emulation." Gerald then argues laws are necessary to
Chapter 2 ensure liberty because they restrain humanity's violent and
immoral nature. He offers the symbolic example of two men
fighting because one has stolen the other's hat. Rupert
Summary counters with the argument a man can retain his freedom and
avoid violence without the law because he can choose to be
The wedding reception is held at Shortlands, the Crich family indifferent to the theft. Hermione says she would kill someone
estate. Shortlands is "rural and picturesque, very peaceful." It is who stole her hat. Laura Crich ends the conversation by calling
hidden from the mining operation the next valley over, for a toast, and Rupert is consumed with hatred for humanity.
separated by a narrow lake called Willey Water and the forest.
After lunch the party moves outside. Rupert tells Gerald he and
The chatter of the women dominates the gathering, while the the groom, Lupton, were late for the wedding because they
men stand about seeming uncertain and bored. Mrs. Crich were discussing the immortality of the soul. This interests
enters the room and begins to engage Rupert Birkin in a Gerald, but he is irritated to learn his sister Laura raced her
private conversation. Rupert notes her unkempt appearance, tardy groom to the church door. Rupert praises Laura's
which seems to correspond to her confused, detached state of spontaneous and authentic behavior, saying all humans should
being. Mrs. Crich says she doesn't know most of the people behave so authentically. Gerald counters this would lead to
present and wonders why she is expected to know them, as constant murder. Rupert claims murders are a result of the
they have no significance for her. Rupert responds most mutual desire of "a murderer" and "a man who is murderable."
people amount to nothing and therefore ought to be "wiped He claims Gerald's opinion suggests "a profound if hidden lust
out." Mrs. Crich says she barely knows her own children, ... to be murdered." The narrator notes this conversation has
except for Gerald, whom she says has never had a friend. She "brought [Rupert and Gerald] into a deadly nearness of
asks Rupert to be Gerald's friend. Mentally, Rupert rejects the contact, a strange, perilous intimacy of hate or love, or both."
idea he is "[his] brother's keeper." He remembers these words The two men suppress their deep, heartfelt desire for each
are those of the biblical character Cain, who killed his own other because each believes intimacy between men is
brother. Gerald is like Cain, Rupert thinks, because he "unnatural and unmanly."
accidentally killed his brother when they were boys. He
ponders whether accidents truly exist or if "everything that

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Women in Love Study Guide Chapter Summaries 23

Rupert, despite his feeling of disgust for humanity and
This chapter's action is continuous with the previous chapter, contempt for most individuals, does not tend toward violence.
following the wedding party from the church in Willey Green to His contempt manifests as indifference to preserve his
Shortlands, the Crich estate. The three settings so far personal peace of mind (in the example of the hat theft). It is
presented (the first being Beldover) represent an ascension evident as an abstract wish humanity be eradicated by some
through the class stratification of the social world Lawrence greater force. He says humanity, lacking meaning, would be
writes about. All three settings are manifestations of the coal better that it didn't exist. In this perverse way, two things are
economy, but only one of them evokes horror and despair: established. The reader realizes Rupert's nature as a seeker of
Beldover, where the miners and their families work and live. profound truth and understanding. The reader also
Willey Green represents a middle step, with the church and understands Rupert's sometimes grating overconfidence in his
school being links between the commoners and the lower own ideas. Both of these elements will drive the novel's plot.
crust. Shortlands, however, is at the apex of the
socioeconomic hierarchy, being the home of mine owner Finally, the closing interaction between Gerald and Rupert
Thomas Crich. Water is often evoked significantly in the novel, establishes two more important elements. The ambiguous
and it is important that Willey Water is situated as a threshold nature of love and hate, including the close association of what
between these different worlds. are commonly presumed to be separate and opposing states,
is a major theme in the novel. The suppressed attraction or
Despite the outward signs of success, this chapter hammers love between Gerald and Rupert is also established. This also
the point much is amiss within the Crich family. Both parents fortifies the idea social norms exert a distorting, falsifying
are absent from their daughter's wedding celebration. Although influence on human self-expression.
Mrs. Crich is physically present, she is mentally and emotionally
removed. She even relies on Rupert, an outsider, to tell her
whether her children are present. Lawrence takes care in
Chapter 3
describing the clothes and appearance of the characters,
which are signals for their personalities. Mrs. Crich's utter lack
of interest in the outside world is reflected in her unclean
appearance. Though Gerald is a genial, charming host, his
mother reveals to Rupert he has passed through his life
It is a late afternoon shortly after Laura Crich's wedding. Ursula
without a friend. This comment leads Rupert to speculate on
Brangwen is teaching her students about plant reproduction by
the connection between Gerald and the Cain of the Bible. In
having them sketch catkins, the phallic-shaped male flowers of
Genesis 4 Cain is cursed by God to be "a fugitive and a
certain trees. Rupert startles her when he appears in her
vagabond" throughout his life.
classroom shortly before the end of the school day. She sees
The conversation between Gerald and Rupert that closes the his face lit like fire in a beam of light through the window, and
chapter shows Rupert insisting with utter confidence Gerald he is taken by Ursula's beauty. Rupert switches on the light and
secretly longs to be murdered. This is a shocking statement instructs Ursula to have the students use crayons to draw
that nonetheless fits with the biblical connection. After simple forms in their books to represent the male and female
receiving his curse from God, Cain stated all who found him flowers.
would try to kill him. Also, in this chapter Hermione reveals her
Hermione Roddice comes into the classroom. At first she
penchant for violence when she states she would kill in
ignores Ursula and addresses Rupert exclusively. She is full of
response to someone taking her hat. This statement
sangfroid (calm composure), but her energy is strange and
contradicts her initial argument it is wrong to provoke "bad
mocking. Rupert shows Hermione the small female flowers. He
blood" between nations. In this way Lawrence instantly
explains that "from those little red bits, the nuts come; if they
associates both Hermione and Gerald with violence. He draws
receive pollen from the long danglers." She becomes strangely
Hermione as a hypocrite who will say anything for the sake of
entranced in a "mystic passion" by the red female flowers,
argument and demonstrates Gerald's support for industrial
calling them "little red flames." The class is dismissed, and

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Women in Love Study Guide Chapter Summaries 24

Hermione asks after Gudrun Brangwen, praising her art as full piqued. Rupert's rapture at her beauty and his intrusion into a
of "instinct" and "primitive passion." She urges Ursula to come lesson on flowers that are explicitly phallic and explicitly
with Gudrun to visit her at her estate, Breadalby. feminine suggest the connection between them will deepen.

Hermione then begins an impassioned rant in which she Hermione's rant against education and the intellectual
questions the value of educating children. She claims dissection of reality introduces more important themes.
knowledge is crippling to the soul and emotions and equates Hermione is a character exclusively identified with the will and
the mind with death. "Hadn't they better be animals, simple the mind. She is also empty and miserable. As a member of the
animals, crude, violent, anything, rather than this self- aristocracy, she suggests the miners' children should not
consciousness, this incapacity to be spontaneous?" she cries receive education that would rouse them to consciousness.
out. Rupert becomes angry and begins to rant against She calls into focus the divisions and the mutual contempt and
Hermione. He points out her intellect, her will, and her "lust for mistrust that characterize relationships between social
power, to know," are all she has. Her "loathsome little skull ... classes. It is attitudes such as hers that bring not the freedom
ought to be cracked like a nut" so she might achieve the she rants of, but rather maintain unequal social divisions that
spontaneous, passionate sensuality she claims to value. are necessary for the capitalist machine.

The hatred between the two lovers scares Ursula, but her own
mind is aroused by the subject matter being discussed. Rupert
tells her he seeks fulfillment in true sensuality, which he
Chapter 4
describes as dark knowledge, which exists in the blood and not
the mind. One's former self and all one's knowledge must be
"drowned in darkness" before a new self can be born, he
claims. Hermione mocks him, calling him a "satanist," and he
On a rainy Saturday morning a week later Ursula and Gudrun
retorts she is "the real devil who won't let life exist."
walk to Willey Water, the lake at Shortlands, the Criches'
The ranting ends. Hermione is energized by the competition estate. All of a sudden Gerald springs out of the boathouse
she feels with Ursula for Rupert's attention. Ursula challenges and dives into the water. Gudrun is envious of the freedom and
Rupert flirtatiously, pointing out people are already quite happiness Gerald has to be alone in the water. This freedom,
sensual. She becomes angry when Hermione cuts off Rupert's where he has a whole other world to himself, is his because he
response. When they leave, Ursula begins "bitterly weeping: is a man. Gudrun exclaims with envy. She says, "You're a man.
but whether for misery or joy, she never knew." You want to do a thing, you do it. You haven't the thousand
obstacles a woman has in front of her." Ursula, who does not
share Gudrun's desire to enter the cold, wet world, is confused
Analysis by her sister's intense reaction.

The association between love and hate established at the end As they consider the Crich home, Shortlands, Ursula mentions

of the previous chapter is now viscerally demonstrated how Gerald is busy making the latest technological

between Hermione Roddice and Rupert Birkin. Despite being improvements to the 18th-century home. The sisters agree

lovers thoroughly intermeshed in each other's lives, Hermione Gerald has a drive for progress. Ursula remarks Gerald will

and Rupert hate each other. They hate so much they cannot "have to die soon when he's made every possible improvement

restrain themselves from passionate conflict in the classroom and there will be nothing more to improve." Gudrun is shocked

of a school. They also show their distaste in front of a woman, when Ursula tells her Gerald shot and killed his brother when

Ursula, whom they barely know. This scene is the novel's first they were playing with an old gun they found in a barn. Gudrun

detailed depiction of a romance between man and woman. In says this is worse and more frightening than murder because it

the midst of this severe, unhappy, imprisoning dysfunction, is a pure accident without any intention behind it. Ursula

Rupert describes to Ursula a process of death and rebirth he doesn't agree. She says the boys playing with the gun and

thinks will fulfill him. It is a theory, but Rupert, always a firm deciding to pull the trigger suggests an "unconscious will" or

believer in his own ideas, states it as fact. Ursula's interest is "primitive desire for killing."

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Women in Love Study Guide Chapter Summaries 25

Gudrun and Ursula encounter Hermione Roddice and Laura wishes, without the restraint of aristocratic custom. Again, the
Crich across the field and help them lift a gate they are idea Hermione is free or advantaged is undermined
struggling to move. The barely disguised insincerity with which symbolically by her inability to open a gate. This suggests she
Hermione breezily addresses the sisters angers Ursula, who is trapped within herself. That Ursula and Gudrun are able to
complains to Gudrun she finds Hermione impudent, or lift the gate Hermione cannot suggests the greater freedom is
disrespectful. Gudrun agrees: "One knows these women are theirs. They are of the middle class and therefore can move
impudent—these free women who have emancipated freely between the commoners, the eccentrics, and even parts
themselves from the aristocracy." Ursula exclaims Hermione of the aristocracy. They can do this without the yoke of prior
would be lucky to have her and Gudrun visit, given their beauty class indoctrination Hermione has supposedly thrown off. Her
and intelligence. Gudrun remarks the fashionable way to carry "impudence," or rude condescension, also suggests she retains
oneself is to pretend to be common, a pretense the sisters the social elitism of the aristocracy within herself. Her habit of
mock. Ursula says she feels "like a swan among geese" and always speaking in a singsong tone suggests she is trapped in
doesn't care to win the admiration of others. Gudrun replies an inauthentic performance of herself.
that "the only thing to do is to despise them all." As she waits
for the working week to begin, Ursula questions why so much The chapter closes with Gudrun and Ursula each voicing their

of her life is spent waiting. She says she knows within her that own idea of freedom. Ursula's idea is to be her exuberant,

"her life [is] like a shoot that is growing steadily but which has beautiful self (encapsulated in the image of the swan) without

not yet come above ground." regard for the opinions of others. Gudrun's idea of freedom is,
by contrast, a freedom born of universal hatred. Gudrun's
hatred is an inversion of Ursula's self-love strategy. It suggests
Analysis Gudrun's freedom is at some level an illusion, as her price for
"freedom" is a bondage to the dark energy of hatred.
In this chapter the Brangwen sisters observe two people who
are, at least seemingly, freer than they are. It is Gudrun who is
resentful of Gerald's freedom, which is symbolized by his ability Chapter 5
to enact his will without obstacles by diving into Willey Water.
His freedom is a freedom of the body and of space, a freedom
of singleness and solitude. Gudrun's active, more physical Summary
inclinations, as well as her tendency to jump and see where
she lands, as she describes in Chapter 1, link her to Gerald. Around the same time as Ursula and Gudrun's walk at Willey
Water, Rupert Birkin runs into Gerald Crich at the train station.
The sisters discuss Gerald's childhood tragedy, wherein he
Both men are traveling to London, so they decide to travel
killed his brother during their play with an old, forgotten gun.
together. They discuss an editorial Gerald has just read in the
Their discussion suggests his freedom might not be as perfect,
newspaper. It argues that "there must arise a man who will give
nor as perfectly correlated to his male privilege, as Gudrun
new values to things, give us new truths, a new attitude to life."
imagines. Indeed, in the debate over accident versus
The article says only this new man will allow English society to
unconscious desire, Gudrun's support is for the existence of
survive in the coming years. Rupert thinks society is rotten and
pure, horrifying accident. She seems to be admitting chaos
cannot be reformed. Rather, it must be completely destroyed
rules the universe and can alter any life at any moment with an
because its aims are wrong. People seek to value themselves
unspeakable burden such as Gerald's. However, this does not
in the eyes of others, and they do so by striving for material
dampen her resentment of his masculine personal liberty, as
comforts and achievements. This striving "cover[s] the earth
she will make clear in following chapters.
with foulness" and reduces people to the level of insects, who

It is Hermione who rubs Ursula the wrong way, and her work mindlessly and without meaning.

freedom is linked to class. She has "emancipated herself from

Rupert asks Gerald what he lives for. When Gerald replies he
the aristocracy." She supposedly possesses the freedom of
lives to work, Rupert points out his running of the coal mines
economic means of her aristocratic background. She also
amounts to nothing more than a meaningless accumulation of
holds a worldview that allows her to comport herself as she

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Women in Love Study Guide Chapter Summaries 26

material comforts. He tells Gerald he hates him and asks if Rupert correlates Gerald's pragmatism with the very heart of
Gerald ever hates him in turn "with mystic hate." Gerald gives the country's plague of rottenness and meaninglessness. Then
an ambiguous, evasive answer. Rupert begins to describe the Rupert claims the moral high ground by citing the quest for a
thing he thinks will give his own life meaning: a "really pure love that is more perfect than the old love as his driving force.
single activity" such as love. Rupert envisions this love with a Having expressed an idealism regarding love, Rupert
woman, which he describes as a "sort of ultimate marriage." It undermines his own position. He states, for the second time,
will give his life meaning and purpose, as the old ways are his hope for and belief in the necessary destruction of the
useless and God doesn't exist. human race. He displays a nihilism, or lack of values, far
beyond what he attributes to Gerald's industrial activities.
The men fall silent. The narrator describes how Gerald is However, he fails to see his own self-contradiction. Gerald
compelled by his stimulating conversations with Rupert. But he seems to pick up on this, as the narrator comments on his
does not take Rupert seriously because he feels his own failure to take Rupert seriously. This is also communicated by
knowledge is "harder and more durable" than Rupert's. Rupert Gerald's changing the subject to the practical matter of their
is aware of this, and it makes him feel disconnected from evening plans.
Gerald, despite his attraction to him. Rupert speaks again,
saying humanity is "but just one expression of the
incomprehensible" that has gone rotten by separating itself
from its source. He expresses his hope humanity be
Chapter 6
eradicated. Gerald ignores this and asks him about his plans in
London. The two agree to meet that evening at the
Pompadour, a café frequented by artists and other
unconventional types. As they arrive in London, a familiar
A few hours later Gerald Crich and Rupert Birkin meet at the
despair overtakes Rupert, and he tells Gerald being there "is
Pompadour, a café full of smoke and mirrors. Rupert
real death."
introduces Gerald to a beautiful young girl, Miss Darrington,
who is called the Pussum. An artist's model, she has "large

Analysis dark hostile eyes," an Egyptian look, and an affected speech

impediment. Gerald is immediately attracted to her "grossness

Rupert and Gerald move from the comparative pastoral of of spirit" and his sense he could destroy her. Her interest in

Willey Green to the urban nightmare of London. Their physical Gerald is roused when Rupert explains Gerald has fought in a

movement through England correlates with the content of the war, explored the Amazon, and runs a coal-mining operation.

issue that spurs their conversation. This issue is the problem of

Julius Halliday enters the room and reacts with fear upon
the survival of England given its current state of corruption and
seeing the Pussum. She gazes at him with "an unfathomable
decay. This issue is presented as political and public by its
hell of knowledge, and a certain impotence." She assures him
inclusion in the newspaper. The remedy called for is a savior,
she wants nothing from him and she won't hurt him. She turns
ambiguously political or spiritual, who will install new values
her attention back to Gerald, who relishes her "slave-like
where the old ones have crumbled away. Rupert quickly takes
attention" that seems to need "the experience of his male
this political context and shifts it into a personal context as he
asks Gerald to reveal what gives his life meaning. Gerald's
reply is he lives to work the coal mines under his control. This Privately Gerald inquires about her living circumstances. She
indicates he is part of the very industrial machine that has explains she is pregnant with a child she does not want by
helped to create the vacuum of meaning in the country. The Julius. Julius has tried to force her to live isolated in the
declaration of "mystic hate" Rupert offers in return suggests country yet also claims to be persecuted and burdened by her.
more of a metaphorical opposition to the position Gerald has She tells Gerald she wants oysters and begins eating them
just stated. It doesn't indicate the personal hatred that often despite Julius's objections. Gerald reflects Julius relishes the
consumes the characters. It also suggests Rupert's alliance to state of terror she puts him in. Gerald then orders champagne
the "mystical" or immaterial and Gerald's contrasting alliance to and watches the Pussum eat and drink. Halliday becomes
the material world.

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Women in Love Study Guide Chapter Summaries 27

drunk on a single glass. Gerald notes her attention to him is slave-like, despite her
fearless aggression toward the other men. Her request for
The Pussum remarks her one fear is black beetles. Gerald asks oysters and champagne signify her sexuality, which she wears
whether the fear is actual or metaphysical. A young man freely. She is juxtaposed against Gerald's contemplation of the
comes to the table and mocks her for claiming to not fear carving of the African woman in childbirth in Halliday's flat. This
blood. Her response is to cut his hand open with her knife. The suggests the knowledge of "extreme physical sensation"
man overexaggerates his composure, but Julius loses his and beyond the mind's limits is the province of the Pussum. She is
has to be led away by a young Russian, Maxim. The Pussum herself pregnant with a child she did not will but rather
remarks to Gerald all the men around her are cowards, being received and created within herself, free of her mind's
either scared of her or of the opinions of others. interference. She has an unconscious allegiance to the dark
forces of creation (and violent destruction). The Pussum
They all load into a taxi and ride to Halliday's flat. Next to the
seems to embody the utterly sensual knowledge that pale,
Pussum, Gerald feels her energy, "concentrated at the base of
theoretical Rupert posited as the means of fulfillment in
the spine like a fearful source of power," flowing into him.
Chapter 3.
Back at Halliday's flat, the group is greeted at the door by
Hasan, the Hindu manservant whom Halliday explains they
found starving in the street. Gerald, viewing the man's English Chapter 7
dress in contrast with the oblivious grin on his face, notes he is
"half a savage." As Halliday berates Hasan for requesting
money for underwear, Gerald's attention falls on a wooden Summary
African carving of a woman in childbirth. Its facial expression
suggests "the extreme of physical sensation, beyond the limits The next morning, Gerald wakes and leaves the Pussum
of mental consciousness." Tea is served, and Gerald sleeping. He is surprised to find Halliday and Maxim sitting
contemplates the manner in which he will secure sex with the naked in front of the fire. He finds himself admiring the men's
Pussum here in Halliday's house. But when the sleeping beauty and questioning why such admiration should diminish
arrangements are made, it is implicitly understood the Pussum him as a man. Halliday explains he thinks life would be
will be with Gerald. completely different if he could always go without clothes. He
says going without clothes means one would feel rather than
merely see things. Gerald is skeptical.
Rupert appears, and Gerald asks his opinion on the African
The Pussum represents another kind of woman, spiritually, carving of the woman giving birth. Rupert says it is art because
sexually, and practically. She provides a foil against which the it represents a complete truth. The naked men crowd around
other female characters may be considered. The Pussum must to contemplate the statue. Gerald feels a deep connection with
be considered in the light of her bohemian milieu and in terms the statue, which he connects with the Pussum. Returning to
of the symbols and imagery that accompany her appearance. the bedroom, Gerald thinks the Pussum is a slave and subject
She is described as Egyptian in appearance. While her speech to his will, lacking her own.
is impeded, her eyes and her physicality are darkly powerful.
She announces her only fear is the black beetle. She clearly Gerald remains at Halliday's flat for several more nights, and

has no scientific knowledge of the insect but nonetheless the group maintains its routine of nights at the Pompadour. The

possesses a certainty it is the bringer of death. The scarab group grows more weary and disconnected from one another

beetle was a potent spiritual symbol for the ancient Egyptians. until the fourth night when Halliday forces Gerald into a

Such beetles are noted for their habit of rolling balls of dung, physical altercation at the Pompadour. After this, Gerald leaves

containing their eggs, across the ground. This passage mimics London.

the passage of the sun across the sky. The Egyptians

associated the beetle with the rebirth out of the dark
underworld (and therefore with the sun gods).

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Women in Love Study Guide Chapter Summaries 28

own wit quite amusing. Hermione's politician brother

Analysis Alexander, whom she calls Salsie, arrives after lunch with
Gerald Crich. Then the conversation shifts to the topic of
The chapter's title, Fetish, is a word whose double meaning
education. Hermione launches into a rhapsody about the
unites two elements Lawrence engages with throughout the
necessity of education and the freedom brought by
novel. A fetish, in common sense, refers to a sexual response
knowledge. Rupert is furious and challenges her vague claim
to a specific stimulus, often a stimulus that is considered
her knowledge of the stars has left her feeling "unbounded."
abnormal or uncommon. Here, Gerald's appreciation of the
other men's nudity would have certainly been labeled a fetish in After lunch, Hermione corrals the other guests into following
Lawrence's time. The second meaning of fetish is an object her on a walk through the park. She mocks Rupert when he
revered or worshiped as the home of a spirit or for its magical refuses to come, calling him a "little boy." Ursula is resentful,
powers. The wooden carving in Halliday's apartment is there as and Gudrun is detached, as they follow Hermione along her
decoration. In its original context and also personally to Rupert chosen route and listen to her commentary on the
and Gerald, it is a powerful object. It is matter infused with surroundings. When the walk is over, Hermione stands outside
"complete truth" that Gerald connects with as he rarely the house and repeatedly calls for Rupert like one would a dog.
connects with actual individuals. Gerald instantly recognizes it She finally goes up to his room.
and the Pussum refer to each other. They are both Other, of a
different spiritual race than Gerald, and they both have their He sits, drawing a copy of a Chinese picture of geese. Her
identities borne upon them through their physicality. Their violent will, which thrives on conflict with and hatred for him,
identities result from this way rather than choosing with their demands to know what Rupert gains from copying the drawing.
will, as Gerald does. His answer destroys her because it presents her with a mode
of understanding she cannot comprehend with her only
weapon, her mind. Rupert tells her in copying the drawing, he
Chapter 8 understands the mysteries central to the existence of the
geese. Hermione, unable to grasp this, feels herself dissolving.

At dinner Hermione is silent and ghostlike among her brightly

Summary dressed guests. After dinner, Hermione is overcome with a
sickness she tries to push away by ordering her guests to put
It is almost summertime when Ursula and Gudrun Brangwen
on a music and dance performance. In the style of Russian
visit Hermione at her large country estate, Breadalby.
opera, Ursula, Gudrun, and the Italian contessa perform the
Hermione maintains a roster of her own guests there. Her
biblical story of Ruth, Naomi, and Orpah. It is a story of women
brother, a member of Parliament, is there when not attending
comforting and loving each other through the loss of the men.
to his duties. Gudrun, who maintains a critical attitude,
Alexander plays piano. Ursula and Gudrun dance with such
describes the place as being "as final as an old aquatint."
profound feeling and self-display Gerald is utterly compelled by
Wearing a dirty old dress, Hermione greets the sisters outside,
Gudrun's "female, subterranean recklessness and mockery."
examining them at length, instead of asking them in at once.
Rupert, seeing Ursula's "brilliant frustration" and "dangerous
Although Ursula dislikes Hermione, she likes the feeling of
power," realizes "she is his future." In the dancing Hermione
being at Breadalby. It is described as a separate place
calls for next, Rupert dances, separate and purely joyful. The
"shutting out the present, enclosing the delightful, precious
contessa comments Rupert is "not a man" but "a chameleon, a
past, trees and deer and silence, like a dream."
creature of change." Seized by this idea, Hermione's hatred for
Rupert grows so intense it "shattered her and broke her down."
At lunch outside on the lawn, the guests engage in predictable,
The narrator says Hermione "suffered sheer dissolution like a
dull talk focused on clever wordplay and vaguely intellectual
corpse ... within her, body and soul."
declarations. Ursula and Gudrun observe the "wearying"
interactions, which include Hermione's purposeful mockery of
Afterward, Gerald comes to Rupert's room seeking information
Rupert Birkin to the others. Among the guests are several
about Gudrun. Rupert explains Gudrun is a talented but
attractive young women of various nationality. There is also a
restless artist who lacks the focus to succeed at her craft.
middle-aged "learned, dry Baronet," Sir Joshua, who finds his

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Women in Love Study Guide Chapter Summaries 29

Gerald then describes the end of his visit with Halliday's crowd. plants, his "marriage place." Thinking he is perhaps mad, he
Rupert says Halliday is insane, obsessed with the spiritual as rejoices in it, preferring it to the "repulsive" and "old sanity of
well as the obscene, and his relationship with the Pussum the world." As a headache rises, he begins to feel self-
satisfies both obsessions. Saying he finds her ultimately conscious for his sensual experience among the plants. He
repulsive, Gerald becomes preoccupied with not having paid sends Hermione a note, pardoning her and saying he won't be
the Pussum. Rupert grows irritated, claiming it doesn't matter back at Breadalby right away. As he travels home, he is
and he doesn't care. possessed with a painful sickness he submits to for the next
two weeks.
The following morning, Gerald asks Rupert to tell him what he
must do in life. Rupert suggests marriage. Hostility arises
between them as Gerald tells Rupert his search for meaning Analysis
and fulfillment in marriage will disappoint him. Watching the
guests interact in their customary way, Rupert feels he is In this chapter the four primary characters converge at
watching a game of chess that has been repeated for Breadalby. There, Hermione Roddice's actions work strangely
hundreds of years. to create rupture and union among the characters that will
guide the plot for the rest of the novel. Symbolically, Ursula,
At Hermione's request, all go outside for a swim. Gudrun and
Gudrun, Rupert, and Gerald journey to a place that represents
Ursula refuse and stand back contemplating the happy
the past so much it looks like an old aquatint. They fall under
swimmers, imagining them as animals. Gerald repeatedly
the influence of a personality who exemplifies the old values
presses Gudrun as to why she refused the swim. When she
that trouble Rupert and threaten the continuation of society.
finally says it was because she "didn't like the crowd," he feels
The decay of the past is further represented in Hermione by
himself being bound to her.
her stained, solid clothing. From this journey into the embodied
During a discussion of what might happen following the past, the four characters emerge with something new with
collapse of society, Sir Joshua speaks of the "social equality of which to make the future. Specifically, the unspoken bonds
man." Gerald counters him, saying humankind is a machine and between Ursula and Rupert and between Gudrun and Gerald
each person a piece, fit for a task. Hermione says the struggle are set in place. Rupert induces a temporary death within
for power would cease if humans realized they are all "equal in Hermione's will and then survives Hermione's attempt on his
spirit." Rupert rebukes her the opposite is true. "We are all life. From there he is regenerated and reborn in a new sensual
abstractly or mathematically equal, if you like ... But spiritually, communion with the vegetable world. This seems to free him
there is pure difference and neither equality nor inequality from his involvement with the world of people, including the
counts," he says." This, says Rupert, is the proper foundation of sickness he shared with Hermione in their relationship.
a state.

Later, feeling regret at having been so harsh with Hermione, Chapter 9

Rupert goes into her room, intending to apologize. She is
writing letters, and he sits down to read. Feeling she must kill
him or die herself, she feels electric shocks of "terrible
voluptuous thrill" anticipating the "consummation of voluptuous
ecstasy" she's waited for. Picking up a paperweight, she tries
Walking home from school one afternoon, Ursula and Gudrun
to hit him as hard as she can on the head. He blocks her blow
Brangwen are stopped at a railroad crossing to wait for an
and tells her, "No you don't ... I don't let you." He walks out,
approaching train. Gerald Crich rides up on a beautiful red
saying, "It isn't I who will die. You hear?" Hermione naps and,
Arab mare and waits. As the hellish vibration intensifies, the
upon waking, feels the moral perfection of her action.
girls watch Gerald force his terrified horse to endure the
experience, despite its obvious terror and desire to flee. The
Rupert walks out toward the hills, takes off his clothes, and lies
horse bleeds with Gerald's effort to hold her. The horrific
down in a patch of primroses. He begins to let his body feel the
display of cruelty makes Ursula "frantic with hatred." She
touch of different plants. He feels happy and decides she
understands Gerald is a fool and a bully. Gudrun is mesmerized
doesn't matter to him, for he belongs here alone with the

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with horror and then passes through dizziness into a characterizes the place. Gerald has "pride" in his
dissociative state of coldness. She sees the scene "like a vision destructiveness and a lack of empathy for his horse, indicating
isolated in eternity." Ursula cries out for Gerald to let the horse moral corruption and suggesting some sort of downfall to
go, but her demand is drowned by the noise. Afterward, she come.
expresses her indignation to the one-legged gatekeeper. The
man is reluctant to speak against Gerald but says Gerald is not
at all like his father. Gudrun flings open the crossing gate at the Chapter 10
first opportunity and screeches at Gerald, "I should think you're

The sisters walk on through the miners' district. Two miners

stand watching, and the older one calls out to her. She realizes,
One morning Ursula and Gudrun walk to Willey Water. Ursula
in her hatred, that "this was the world of powerful, underworld
goes off and leaves Gudrun sketching marsh plants on a bank.
men who spent most of their time in darkness." Nevertheless,
she finds a nostalgia for the place pulling her into town in the
She is sighted by Hermione and Gerald, who row their boat
evenings. There she walks like a common girl, often with her
over. Gudrun longs to see him, feeling him as her master and
friend, the electrician Palmer. Sometimes, she grows angry
refuge from the dark, dirty colliers' world. As he approaches,
with the feeling she is becoming even more a part of the place.
her consciousness dims and her blood slows. Hermione insists
She gets ready to leave but then goes into the forest and finds
on looking at Gudrun's sketches, despite her not wishing to
"the spell was beginning to work again."
share them, so Gerald reaches out to take the book from
Gudrun. At this moment, he remembers she is the one who
called him proud at the railroad crossing. A strong,
Analysis unconscious feeling passes between them.

The final line of this chapter describes how Gudrun's flight Hermione takes the book, but moments later Gerald tries to
from Beldover is time and again arrested by the working of the grab it from her to look himself. An unconscious "storm of
spell. This suggests the mines and the miners have an energy revulsion" against him makes Hermione unsteady. The book
or will that exerts a force capable of influencing each part. falls into the water. Gerald obeys Hermione's order to retrieve
Gudrun seems to be held in place in Beldover, with some force the soggy book. Hermione makes an extended show of
greater than herself undermining her inclination and ability to apology that furthers Gudrun's exasperation. Gudrun says the
flee. The narrator describes it in this way: "The same secret matter is trivial, but any fault is Gerald's. With these words, a
seemed to be working in the souls of all alike." The narrator bond is established firmly between Gudrun and Gerald. They
continues, "All had a secret sense of power, and of see they are alike and there is a "diabolic freemasonry"
inexpressible destructiveness, and of fatal half-heartedness, a between them. Gerald and Hermione row away, but Gerald is
sort of rottenness in the will." She is in the position of Gerald's so bound to Gudrun Hermione's orders about how to steer go
horse. She is forced by a stronger will to stand and bear the unheeded.
horror that seems to be approaching externally. But the horror
is, in fact, inseparable from her very existence.
Gerald's behavior with his horse is an illustration of the power
of man over animals. The sexual undertones of Lawrence's
In this chapter a small, brief incident creates several power
depiction of the incident also suggest a similar power dynamic
shifts. The bond that was primed in Chapter 8 when Gudrun
of man dominating woman. Gerald envelops the horse as if she
performed in the ballet and danced with Gerald at Breadalby is
were part of his own body. The blood he draws with his spurs
firmly established.
is suggestive enough of sexual violence Gudrun dissociates
and becomes distant upon observing it. As the head of the The minimal action—the sketchbook falling into Willey Water
mines that drive the town, Gerald is the most concentrated and Gerald's subsequent retrieval of it—is loaded with
expression of the power, destructiveness, rottenness that symbolism. Gudrun's sketching of the marsh plants rising up

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Women in Love Study Guide Chapter Summaries 31

from the bottom of the lake recalls Rupert's sketching of the Rupert's personality. She realizes that "in spite of himself, he
Chinese picture of geese in Chapter 8. The narrator would have to be trying to save the world." She hates this
establishes the state produced by this artistic activity is one of because she wants him to herself.
vivid, sensuous knowing, not mere external observation. The
narrator says, "But she could feel their turgid fleshy structure Ursula insists Rupert must, nonetheless, "believe in individual

as in a sensuous vision. She knew how they rose out of the love"; Rupert counters love is merely one emotion among

mud, she knew how they thrust out from themselves, how they many. She silences Rupert by arguing if he really hated

stood stiff and succulent against the air." humanity, as he says, then he would withdraw from it. Ursula's
hatred for him grows because she dislikes his "certain priggish
Gudrun is identified with these mud flowers, down in the low, Sunday-school stiffness," yet she is simultaneously attracted
dark underwater. When Gerald is approaching Gudrun, she to him. They argue about the meaning of the word love until
senses he has a quality "like the electricity of the sky." This Ursula moves away and Rupert begins "unconsciously" picking
phrase establishes Gerald as higher than Gudrun. But Gerald is daisies and letting them float away. Watching the flowers in
soon forced to lower himself into the water while Gudrun their "slow, slow Dervish dance," Ursula feels as if "some sort
stands on the bank and observes his upturned loins. The very of control was being put on her." They row back to the
act of his bending over makes him feel self-conscious and mainland, and Ursula nearly cries with mystic wonder at the
vulnerable. This is not the first time Gudrun has watched sight of the daisies on the pond.
Gerald enter Willey Water. The first time, she envied his
freedom. Now she watches him as if ruling over him. When Rupert tells Ursula he's living at the millhouse and plans to

Gudrun dismisses the matter as trivial, it is with an intention assume a solitary, self-sufficient lifestyle. Assuring her his

and will to enfold Gerald into her power. As Gerald rows away, relationship with Hermione Roddice is over, Rupert tells her to

he is bound to Gudrun and pays no attention to Hermione. get the "freedom together" he ultimately wants, he must "throw
everything away." They hear Gerald Crich and Hermione
Roddice arrive to see his rooms, and Rupert convinces Ursula

Chapter 11 to join them.

This chapter follows Ursula's perspective as she challenges
Having left Gudrun sketching on the banks of Willey Water, Rupert's beliefs. Ursula compares him unfavorably to a
Ursula finds Rupert fixing a punt, or small wooden boat, at the preacher. This is not something Rupert would be flattered by,
millpond. They row out to an island in the middle of the pond. nor is it something he would admit about himself. Yet, Ursula is
They haven't seen one another since Breadalby. Rupert has not the only character in the book to take note of this
been ill—a result of his failure to live correctly, he says. Ursula preacherly aspect of Rupert's personality. Indeed, Rupert uses
claims to be happy but is, like Rupert, in search of "a way out." a number of biblical references in this chapter to support his
Anxiously, she folds paper boats out of chocolate wrappers. argument for humanity's rottenness. He calls people "dead sea
Rupert begins to explain his beliefs, while Ursula questions and fruit," which literally refers to a tree infested with galls that
challenges him. grows in the Middle East. It also conveys the idea of something
that looks good but is disappointing. Rupert's references to
Rupert claims to loathe humankind and himself. He compares
love and charity are "the greatest" echo of the book of
humanity to a bush covered in "dry-rotten" fruit—the individuals
Corinthians in the New Testament of the Bible. His words—"by
who refuse to "fall off the tree when they're ripe." Humanity is
their works ye shall know them"—echo the New Testament
"a tree of lies," insisting upon love's supremacy while really
book of Matthew.
cherishing hate. Rupert presents his vision of a world that has
been cleaned of humanity. It is "just uninterrupted grass, and a Rupert's use of biblical ideas and his longing for an apocalypse
hare sitting up," where something better might arise. Ursula that will erase humanity show his foundation is in Christianity.
contemplates the mixture of fury, amusement, and tolerance in Ursula's sensing of his "Salvator Mundi" (savior of the world)

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Women in Love Study Guide Chapter Summaries 32

tendencies point to a Christian understanding of the world. It doesn't want anything from her but resigns himself to her will.
mirrors the Christian story of creation, degradation and decay,
and salvation. Yet, Rupert is made more complex by the After the measuring is done, the four move outside to take tea.

fundamental contradictions Ursula senses in his personality. Ursula tells Gerald how she hated him the other day for his

He is angry but also amused. He claims to loathe people, but mistreatment of the horse at the railroad crossing. This begins

actually—in his work in education and in his relentless a discussion about the natural order between humans and

philosophizing—is bent on saving them. These contradictions in animals, with Ursula advocating for humane treatment of

Rupert—hateful anger paired with a desire to help—create animals. Gerald claims the horse exists to serve him and its will

contradictory feelings in Ursula: hatred and attraction. must submit to his superior will. Hermione claims to have
"made herself right" using her own willpower. Rupert tells
Just as Ursula's contradictory emotions mirror Rupert's internal Gerald a horse, unlike "human beings," has two contradictory
contradictions, the chapter's setting mirrors the form of their wills. One wants to submit to "human power," but the other
conversation. Their passage by boat from shore to island is seeks freedom. He continues, "And woman is the same as
symbolic of a much longer, more significant journey. This horses: two wills act in opposition inside her. With one will, she
journey takes place not in space, but in their conversation wants to subject herself utterly. With the other she wants to
ranging from the inward and personal to the cosmological. bolt and pitch her rider to perdition." Ursula scoffs, saying her
There is also a mirroring of boat imagery. Besides the boat will wants freedom.
they travel in, Ursula makes paper boats. Rupert sends daisies
off onto the water like boats. The daisy boats convey the unity Hermione and Ursula go outside to walk and talk, and a sense

of humanity and nature, and this union strikes Ursula deeply of connection arises. They share the feeling intellectual

and seems to put a spell on her. Their movement in a spinning analysis of the world destroys its "beauty" and "true holiness,"

"Dervish dance" is a reference to the traditional dances of and that "something must be left to the Lord." Agreeing, they

Sufism, a branch of Islam. The Sufi dervish dance is a means of begin to distrust each other and return to the men. Inside,

achieving ecstatic union with everything through the Ursula refuses to join the group for dinner. She tells Gerald

participation of one's body. In contrast with Rupert's man's supremacy over animals does not give him "the right to

philosophizing, Ursula responds deeply to these daisy boats. violate the feelings of the inferior creation." On her way home,

This suggests that "the way out" they both seek involves Ursula attempts to persuade herself not to dislike Hermione.

ecstatic, sensuous participation with the nonhuman world. Ursula realizes she and Rupert are going to fight each other,
and their conflict will bring either "death ... or new life."

Chapter 12 Analysis
This chapter develops the theme of the will as a source of
Summary power. It places this idea in the context of male-female
relations and the relationship between humanity and other
Ursula Brangwen and Rupert Birkin join Hermione Roddice and creatures. Rupert's argument comparing horses to women
Gerald Crich inside the millhouse. The kitchen is full of caged implies the existence of a natural order based on will, where
canaries who sing wildly as if conversing until Mrs. Salmon men are at the top of the hierarchy. Below men are women and
simulates night by covering their cages. Ursula is astounded: other animals of inferior, divided will. Rupert claims human
"How absurd! Really, how can anyone have any respect for a beings have a complete will, unlike horses. He says the wills of
creature that is so easily taken in?" horses and women are the same, implying women are not
complete human beings, like men. Ursula directly challenges
The task of the afternoon is to measure Rupert's rooms so
this offensive, misogynistic idea. However, her tone is mocking,
they can be furnished. Hermione acts as if she is in charge of it
almost flirtatious, and the men ignore her. Hermione simply
all and addresses Rupert with flirtatious concern. Rupert
zones out.
submits to her will as Gerald and Ursula stand by, annoyed.
Hermione insists upon giving Rupert a carpet for his room. He However, the earlier events in the chapter suggest a

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discrepancy between Rupert's intellectual position and reality. the female cat "a pure stable equilibrium, a transcendent and
In Chapter 11 he told Ursula the relationship between him and abiding rapport with the single male." Without Mino, the female
Hermione was finished. Now, however, he allows her into his cat is "a mere stray, a fluffy sporadic bit of chaos."
home. He submits to her control of the situation and her
insistence he furnish his room with her carpet. Fearful of her Ursula seizes on Rupert's comment that "Adam kept Eve in the

anger, he "obey[s] her subduedly." In this battle of wills, Rupert indestructible paradise" by keeping her for himself, "like a star

is the one "defeated": the carpet is the symbol of Hermione's in its orbit." She insists Rupert has revealed his true desire, not

superior will. Hermione does not need to challenge his for an equal, but for a woman who will be his "satellite."

argument like Ursula does. She knows she has Rupert under
The landlady, Mrs. Daykin, calls them to tea. Rupert insists his
her control. Undermined by the actual situation, Rupert's
ideal relationship is not like a satellite but consists of "two
argument about horses and women seems like defensive,
equal stars" balanced together. Ursula refuses to accept he
hypocritical, intellectual bluster. Ursula recognizes she and
meant this and changes the subject by complimenting his
Rupert are bound together as opponents in a shared search
dishware and his landlady, who performs many of a wife's
for truth. Their fight will either destroy their lust for truth (and
duties. Rupert responds a landlady does not fulfill the need for
connection) or it will bring them together, to that which they
the "ultimate union ... between man and woman," the glue
holding the world together. Ursula says this sounds like the
opposite of love, which is freedom, and accuses Rupert of
insincerity. When he insists Ursula wants a love of egoism,
Chapter 13 pride, and submission, she claims his cockiness proves he is

Summary Rupert asks Ursula to tell him about her life. Her "wild gaiety"
and capacity for "abandon" make him nervous. Ursula insists
Some days later, Ursula goes to visit Rupert Birkin. He tells her Rupert tell her he loves her. Finally, he concedes, embracing
he wants a relationship with her, but not a conventional love. her and professing his love.
He wants something "final and infallible" that is "beyond love,
beyond any emotional relationship." Ursula doesn't understand
what he means, and when he denies the existence of love, Analysis
Ursula moves to leave. Instead, she asks, "If there is no love,
what is there?" Rupert explains there is a place where they can In this chapter Rupert Birkin further develops his ideas about
meet as "two stark, unknown beings, two utterly strange the relationship between the sexes and about love, engaging in
creatures." Ursula persists in trying to relate his words to love, a debate with Ursula Brangwen. The word love is the lightning
asking whether he doesn't find her good-looking. Rupert rod around which their fight centers. Ursula champions the
explains he doesn't want to see her or hear her, and she word, here defining it as a "freedom" that "includes everything."
mockingly calls him conceited. Rupert explains he wants "a For Ursula, if love does not exist, nothing does. Rupert defines
strange conjunction with" her, "an equilibrium, a pure balance the word as an emotion that serves the individual ego. Rupert
of two single beings—as the stars balance each other." is engaged in a deep struggle to find a new type of relationship
that is beyond personality. It is a relationship in which the
They watch Rupert's male cat, Mino, approach a young female physical and the spiritual become one through the meeting of
stray and swat her until she adopts a pose of submission. two equals.
Ursula is offended Mino is bullying the little cat. Rupert says
Mino is justified. The cat is merely "insisting to the poor stray Rupert insists upon the equality of the man and woman in his
that she shall acknowledge him as a sort of fate, her own fate." ideal. However, he uses the interaction between the male cat
Ursula complains the unjustified "assumption of male Mino and the female stray to argue for a natural order of male
superiority" bothers her. She compares Mino's behavior with dominance. In Rupert's argument, the male's superior will
the wildcat to Gerald Crich's treatment of his horse as the train brings the female into submission. This has the effect of
approached. Rupert claims Mino is attempting to create with transforming the female but not the male. She is nothing but a

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Women in Love Study Guide Chapter Summaries 34

meaningless "bit of chaos" without him. By subduing the lets loose a flood of "black emotion" in Gerald. Gudrun feels "an
female, the male creates a state of order and balance. This unconquerable desire for deep violence against him." She tells
argument contradicts his other argument about two equals him she will strike the last blow between them. As they return
meeting each other beyond ego, pride, and submission. The to Ursula and Rupert, Gerald tells Gudrun he is in love with her.
example shows there are holes in Rupert's thinking. Ursula's Rupert has been explaining to Ursula the "dark river of
sharpness continually impresses and even scares Rupert. She dissolution" is the true reality.
immediately picks up on these inconsistencies and criticizes
Rupert for them. Rupert has smug certainty he is correct and They light the boat lanterns and row back toward the party.

understands Ursula's thoughts better than she herself does. Gudrun rows Gerald in one boat, and Rupert rows Ursula in the

However, it is Ursula who wins this round of the fight. The other. As she rows, Gudrun relishes having Gerald at her

chapter ends with Rupert submitting to her, admitting he loves mercy, to herself. Gerald drops his guard. He allows himself to

her. merge into a perfect state of "oneness with the whole" for the
"first time in his life." But shouts of his sister Winifred alert him
his sister Diana has fallen into the lake. Gudrun rows as fast as

Chapter 14 she can to the boat launch. Captain Rockley informs Gerald a
young man, Doctor Brindell, has jumped in the water to rescue
Diana. Gerald jumps into the water to join the search, thus far
fruitless. Gudrun remains in the boat, terrified of the water yet
Summary drawn to it, afraid Gerald is gone forever. When he climbs back
in the boat, Gudrun realizes Gerald is her destiny. He dives
Ursula and Gudrun walk to Shortlands with their parents to
once more, and Gudrun is enveloped in horrible isolation. When
attend Thomas Crich's annual party on the lake, Willey Water.
he finally emerges, Gerald is "defeated ... like an animal that is
Mr. and Mrs. Brangwen are exasperated and critical of their
suffering." Ignoring Gerald's protests, Rupert rows back to the
daughters' dress and manner. They are greeted by Rupert
launch, where Thomas Crich tells Gerald to return to the
Birkin and Gerald Crich, the latter of whom has a hurt and
house. Gerald tells his father, who is still hopeful, that he is
bandaged hand.
responsible for the certain deaths. As Gerald leaves, he tells
Gudrun his family is cursed with an inability to right what has
Gerald offers Ursula and Gudrun a ride on the next boat to
gone wrong.
have tea on the lake. They refuse and ask for their own
rowboat instead to explore the land farther down. Gerald is
Ursula and Rupert go to the sluice to drain the lake. The
skeptical, but they reassure him of their skill at rowing and he
horrible noise of the water escaping makes Ursula feel as if
lets them take his canoe. He explains his hand is bandaged
she must "struggle for her life." Rupert tells her it doesn't
because some machinery crushed his fingers. The sisters row,
matter Diana Crich has died. He would like to die himself
dismount at a hidden bank near a stream, remove their clothes,
because the life they live "is ... the life that belongs to death."
and swim "silently and blissfully." They are both happy and
He wants "love that is like sleep, like being born again,
"quite complete in a perfect world of their own." Ursula begins
vulnerable as a baby that just comes into the world." They walk
to sing. Gudrun feels she is "outside of life, an onlooker, whilst
toward Beldover. Ursula returns Rupert's tender kisses with
Ursula was a partaker." They notice a herd of cattle watching
hard passion. Rupert feels himself responding passionately. He
them. Gudrun, emboldened by a "strange passion," dances
doesn't want that, for it destroys his "first perfect mood of
toward the cattle, as if in a trance. Gerald and Rupert appear,
softness and sleep loveliness."
and Gerald scares the cows away. Resentful, Gudrun follows
the cows up the hill, with Gerald following her. Rupert asks As Rupert walks back to Shortlands, his thoughts change. He
Ursula to sing, and he dances toward Ursula, frightening her. finds himself welcoming the passion he just felt. He feels
nothing matters but it, and without it he was "becoming quite
On top of the hill, Gudrun suddenly rushes toward the cows,
dead-alive, nothing but a word bag."
who run off. Gerald criticizes her dangerous behavior. "You
think I'm afraid of you and your cattle, don't you?" she Back at the launch on Willey Water, Gerald tells Rupert the
challenges before punching him lightly in the face. The blow topography of the lake bottom makes it impossible to retrieve

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the bodies. Rupert urges Gerald not to imperil his own life by even welcome. However, he finds himself turning toward
this searching. "You force yourself into horrors, and put a passion with Ursula as a way to resolve his internal
millstone of beastly memories round your neck. Come away contradictions. Though he is alive, Rupert's tendency to
now," Rupert urges. He asks Gerald to come to his house. analyze and intellectualize all aspects of life have made him
Gerald tells Rupert he means "more than he knows" to him, but feel dead. For her part, Ursula finds her ambivalent feelings of
refuses to abandon the search. hatred and attraction toward Rupert have resolved into a
singular feeling of love.
Near dawn on the following day, Sunday, the rescuers find the
body of Diana. Her arms are in a choking embrace around the The relationship between Gudrun and Gerald also develops.
neck of young Doctor Brindell. The excitement of the Gudrun deals Gerald a blow to the face. The relationship takes
catastrophe spreads through town. The miners and their on a tone of violence that will mark it to its end—something
families feel the presence of death in their own homes, as an Gudrun notes with seeming foresight. Significantly, Gerald's
"almost magical" thrill." Gudrun wonders how to behave toward hand is bandaged and useless, putting him in the weaker
Gerald. Ursula spends all day waiting for Rupert to come over, position. Like Ursula and Rupert, Gerald and Gudrun are locked
"deeply and passionately in love" with him. in a struggle. But theirs expresses itself as a violent struggle of
wills rather than a passionate debate in search of truth.

Chapter 15
In this chapter all four major characters experience positive,
transcendent states. These experiences are juxtaposed
against the death of Diana Crich. The death has been a result
of her own exultation, dancing on the roof of the party boat.
Gudrun and Ursula both feel complete and joyful when they
The day after Diana Crich's death, Ursula sits at home alone,
escape the party to swim naked through the lake like Gerald
waiting for Rupert. Toward evening, her amorous anticipation
did in Chapter 4. Gerald feels a sense of peace and oneness
for his presence shifts into a despair, and she becomes
for the first time in his life. He renounces his will to Gudrun and
absorbed in contemplation of death. Ursula is certain she will
lets her row him over the lake. After Diana's death, Rupert feels
soon die. She eventually decides death is the "next step"
the still, tender, sleeplike love he longs for when he kisses
following life and feels herself submitting to a sense of
Ursula on their way to Beldover.
darkness and dissolution. After this, she decides that "to die is

Thus far in the novel death has remained distant. It is a joy" and death, unlike life, "is beyond our sullying."

something that happened in Gerald's past when he killed his

Rupert arrives at last, and Ursula scolds him for going out into
brother. Rupert idealizes death as the remedy for humanity's
the rainy evening when he is obviously ill. Rupert notes a
problems. However, in this chapter death becomes a reality.
change in Ursula, marked by radiance and a quality of being
The reality of it becomes personal for all the major characters
separate. Two of Ursula's younger siblings, Billy and Dora,
as well as for the townspeople who did not attend the party.
come into the room to be put to bed. Billy kisses Rupert
Gerald's dive into the lake recalls his dive in Chapter 4. Instead
goodnight, but Dora refuses.
of experiencing the perfect freedom and mastery he felt
before, he feels helpless and small inside an alien universe. He Ursula's parents and other siblings, including Gudrun, arrive at
can do nothing, but his will forces him to keep trying. He and the house. They have been at church. Rupert and Gerald begin
Gudrun both are drawn to the water, which in this chapter criticizing the Criches for their outward and inauthentic manner
gains strong associations with death. Eerily, Rupert's of expressing grief, which Rupert confirms, having been at the
comments to Ursula about the river of death occur moments house. Rupert agrees with Gudrun grief should be dealt with in
before the drowning, foreshadowing it. private, as it was in the old days—not performed publicly.

Faced with actual death, Ursula and Rupert react differently Rupert leaves. For the next few days, Ursula is completely
than Gudrun and Gerald. Rupert claims death is meaningless or possessed with an abstract hatred for him. The hatred is "pure

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Women in Love Study Guide Chapter Summaries 36

and gemlike," suggesting his existence destroys her existence. understanding of the secrets of death. He will keep this secret
Hearing he is ill once again, she cannot shake her feeling of with him "to the end."
Gerald says his father will die from the sorrow of Diana's loss.
He has become fixated on ensuring his daughter Winifred
Analysis Crich, who is exceptional and singular, is given proper care and
In this chapter Ursula seems to undergo the process of
Gerald contemplates the quality of Rupert's "young, animallike
throwing away everything relating to her life and of entering
spontaneity of detachment." It both attracts and embitters him.
the dark river of dissolution. Rupert had before spoken of this.
Rupert proposes a "lutbruderschaft," or a blood brotherhood,
It was hinted at in the previous chapter. It happens when
between himself and Gerald. "We ought to swear to love each
Ursula feels she is struggling to remain alive as the waters
other, you and I ... without any possibility of going back on it,"
thunder free from the confines of the lake at Shortlands.
Rupert argues. Gerald declines to commit. Rupert senses
Rupert's relation to these ideas was purely theoretical, but
Gerald is "fated, doomed, limited," and this rouses "a sort of
Ursula now experiences them viscerally.
contempt, or boredom" in him.
Ursula goes through a deep depression that turns into a
Rupert suggests instead of sending Winifred away to school,
terrifying experience of self-annihilation. She returns to the
the Criches employ Gudrun as her teacher because both are
regular world changed. On the one hand, she has made peace
of artistic bent. Rupert suggests Winifred might decay like
with death and even begun to view it positively. On the other
Gerald's mother did unless she is shown a way to remain free
hand, she is possessed by a curious hatred for Rupert. Her
from the trap of marriage and motherhood. As Gerald prepares
insights into the reason for this hatred seem to suggest her
to leave, a current of love and desire flows between the two
conscious ego blames Rupert for the experience of
annihilation she underwent. It continues to make her external
life seem meaningless because he is the one who suggested it
to her. This pure hatred is a major shift from her feeling of
passionate, deep love for him, which had possessed her merely
hours earlier.
There have been previous hints at Gerald's connection to
death and alienation from the realm of love and life. These
include his accidental killing of his brother and Gudrun's claim
Chapter 16 at the water party she will be the one to "deal the final blow."
The narrator observes Gerald belongs "to dread and
catastrophe." This idea is now made explicit as Gerald acts as
Summary an audience for Rupert's philosophizing on death. Gerald
understands death and dissolution at a visceral level. He holds
Bedridden and sick nearly to the point of death, Rupert, with the secret, dark truths Rupert and Ursula are reaching toward,
fury and horror, contemplates his ideas about women. To him but he cannot or will not reveal them. Instead, he puts forth a
"Woman" is the "Magna Mater," or Great Mother, imprisoning persona of being a well-adjusted man of will and action to
man because "all was hers, because she had borne it." He compensate for his powerlessness over death's claim on him.
decides both Ursula Brangwen and Hermione Roddice
exemplify this, as their apparent subservience is a means of At the same time Ursula is going through her intense hatred for
control. Rupert, Rupert is viscerally experiencing his hatred. His hatred
is not just for Ursula as an individual, but to the abstraction he
Gerald Crich visits and admits Diana Crich's death is nothing labels "Woman." To him women are all alike, even those who
more than a shock. He relates how Gudrun slapped him that appear to be the opposites of each other, such as Ursula and
night. Rupert asks Gerald if he cares about his own death, and Hermione. Earlier, Rupert asserted woman has a divided and
Gerald feigns indifference. As Rupert describes his theories inferior will that requires submission to the perfect will of man.
about death, Gerald listens, concealing his own direct, personal

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Women in Love Study Guide Chapter Summaries 37

Now, Rupert feels female will negates the freedom of man. He As Thomas Crich dies, he seeks sympathy from Gerald,
envisions another version of the natural order—woman is at the despite the rivalry that has always existed between them.
top of the power hierarchy because she is the one who gives Thomas Crich's illness has also had the effect of putting
birth. Her power of creation also contains its opposite—the Gerald in charge of running the mines. Now Thomas Crich
power of destruction. Rupert decides if he cannot get a woman clings to the idea he must ensure his daughter Winifred will
to submit to his ideal of a relationship, he will attempt to corral have a good and happy life.
a man into it.
Winifred is a strange child, free from suffering because of her
Gerald's refusal to commit to a blood oath with Rupert seems detached stance toward the world. Mr. Crich sees in Gudrun
to suggest he has foreknowledge his fate is otherwise and he Brangwen a way to save Winifred. Meanwhile, Gerald is feeling
cannot steer it with his will. Their love is communicated both lost. All the ideas that had guided him seem also to be dying.
through words and through their energy. But it is not acted He has lost his faith in the idea of the machine and is
upon because destiny—not just social norms—seems to consumed by episodes of hatred. As a child, he idealized the
prevent this. old warrior heroes of Greece. For him life meant the "savage
freedom" of outdoor exploration. He attended college in
Germany, fought in the war, and then "traveled into the savage
Chapter 17 regions." He was disappointed to find that "the savage was
duller, less exciting, than the European."

Having inherited the task of revitalizing and modernizing his

Summary father's mining company, Gerald at last found a way to apply
himself. He adopts a functional view of life. In this view the
There is a period of distance between Ursula and Rupert as
value of a person is based on how well they can perform the
well as Gudrun and Gerald. Gudrun is preparing to move
assigned task, what is known as "pure instrumentality." Gerald
abroad, perhaps to Russia. One day Ursula and Gudrun go to
is motivated only by "the pure fulfillment of his own will in the
buy honey from a woman named Mrs. Kirk who cared for the
struggle with natural conditions." He rejects his father's idea
Crich children when they were young. She describes Gerald as
the mines should be run so as to provide a good life for the
having been "a proper demon" at six months old.

At Shortlands Thomas Crich is in the process of dying. He is

Gerald was a child when Thomas Crich was forced to close the
consumed by a pain and a darkness that are inside him but are
mines in response to a wage dispute. This hurt his father
somehow directly related to his wife. Throughout his whole life
because he "wanted his industry to be run on love." A state of
he has maintained an attitude of pity in response to her violent
war broke out, and Gerald found himself longing to fight with
and impatient personality. The narrator notes death will save
the soldiers.
him from ever facing the things he has failed to examine during
life. Gerald saw how his father was trapped between his values of
Christian charity and the necessity to maintain authority in
As an employer, Crich was guided by Christian morals to care
running his business. Gerald, by contrast, discarded the idea of
for his men. His workers were "unconsciously his idol, his God
charity. He became the "God of the machine," as the entire
made manifest." His wife always opposed this charitable
enterprise was an expression of his singular will.
attitude, but social norms kept her from leaving her ill-suited
life with him. She was like "a hawk in a cage" and responded to Gerald's reforms created efficiency without regard for the
her imprisonment by "sink[ing] into silence." Mrs. Crich isolated welfare of his workers. He reasoned without such reforms, the
herself in disgust at her husband's seeming need to "feed on mines would not be able to operate and everyone would be
the miseries of the people." Their marriage diminished them without a job. Even though the work paid less and was harder
both, destroying her mind while destroying his vitality. Thomas than before, the miners adapted to Gerald's way. They felt they
Crich will die with his idealized image of his wife as a "white were part of one of man's great achievements, even though it
snowflower" intact. In recent years she has lost interest in her was destroying them.
children, with the exception of Gerald.

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Women in Love Study Guide Chapter Summaries 38

Gerald created such a state of perfect efficiency he made As the one in charge, Gerald has chosen values that are in
himself redundant. He had achieved his goal, and there was direct opposition to his father's. These values are those of
nothing left for him to do. As a result he begins to be afraid and mechanized, industrial capitalism. Foregoing the messiness of
to feel his face is "a mask." A talk with Rupert can reduce his love, Gerald has sought and achieved a degree of efficiency
fear temporarily. Otherwise, Gerald strove increasingly harder that is so perfect it is like a perpetual motion machine. Gerald
to hold off the dark meaninglessness that threatened to set it into motion, but he is no longer necessary. All Gerald's
absorb him. He used to find relief in sex with women, but that, worldly interests and activities were rooted in his involvement
too, has ceased to satisfy him. with the mining operation. He now faces an identity crisis and a
terror of being absorbed within a deathlike state of
Gerald's sense his face is a mask suggests, like his father, he
In this chapter the reader gets a first look at the inner has failed to examine inward truths and spent all his energy on
dynamics of the Crich family. The family appeared in the novel the external world. But because the work of love is never done,
in Chapters 1 and 2, which described Laura Crich's wedding Thomas Crich will be saved from this crisis by death's
and reception. They appeared again in Chapter 14 when Diana approach. Efficiency, however, has its limits. Gerald finds
Crich drowns at the annual water party. However, these himself like a god at loose ends, who must turn to destruction
chapters portrayed the Crich family from the outside, as an now that his creation has been perfected.
observer might see them in attending one of these events.
The character of Winifred Crich represents a new kind of
Inside Shortlands, the family is undergoing a major transition in
person. She contains elements of the other main characters,
the wake of Diana's death, as Thomas Crich enters a long,
but they are arranged in a way that makes her freer than they
slow, dying process.
could ever be. Like Gerald, she runs on her own will. Unlike
The marriage of Thomas and Christiana Crich is a union that Gerald, she is not marked by death. Like Gudrun, she is artistic
has destroyed them both. They were bound together despite and mocking. Unlike Gudrun, she does not feel pressured by
extreme ideological opposition. Thomas Crich's guiding values insecurity to act against her own best interest. Like Rupert, she
in his business were Christian love and charity. His wife is entirely changeable. Unlike him, she doesn't form painful
opposed what she viewed as an invitation for the workers to attachments or feel a need to dissect and remake the world.
make parasitic demands of Thomas. But social norms Her father senses these things. His clinging to life takes the
prevented her from leaving the cage of marriage, condemning form of a quest to ensure Winifred's nature is not deformed by
them both to a life marked by irreconcilable conflict. The the process of living.
suffering has given rise to a whole family of offspring who are
unable to live well. This underscores the urgency of searching
for a new kind of marriage and a new meaning for love Rupert Chapter 18
and Ursula undertake.

Imagery of whiteness and snow is used to link Mrs. Crich to Summary

Gerald. Her husband understands her in terms of these
elements, insisting despite all evidence to the contrary she is Gudrun Brangwen decides to accept the offer of employment

his pure, white snowflower. Gerald has also shared his as Winifred Crich's governess, knowing this also means Gerald

mother's ideological opposition to his father, from the time Crich will become her lover. She and Winifred, who "did not

Gerald was a boy if Mrs. Kirk is to be believed. notice human beings unless they were like herself, playful and
slightly mocking," immediately establish a rapport. Winifred
Thomas Crich's death has a meaning beyond the disruption of sketches her ugly, elderly dog Looloo, perfectly capturing the
the Crich family. It symbolizes the death of the old values and creature's "grotesque appearance," which delights both her
the old way of life. Gerald Crich witnessed the problems his and Gudrun.
father's approach to business generated during his childhood.
Gerald returns from having been away just as Winifred and

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Women in Love Study Guide Chapter Summaries 39

Gudrun go to visit Winfred's pet rabbit, Bismarck. Gerald points In this chapter Gudrun discards her plan to move abroad,
out some flowers to Gudrun. She is thrown into a "reverential, choosing to move to Shortlands instead. She is partially drawn
almost ecstatic admiration" for their beauty. He feels as if he is by the memory of Winifred's screams for someone to save
in love with her. By comparison, he feels hatred for Diana while Diana drowned the night of the water party. This
Mademoiselle, Winifred's French governess, who is hard and reveals Gudrun's macabre attraction to horror and death as a
carefully put together, in comparison to Gudrun's soft, luxuriant driving force in her decisions.
appearance. He notes Gudrun's clothing of "startling colors,
like a macaw" is her way of challenging expectations. Winifred's character is revealed through two elements that are
repeatedly used in the novel with symbolic significance:
They approach Bismarck, an enormous black-and-white rabbit animals and art. She is a person whose mocking stance gives
caged in a hutch. Gudrun asks to take out the rabbit, and her freedom from suffering, allowing her to play with the world
Winifred warns her of the rabbit's enormous strength. Gudrun rather than be hurt by it. Winifred, by virtue of her character,
grabs the rabbit. It lashes out from her grip, so "magically seems to bypass all the philosophical difficulties that so
strong" Gudrun almost loses her self-possession and Winifred trouble the novel's protagonists. The problem of finding a new
becomes frightened. Recovering, Gudrun feels angry at how way to live is irrelevant for Winifred. She has found her own
the stupid animal has clawed at her, and Gerald realizes way. Unlike Rupert Birkin, she doesn't require union with
Gudrun has a cruel nature. As Gerald takes hold of the rabbit, it anyone else to get there. Being united with herself is enough.
lashes out demonically. Gerald hits the rabbit in the neck, and it
makes "an unearthly, abhorrent scream in the fear of death." Bismarck, the giant rabbit, establishes the commonality

Gudrun feels the whole episode has "torn the veil of her between Gerald and Gudrun, based on their allegiance to

consciousness." The rabbit, in Gerald's grip, seems dead. animalistic violence and cruelty. Gerald subdues the rabbit

Gerald and Winifred joke about how the rabbit ought to be when Gudrun is unable to. Unlike his domination of the horse in

dead. Between Gerald and Gudrun there arises a "sense of Chapter 9, Gerald does not escape unscathed. The event with

mutual hellish recognition." the horse was only horrifying to onlookers. This time it horrifies
both Gudrun and Gerald, and it is they who bleed, rather than
Gerald drops the rabbit, and it sits immobile. Gudrun and the animal. The rabbit is portrayed as being insane and
Gerald each have red gashes on their arms. The wounds "tear demonic, something Gudrun and Gerald not only recognize but
the surface of [Gerald's] ultimate consciousness, letting find themselves experiencing. Like the rabbit, they are torn out
through the forever unconscious, unthinkable red ether of the of normal consciousness. The rabbit's movements are
obscene beyond." The rabbit begins to run in circles, as if described as not manifestations of its conscious will, nor as
under a spell. The chapter closes with Winifred soothing and instinct, but as compulsions by some violent, demon-like
praising the rabbit as "mysterious" and with Gerald and Gudrun energy. Gerald and Gudrun share recognition of this quality in
confident of their diabolical connection to each other. the rabbit, which Winifred reacts to first with fear and later by
calling it "mysterious." This kind of energy foreshadows the
quality that will come to dominate their relationship as the
Analysis novel unfolds.

The name of Winifred Crich's rabbit is a reference to Otto von

Bismarck (1815–98). Known as the "Iron Chancellor," he was Chapter 19
the Prussian politician who created a united German empire in
the late 19th century. He promoted industrialization with a
strategy known as realpolitik, which emphasized practical
outcomes at any cost. Bismarck is famous for declaring the
way forward was through "blood and iron." The rabbit's name
Rupert goes to France for a while, leaving Ursula to feel
provides some historical context for the story and associates
hopeless, indifferent, and resentful of human beings. One night
Gerald and Gudrun with the cruel determination of Otto von
she walks to Willey Green, feeling because she is going to die,
Bismarck's legacy.
she can accept this and find freedom and "a new union

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Women in Love Study Guide Chapter Summaries 40

elsewhere." The moon overhead seems like a presence that is than see them getting into a lot of loose ways such as you see
watching her. She is frightened. She walks to the millpond and everywhere nowadays." Rupert tells Brangwen, who has
realizes Rupert has quietly returned from France when she worked himself into a rage, that "they're not to be buried."
sees him by the water. He is cursing Cybele, an ancient mother Brangwen counters Ursula will do what she wants to,
goddess, and throwing rocks on the pond. The rocks make the regardless of him.
moon's reflection fly up "white and burst through the air"
before "regathering itself insidiously ... calling back the Ursula gets home, and her father tells her Rupert came to

scattered fragments." propose. This makes her even more distant and vague. In turn
Rupert grows bitter about his mistake, and her father grows
Ursula goes down to Rupert and tells him she feels unlovable angrier. Mr. Brangwen tries to bully Ursula into giving an
and unfulfilled. She tells Rupert she wants him to "serve [her] answer, but she infuriates him by refusing to. Rupert leaves,
spirit." He says he wants her to give him her spirit, "that gold telling Ursula they will discuss the matter later. Ursula, shaken,
light which is you." Ursula objects he wants her to serve him closes herself off to everyone but Gudrun. Gudrun advises
but is unwilling to serve her. She tells him there are many other Ursula it would be impossible to be married to Rupert because
women who will be "a mere thing for" him. He replies he wants of his domineering nature. They mock him, calling him a "Lloyd
her to trust herself so much she is able to drop her "assertive George of the air," a reference to a British statesman. Gudrun's
will" and "let [herself] go." He notes a war of words will never swift, final judgment of Rupert leads Ursula to draw away from
solve their disagreement. She counters he, the "preacher," is her and toward thoughts of Rupert again. She knows they want
the one who cannot do this. They fall into stillness and peace. two different things from love. She decides she will fight him
Finally, he says he loves her and doesn't want to discuss it any for the "unspeakable intimacies" and "complete self-abandon"
further. He kisses her softly, feeling their togetherness in she wants from him.
"happy stillness" is "heaven." She moves passionately toward
him and he urges her into stillness. She leaves.
The next day, Rupert thinks perhaps he was wrong to refuse
Ursula's passion. He recalls the statue of the African woman at It is significant the reunion between Ursula and Rupert occurs
Julius Halliday's apartment in London. This statue has the at the millpond under the moon. Rupert is symbolically
"purely sensual" knowledge Rupert himself lacks. He attempting to destroy the moon by throwing rocks at its
contemplates how the African race has already gone through reflection. However, he cannot, because the reflection keeps
the process of losing hope. He says Africans have lost reassembling itself, despite his furious efforts. The moon is a
connection to life and move through dissolution and into the traditional symbol of the feminine, and Rupert is outright
"sensual, mindless, dreadful mysteries." The "white races" now cursing an ancient mother goddess. This symbolic scene
face this task. But their experience will be different. They have conveys the futility of Rupert's attempt to live without a female
"the arctic north behind them" and must "fulfill a mystery of ice- counterpart. The scene also illustrates the unreal nature of his
destructive knowledge." The "sun destruction" controlled the conception of the female. His conception of the feminine is
experience of the Africans. He wonders if Gerald Crich is "a merely a reflection of his own self-hatred and has little to do
messenger, an omen of the universal dissolution into whiteness with how women actually are. Ursula feels the effect of his
and snow ..." He wonders if Gerald is "fated to pass away in this actions as if she were connected to the reflection he rages
... one process of frost knowledge, death by perfect cold." against, underscoring the connection between the moon and
Frightened and tired by this prospect, Rupert decides to the feminine. This is Rupert's final rage against womankind, the
pursue the path of freedom and love. resolution of the hatred that overcame him following Diana
Crich's death.
He goes to Ursula's house, seized with urgency to ask her to
marry him. He is received by her father, who Rupert Their argument continues, with Ursula demanding the use of
immediately judges as a meaningless, undeveloped person. the word love from Rupert. His rage exhausted, he finally
Ursula is at the library, and Rupert tells her father he came to concedes to her demand. He knows their contention over the
ask Ursula to marry him. The tension between the men grows. word love is really an argument over a symbol, not the thing
Brangwen tells Rupert he would "rather bury [his daughters] itself, and this only produces confusion. It is with this

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Women in Love Study Guide Chapter Summaries 41

knowledge Rupert concedes Ursula the symbol love she

craves. He hopes to move beyond semantics (the meaning of Chapter 20
words) to an actual resolution through shared experience.

Rupert moves from contemplation of the symbolic moon to his Summary

contemplation of the symbolic statue of the African carving he
knows from Julius Halliday's flat. Rupert connects the feeling After the farcical proposal, Rupert heads directly to
he gets from this statue to his theory about the end of the Shortlands, where he finds Gerald consumed by feelings that
world. He also connects this feeling to his half-formed are new for him: boredom and emptiness. Gerald has done all
conception he seeks something in his relationship with Ursula he can do, and now there is no more. He tells Rupert there are
the African woman seems to embody. The statue suggests to only three remedies: taking intoxicants, being soothed by
Rupert a mode of being that transcends the mind. She is Rupert, or sex with women. Rupert suggests Gerald "try hitting
beyond words. She is firmly physical and sensuous and seems something." He offers to show him the jiujitsu, or Japanese
to have discarded every trace of her personal ego and wrestling, he learned from "a Jap" in Germany. They agree to
undergone a transformation into something else. This is the strip, and Gerald tells the butler to ensure their privacy.
transformation Rupert has been trying to describe to Ursula.
Here, he connects this transformation not to his individual As they wrestle with each other's nude bodies, "They seemed
fulfillment, but to racial destiny. The white races will undergo to drive their white flesh deeper and deeper against each other
the ego death Rupert, contemplating the statue, feels the ..." As the fight continues, "Rupert's whole physical intelligence
African race has already undergone, long ago. Rupert's symbol interpenetrated into Gerald's body ... through the muscles into
for the fulfillment of the white race's destiny is none other than the very depths of Gerald's physical being." When it is over,
Gerald Crich. Crich has been associated with imagery of both men are exhausted and semiconscious, with Rupert the
northern whiteness, as well as with death, from the novel's narrow victor and the more exhausted. Rupert slides in and out
opening. Gerald is also associated with the white man's of consciousness. As he falls over Gerald's body, both Rupert
modern industrialism, which destroys humanity in the name of himself and the known world seem to be cleaning themselves
efficiency. Rupert's thoughts here contain yet another out and transforming into darkness. Rupert hears his own
suggestion Gerald, like the white race he symbolizes, is headed heartbeat as something external to him. When Rupert's
for a fate involving destruction by cold. Rupert turns away from heartbeat draws near to him and resumes its place inside him,
these frightening thoughts. He returns to the idea of union with he regains control of his mind. Spontaneously, Gerald clasps
a woman, with Ursula, as a solution for his persistent anxieties Rupert's hand, and Rupert responds in kind.
about the destruction of humanity.
When they are able to speak again, their conversation is full of
In asking Ursula's father for permission to marry her, Rupert is silence as they contemplate the sense the meaning of their
doing something very traditional. However, the gulf in values match is yet unfinished. Gerald agrees with Rupert it makes
between the two men turns this traditional gesture of respect sense their spiritual and emotional intimacy should be
into an occasion for antagonism. It so upsets Ursula she accompanied by physical intimacy. Rupert tells Gerald he finds
neither rejects nor accepts the proposal, but flees in self- his body beautiful, with its "northern kind of beauty—like light
respect. The distance between Rupert and Mr. Brangwen is reflected from snow." Gerald says he feels much better. But as
symbolic of the distance between those who hold the old Rupert sits by the fire, he finds himself returning to Ursula in his
values and those who seek a new way. However, Mr. Brangwen mind. He explains to Gerald he has just proposed to her.
is only one end of the spectrum of the old values. His values Gerald is delighted at the story and calls himself Rupert's
are superficial, unlike Thomas Crich's, which are based on a "good angel." Rupert says he thinks he loves Ursula. Gerald
deeply felt allegiance to Christian love and charity. Mr. says he believes in abiding, unchanging true love. He says he
Brangwen exemplifies the worst type of conservatism, which is has never found it with a woman to the degree he's felt it for
purely reactionary and defensive. To place him in the context Rupert. Gerald says he doesn't care what happens, as long as
of Rupert's metaphor, he is one of the rotten fruits on the tree he feels fulfilled in life.
of humanity that refuses to drop away.

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Women in Love Study Guide Chapter Summaries 42

and tells Gerald she is "remarkable." Gerald finds himself

Analysis wincing under the power of her spirit, which feels like a prison
to him.
Gerald experiences ennui for the first time. He has made
himself useless through his own success in business. His She comes and sits with Mr. Crich, who despite being
comment on the outcome of capitalism recalls Rupert's earlier obviously near death, maintains a jovial and energetic attitude.
"what then" statement. It also reveals Gerald's inability to sit He tells her about the plans for a studio, and she feigns
alone with himself, hinting at a darkness in his psyche he surprise. She assures him she would be happy to stay were a
cannot yet face. This turns him toward the idea of love or studio provided. In his attempts to cling to life, Mr. Crich
oblivion. The undertones of homosexuality become blatant. fastens himself upon other people. Gerald cannot stand to be
Gerald wants Rupert, the individual, whom he loves. He in the presence of his dying father, but Winifred visits her
mentions women, but not an individual woman, because he has father constantly. When the studio is finished, Gudrun and
never loved a woman the way he loves Rupert. Winifred move into it, a welcome relief from the heavy energy
in the house.
Nude wrestling is a respectable manly sport with a long history.
It is the perfect way for Rupert and Gerald to experience Thomas Crich is in and out of consciousness when he asks to
physical intimacy while maintaining a pretense of see Gudrun a final time. He asks her if Winifred has artistic
heterosexuality and noncommitment to each other. Yet, talent and when she answers affirmatively, he replies, "Then
through their movements, Gerald and Rupert find each other in her life won't be altogether wasted, you think?" He asks
the place Rupert has often spoken of. It is the place beyond whether Gudrun enjoys life and says, "It's good to live, isn't it?"
the mind's knowledge where knowledge lives in the blood. Later, Winifred asks Gudrun whether she believes Thomas
Despite his deep physical and spiritual communion with Gerald, Crich will die. When Gudrun says yes, Winifred asserts she
once it is over, the thought they are too different makes Rupert doesn't believe he will. Gerald tells Gudrun this is a good
grow distant. There is some discrepancy in this because he attitude for Winifred to have. He says it is "best to dance while
has always spoken of a love where each remains a singular Rome burns since it must burn, don't you think?" This lets loose
being and balances the other. It reveals Rupert's confusion. a furiously strong urge in Gudrun to experience wild passion
Just as Rupert is given the chance to move deeper into a with Gerald, but she shuts down the feeling.
relationship with Gerald, he refuses by turning back to Ursula in
his mind. This signifies Rupert perhaps lacks the courage of his They go to the lodge where Winifred is playing with a litter of
convictions. puppies. Rupert arrives, and they all climb into the car, with
Gerald and Gudrun together in the back. Gerald asks Rupert
and Gudrun if there are developments toward marriage on
Chapter 21 Ursula's part. This intrusion into their privacy irritates Gudrun.
Gerald and Gudrun begin to criticize Rupert's ideas about
marriage. Gudrun asserts love lasts as long as it does, and
marriage is separate, being a social arrangement. They share
Summary amusement at Rupert's incoherent ideas about what marriage
will deliver. Gudrun says, "I can't make out—neither can he nor
While Gudrun visits London and contemplates a permanent
anybody. He says he believes that a man and wife can go
move away from Beldover, a letter arrives from Winifred Crich.
further than any other two beings—but where, is not explained.
Winifred promises Gudrun access to a studio, which persuades
They can know each other, heavenly and hellish, but
her to accept the position at Shortlands. Winifred wants to give
particularly hellish, so perfectly that they go beyond heaven
Gudrun a bouquet of flowers upon her arrival but struggles
and hell—into—there it all breaks down—into nowhere." They
with the idea it is a silly thing to do. With the help of Wilson, the
agree they don't care for paradise and love to them is "real
man who works in the greenhouse, the bouquet is assembled.
The next morning, Gudrun arrives. Winifred presents the
flowers to her, and she is also greeted by Mr. Crich, who is
close to death, and Gerald. Mr. Crich is warm toward Gudrun

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Women in Love Study Guide Chapter Summaries 43

In this chapter Thomas Crich's impending death provides a
means for the other characters to examine their own attitudes
Chapter 22
about death. Both Gerald Crich and Gudrun Brangwen have
certain ideas about how one should go through death. Their
ideas are in opposition. Gerald is repulsed by his father's denial Summary
of death. His father's refusal to die quickly results in a
prolonged process of death Gerald finds "unclean." On the Hermione and Ursula find themselves alone at Rupert's house,
other hand, Gudrun Brangwen admires the persistence of having gone there in response to an invitation to tea. The two
Crich's will and his refusal to submit to death or to give in to women consider their dislike for each other. Ursula dislikes
despair. Winifred Crich, unlike both Gerald and Gudrun, refuses Hermione because of her inability to live outside her mind.
to acknowledge at all her father will die. In this way she mimics Ursula thinks Hermione is "a priestess without belief ... suckled
her father's own attitude. Winifred's denial of death also in a creed outworn ... a leaf among a dying tree." Hermione
underscores the girl's remarkable ability to live in a world of her feels superior to Ursula, feeling Ursula is foolishly
own invention. Gudrun's admiration for Thomas Crich is surely overemotional. Hermione inquires about Ursula's relationship
linked to the fact she is more distant from the family, not being with Rupert. Ursula tells Hermione Rupert wants to marry her
part of it. But the differences in attitude between Gerald and but she is undecided. She doesn't want to "give herself up" to
Winifred point to differences in character and perhaps destiny. Rupert like he wants her to. Hermione is jealous, wishing
Both Gerald and Winifred are set apart and singular, and both Rupert wanted this from her. Ursula knows Hermione would be
have been present at the death of one of their siblings. It was Rupert's slave, but Rupert doesn't want this from a woman.
Winifred, after all, whose shouts alerted Gerald during the Hermione tells Ursula it would be a mistake to marry a
water party Diana Crich had fallen into the water. Winifred, "sensitive man" such as Rupert and she should marry "a man
therefore, bears no moral responsibility for her sibling's death. like the old heroes." She launches into an explanation of
It is her capacity to accept contrast, her secure self-esteem, Rupert's personality and why he needs a woman who will
and her connection to animals and to artistic expression that "suffer for him." It is, she says, something she has done a great
set her apart. On the other hand, Gerald directly caused the deal of. In the silence that follows, Ursula feels resentful
death of his brother when they were children. Whether it was Hermione has described what she herself wants, not what's
an accident or the surfacing of an unconscious, primal death best for Ursula. Hermione is hurt she has turned Ursula against
drive, it is this dark event that has set Gerald apart. It ensures her.
he feels his father's struggle with death viscerally inside
Rupert arrives and, sensing the tension, begins to make small
talk. Ursula's mood hardens at his inauthenticity. Hermione
Despite their differing opinions on how death ought to be says she'll spend the winter in Florence, Italy. She mentions a
approached, Gerald and Gudrun connect through the idea that new school of aesthetics and lectures on Italian national policy
one should "dance while Rome burns." This statement is meant as reasons why she is going. Rupert is antagonistic and
to express Gerald's approval of Winifred's denial of death. It dismissive of the issue of Italian nationalism. Claiming
functions as a sort of come-on line, meant to shift the focus Hermione lived in Italy as a child and her mother died there,
from death toward a passionate, violent sexuality. Gerald Hermione begins speaking in Italian.
senses this passion has been aroused in Gudrun and
Rupert rings for the tea, and his cat, Mino, enters. Hermione
subsequently shut down. He succeeds in reestablishing this
begins addressing the cat in Italian. She explains Mino was
connection by bringing up the topic of Rupert's potential
born on Rupert's birthday in Florence, inside her trash can.
engagement to Ursula. Rupert's insistence he wants "a binding
Ursula feels excluded from the bond between Hermione and
contract" with Ursula provides a means for Gerald and Gudrun
Rupert, who she sees as "people of the same old tradition, the
to express their distaste for such an idea. By criticizing Rupert,
same withered deadening culture." Hermione defies Rupert by
Gerald and Gudrun establish they have the same idea about
feeding Mino a saucer of cream from the table. Ursula decides
love or what love could look like between them: a "real

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Hermione has a permanent place with Rupert, while she does

not. She takes leave and runs home, propelled by her anger at Chapter 23
them both.

The following afternoon, Ursula agrees to take a drive with
This chapter recalls Chapter 3, the last time Hermione, Ursula, Rupert. He feels all his efforts at human relationships are futile,
and Rupert were alone together. That meeting took place in yet he cannot stop making them. He gives her three rings: a
Ursula's classroom, and Hermione was the intruder, showing red opal, a blue sapphire, and a yellow topaz. Ursula loves the
up unexpected and uninvited. Much has passed, including rings but is suspicious and asks why he bought them. She tells
Hermione's attempt to kill Rupert with a paperweight and the him he should give them to Hermione because Hermione owns
development of an intellectual and romantic connection him. When Ursula tries them on, only the red one fits. She is
between Ursula and Rupert. Hermione claims she is going happy and talkative. He is secretly angry, feeling he has
away to Italy. However, now she makes one last effort to accepted her "fountain of mystic corruption which was one of
assert her ownership over Rupert and the superiority of her the sources of her being" while she has not done that for him.
connection with him.
He mentions he is going to Shortlands to see Hermione off and
The connection Hermione displays to Rupert is rooted in the say goodbye to her forever, and this upsets Ursula. They begin
past. It is their shared past as well as the old ways that are now to fight about Hermione, and Rupert stops the car. He calls her
in their death throes. Mino, Rupert's cat, becomes a symbol of a fool for her needless preoccupation with Hermione. Ursula
both their personal past and of the old world. Hermione says he must return "like a dog to his vomit" to Hermione's "old,
underscores her allegiance to the old ways and the old world deathly way of living." Ursula gets out of the car and angrily
by speaking in Italian, which emotionally as well as literally tells Rupert he plans to marry her but to keep Hermione and
excludes Ursula. Despite Rupert's protests, both over other "spiritual brides in the background." He loves her "sham
Hermione's treatment of the cat and his ideological dismissal spirituality" because he wants the "foulness" of the sex that
of Italian politics, Hermione's will triumphs, as it always does. comes with it. Rupert knows Ursula is right and tells Ursula
Hermione clasps Ursula's hand and refuses to let it go in the Hermione is his enemy whom he must bid farewell. She tells
moment Ursula attempts to leave. This is an inauthentic and him to leave her alone and throws the rings at him, walking
manipulative gesture meant to create the appearance she away.
does not actually want Ursula to go. At the same time, the
gesture forces Ursula to submit to her physically, if even for a Rupert contemplates Ursula and Hermione, feeling they both

moment. want the same "horrible fusion of two beings" in love. He wants
to remain his individual self. He picks up the rings, and Ursula
Ursula's anger at Rupert stems from his weakness in the face returns, offering him a flower. The mood shifts into ease and
of Hermione. Ursula suggests he is really allied with her and all simplicity, and he feels full of a "hot passion of tenderness for
he has told her about the relationship being over has been her." Ursula is convinced he loves her but wishes he would be
mere talk. Ursula's hurried flight away is an authentic passionate instead of showing her the "still and frail"
expression of her true feelings. It provides a contrast with the tenderness. They begin to drive again, both happy. Rupert feels
inauthenticity of Hermione as well as Rupert. He demonstrates he and the world are new.
this by making small talk. He also refuses to take hold of a
situation wherein Hermione was clearly pushing out Ursula, the After passing by a cathedral that was important to Ursula's

woman he claims to love. parents, they take tea at the Saracen's Head. She touches his
body. She feels she found "one of the sons of God ... and he
had found one of the first most luminous daughters of men." A
current of energy runs through them, and the sensual touch
that is transcendent and gratifying for both of them. Afterward,
she feels "an essential new being ... free in complete ease." As

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Women in Love Study Guide Chapter Summaries 45

they eat and have tea, Rupert persuades her they must give up everything. Like the daisies Rupert plucked in Chapter 11, this
their employment and travel. They write out their resignations flower has the effect of replacing antagonism and complexity
and begin driving again through the night. He scoffs when she with simplicity and unity. Shortly after, at the inn where Rupert
asks if he will take dinner at Shortlands and suggests they first submits to Ursula's passionate touch, she appears to him
sleep in the car. Stopping in a village, he mails the letters, as "a paradisiacal flower ... beyond womanhood." The tone dips
telegrams her father she is spending the night away, and buys briefly back into complexity, with Ursula being unsure about
food. Rupert's conviction they should live as homeless and jobless
wanderers. When they finally have sex that night in the dark
He drives into Sherwood Forest, and they sit in the darkness. forest, each receives exactly what they want from the other.
Before sleeping on the hood of the car, they make love. The
narrator says that "she was to him what he was to her, the
immemorial magnificence of mystic, palpable, real otherness."
Chapter 24

This chapter's title, "Excurse," refers to the act of going on an
outing as well as to a rambling, digressive mode of speech. As Thomas Crich's fight against death comes to its end, life

Once again, Lawrence has created a mirror between the loses meaning for Gerald. Gerald is consumed by his father's

physical activity of the characters and their emotional or death, which he forces himself to watch despite his terror. He

interpersonal activity. Ursula and Rupert drive through the clings to Gudrun, wanting "the relation established with her."

countryside. Their conversation travels along familiar, rambling

One evening, she reluctantly agrees to stay for dinner and
paths of what their relationship should look like, the problem of
finds herself attracted to him at the table. A nurse appears and
Hermione, and their perceived flaws. The emotional states of
summons Gerald to his father's bedside. After he returns,
Ursula and Rupert also cling to the same well-worn routes.
Gudrun tries to leave, but he urges her to stay. Standing before
Rupert feels a distaste for humanity, and Ursula reacts angrily
the fire, he tells her his father's movement toward death has
to Rupert's contradictions, hypocrisy, and smug certainty. Even
changed him by taking away all meaning. It has also made clear
in the act of presenting Ursula with three rings rather than one,
he must confront and resolve the fact of his own eventual
Rupert conveys his characteristic indecision and ambivalence
death. He tells Gudrun he only wants her to listen with
about marriage.
sympathy as he talks, for Rupert "isn't sympathetic."

At the climax of their argument, Rupert stops the car, an act

Mrs. Crich comes in, and Gerald tells her the doctor predicted
that signifies they are at a crucial point in their relationship. It is
Mr. Crich would die before morning. She tells her son he is
a moment from which they will either proceed forward or
unnecessary and should leave. "Let the dead bury their
disengage entirely.
dead—don't go and bury yourself along with them—that's what

Rupert's insists Ursula should not mind his going to see I tell you. I know you well enough," she says.

Hermione off before she leaves for Italy. This is followed by his
Gerald insists on walking Gudrun home. He finds strength and
claim Ursula and Hermione are similar to each other in their
balance by putting his arm around her, and Gudrun is
"rottenness." His comment insists on an intimacy that tries to
intoxicated by the "poison" of his need. He tells her she is
fuse individuals together. Rupert presents this as a
everything to him, and she is ecstatic, yet doubtful. They come
philosophical position that he has staked out. It shows an
to an arch under a railway bridge, a place the miners use for
extreme lack of common sense and even decency toward
their romantic encounters. Gerald and Gudrun make love. She
Ursula by refusing to budge on this point. After all, he has just
melts like electricity into his "soft iron." She sees an aura of
attempted to finalize their engagement by giving her rings.
white around him. She feels she is Eve and he is "the glistening,
Each unwilling to concede the fight to the will of the other,
forbidding apple" on "the tree of knowledge." Afterward, he
Ursula walks away with intentions of not returning. Yet she
walks her as far as the edge of town, and they say goodbye.
returns, and her peace offering of a flower to Rupert shifts

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Women in Love Study Guide Chapter Summaries 46

Two days later, Gerald watches his father die, and hears the Crich looks in death. The reader may recall how the darkness
"horrible, choking rattle" Thomas Crich makes. The nurse and pain that gradually enveloped Thomas Crich was linked
comes in and confirms the death. Gerald tries to hide his directly to Mrs. Crich. This suggests she has had some role to
"unconscious, frightening exultation" as he tells his brother, play in the death. However, it is not the fact he is dead Mrs.
Basil, their father has died. His mother is calm and unemotional Crich is addressing, but rather the fact he went to his death
at the news, while the Crich daughters weep loudly together. unwillingly. His resistance to death and lack of readiness for it
Examining her deceased husband, Mrs. Crich begins to muse is symbolized in his corpse's reversion to its youthful beauty.
on how beautiful and young looking he is in death. She tells her Mrs. Crich is expressing the idea one should embrace one's
children, "None of you look like this when you are dead! Don't death willingly.
let it happen again."
She warns her children she would rather have killed them at
Upon the news of Mr. Crich's death, Gudrun returns to the birth than have them face their death without willingness. This
studio at Shortlands. Coming into the studio, Gerald is struck recalls Mr. Brangwen's words to Rupert Birkin when Rupert
by the happy atmosphere. came to propose to Ursula. Brangwen stated he would rather
his daughters be dead than adopt the new ways and discard
After the funeral, Gerald is left alone and finds he cannot the values he raised them with. Mrs. Crich is expressing one of
escape the feeling of being "hung in chains over the edge of an her central values. Whatever the circumstances of one's life, it
abyss." On the evening of the third day, he sets out into the is important to at least retain the dignity of going to death with
woods. He stumbles through the dark without intention until he open arms. She may view such a choice as the only freedom
comes to a road and realizes he must choose one way or remaining in her own life.
another. After asking two miners for directions, Gerald slips
unnoticed into the Brangwen house and finds Gudrun in bed. Thomas Crich's death releases Gerald from the agony of
She wants him to go until he tells her his life depends on her. feeling his father's struggle as his own. However, as he tells
They make love. He finds the life restored in him. She receives Gudrun, he has been released not into life but into his own
"in an ecstasy of subjection" the "terrible frictional violence of reckoning with his own death. This is why the "exultation" he
death." He falls asleep while she is "left with all the anguish of feels is frightening to him. His sexual consummation with
consciousness." She spends the night recalling all her previous Gudrun follows shortly after. Romantic pairing usually signifies
life, "as if she drew a glittering rope of knowledge out of the the fullness of life. However, Gerald's pairing with Gudrun is
sea of darkness." She waits for the clock to strike five and then merely a means of involving her intimately in his own upcoming
sends him away before her family wakes. Relieved, she falls death. This is made explicit in the description of their sexual
into a deep sleep. As dawn approaches, Gerald walks to interaction. This union briefly relieves Gerald of death's weight
Shortlands with his mind "beautifully still and thoughtless, like a by transferring it to Gudrun.
still pool."

Chapter 25
In this chapter the long, slow decline of Thomas Crich finally
comes to an end. It was already happening when the book
opened, and it accelerated in Chapter 14 when Diana died.
Several weeks later, with Christmas approaching, the
Most of the Crich children grieve for their father in a way that
Brangwen family prepares to move out of Beldover because of
suggests a love that did not happen during his life or while he
Mr. Brangwen's job. Rupert has obtained a marriage license,
was dying. The reactions of Mrs. Crich and Gerald Crich are, if
but Ursula keeps delaying. Gerald anticipates the wedding and
not loving, at least intensely authentic.
asks Rupert if he should marry Gudrun. Rupert advises against

The comment Mrs. Crich could make upon viewing her it but says he ought to ask Gudrun.

husband's fresh corpse is puzzling. She is strangely defensive,

Gerald says he is at a point where he must choose a direction.
claiming to her children she is not responsible for the way
Marriage is one direction, but Gerald refuses, uneasy, to speak

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Women in Love Study Guide Chapter Summaries 47

of the other. Rupert denounces "marriage in the old sense" that Gerald's choice seems to be a prolonged involvement with the
fragments the world into self-contained couples. He says he process of death (the underworld) or with the direct movement
envisions a perfect union between man and woman existing toward death. He was repulsed by his own father's refusal to
alongside a similar relationship between man and man. move directly toward the death that was hanging over him.
Therefore, it seems obvious which of the two choices Gerald
Gerald anticipates marriage would be a prison, not a "pure will make.
relationship with any other soul." Nonetheless, he entertains
the idea as a way for him to establish himself within society
and then "retreat to the underworld for his life." He considers
Rupert's proposition of entering into a "bond of pure trust and
Chapter 26
love" with him first. This would then allow him to have an
"absolute, mystic marriage" with Gudrun. He wants to accept
Rupert's offer but is more compelled to reject this commitment.
One Monday afternoon, Ursula Brangwen and Rupert Birkin go

Analysis to a secondhand market in Beldover to buy furniture for their

life together. Ursula notices a young pregnant woman

In the previous chapter Gerald found himself at a literal examining a mattress and realizes the "reluctant, slinking"

crossroads in a dark woods faced with moving physically in young man with her is going to marry her because she is

one direction or the other. In this chapter he presents his pregnant.

dilemma to Rupert as an existential crossroads. The direction

Rupert and Ursula find an old chair they are both drawn to.
he chooses to move in their life will set his fate. However,
They buy it, and Rupert rhapsodizes about how his "beloved
Gerald, as usual, still keeps many of his cards hidden, even
country ... had something to express even when it made that
when opening up. He tells Rupert one direction is marriage to
chair." The chair's one flaw is a recent repair to the seat. Ursula
Gudrun, but he will not name the other direction. The reader
is irritated at his putting the past on a pedestal and devaluing
senses the other direction will lead him toward death. Rupert
the present, and they quarrel momentarily. Ursula decides she
and Gerald share a bond greater than any other bond Gerald
doesn't want the chair because she wants something besides
has ever known. Gerald's view of Rupert as immature and
the past to replace the hateful present. Rupert says they
smug in his theories likely contributes to Gerald refusing to
shouldn't have a permanent home or possessions because
name the second direction.
these will take away their freedom.

Rupert first made the offer of a permanent bond with Gerald

They decide to return the chair to the vendor, but Ursula is
immediately following his disastrous proposal to Ursula. In the
compelled to give it to the young couple. They are confused by
wake of Gerald's father's death and his sexual consummation
Ursula addressing them. The woman is suspicious and hostile.
with Gudrun, Rupert extends the offer once again but couches
Ursula finds herself physically attracted to the man, "a still,
it in different terminology. A relationship with another male
mindless creature ... that the towns have produced." When
would be a sort of training ground. Rupert would build on the
Rupert approaches, the man asks him to explain what Ursula is
love and trust he and Gerald already have and learn how to
talking about. The woman suggests they don't want the chair
replicate that in a complementary marriage with Gudrun. The
because they've decided it's too shabby for them. When Ursula
terminology shifts away from the language of brotherhood and
explains they've decided to travel rather than make a home
toward the language of love. This reflects the physical intimacy
after they get married, she and the woman experience a
that has passed between them when they wrestled naked
moment of connection. They accept the chair, both of them
urging Rupert and Ursula not to rush into marriage. They say

However, Gerald seems to understand there is no way he can goodbye, and the young man carries the chair off.

ever belong to the bright aboveground world of love. His

Ursula and Rupert discuss how those two are the "meek" that,
marriage to Gudrun would be a way for him to save face and
according to Jesus in the Bible, "shall inherit the earth." They
keep up appearances while he wrestles with his own dark soul.
must, therefore, live in the cracks where those people do not

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Women in Love Study Guide Chapter Summaries 48

live. They discuss the prospect of Gudrun and Gerald marrying.

Rupert mentions he wants "a sort of further fellowship" beyond Chapter 27
marriage. Ursula questions this and tells him he cannot force
anyone to come along with this. He must stop bullying others
into loving him and "learn to be alone." Rupert wonders aloud if Summary
he really wants a "real, ultimate relationship with Gerald."
That evening, Ursula returns home full of happiness and
announces she will marry Rupert the following day. Her mother,
Analysis father, and Gudrun are all unpleasantly surprised. Her father
goes into "one of his stupid rages" when Ursula points out this
Ursula has suspected Rupert of having allegiance to the old was something they all knew about. She stands up to her
ways, despite his continual struggle to reject them and to father and tells him his love has always been bullying. He hits
discover new ways of being. Hermione has been a symbol of her, and she escapes before he can land a second blow.
the way Rupert maintains allegiance to these old ways while
simultaneously misrepresenting this allegiance. Hermione is Ursula confronts her family a second time, announcing she is

now out of the picture. However, the simple act of looking at a leaving. She cries all the way to Rupert's house and tells him

secondhand chair proves the root of the conflict between what happened. He soothes her, telling her this was inevitable

Ursula and Rupert has not been resolved. Ursula demonstrates but is not the catastrophe she imagines. He says she can stay

it is she who has become the more visionary of the two of with him. She appears so radiantly beautiful to him, "so new, so

them. She tells Rupert although the present may be awful, it is wonder clear," while his soul is "so old ... dark and gloomy."

still worse to obliterate the present by regressing into the past. Ursula doesn't know Rupert is on the verge of soul death but

They have envisioned a future where their freedom is shared her youth will allow him "resurrection and ... life" through

by their lack of a home. Home is a symbol of the old ways and marriage. He cannot communicate this to her because words

of the old type of stifling marriage. They remember what is at are insufficient.

stake is not just their ideological alignment to old values or new

The next day they get married, and Ursula does not return to
values but also their practical expression of values. Will they
her job. One day Gerald visits Ursula alone. She tells him he
have a home, or won't they? Without a home, the chair makes
should marry Gudrun to be happy like her and Rupert but
no sense.
realizes she doesn't actually know if Gudrun would like this

The juxtaposition of Rupert and Ursula against the pregnant idea. Gerald tells her he plans to ask Gudrun to join him on a

woman and the man brings into focus an example of a trip abroad at Christmas and suggests the four of them go

relationship they do not want. It also illustrates the class together.

tensions that define life in the present. The other couple's

Two days later, Ursula and Gudrun go to the empty house in
suspicions are aroused by the odd situation of being offered a
Beldover to get Ursula's belongings. The house is frightening to
chair that was just bought. Ursula blindly explains they've
both of them and they wonder how they lived there. They wait
chosen a life without a home. She does not recognize this
for Rupert in their parents' former bedroom. Ursula says their
choice, like her choice to forego a traditional marriage, is a
parents' lives seem meaningless and she would run away from
choice she has because she is privileged. The young woman
the prospect of such a life. They both agree having a home is
would clearly like to make the same choice Ursula is making. It
something they don't want. As they drive away, Gudrun feels
is as obvious as her pregnant belly she is already bound to a
her own dissatisfaction with life and envies Ursula. She decides
path and this is not an option for her. Whatever love existed
marriage and a home will fill her emptiness. Back in her rented
between this woman and man has been snuffed out by
room in Willey Green, she stands before her enormous clock
weariness and difficulties of being poor and preparing to raise
and feels its painted face is gazing at her as if to consume her.
a child.
The next afternoon Gudrun visits Ursula and asks if she knows
about Gerald's idea for a trip abroad. Ursula says she knows
because Gerald told Rupert. This bothers Gudrun deeply, and

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Women in Love Study Guide Chapter Summaries 49

she tells Ursula Gerald took "an unpardonable liberty" by just as she watches it.
speaking of it to Rupert. Ursula praises Gerald as "lovable" and
"free" and suggests they all go to the snowy Tyrol with Gerald.
Gudrun suggests Gerald sleeps around with loose women and Chapter 28
he should take one of them with him to Tyrol instead.

With Christmas around the corner, Gerald and Gudrun depart
In this chapter Ursula makes a break with her family and her
for their journey to Tyrol. They stop in London for a night. They
home where she grew up, the container for much unhappiness
have plans to travel from there through Paris and on to
and frustration. Ursula has moved out of this container,
Innsbruck, where Ursula and Rupert will meet up with them.
showing she has moved out of the extreme inwardness in
which she lived when the book opens. She has now become During their night in London, Gerald and Gudrun go to the
the more adventurous of the two sisters, reversing the Pompadour, a place Gudrun hates but feels compelled to
situation when they first discussed the prospect of marriage. return to. Julius Halliday, Maxim Libidnikov, and the Pussum are
Ursula admired Gudrun for her adventurousness in leaving at a table in the corner. The Pussum approaches Gerald and,
home to go live in London as an artist. Now Gudrun observes barely acknowledging Gudrun, asks whether Rupert is really
Ursula's adventurousness with a sense of envy and insecurity. married and whether Gerald is having a good time. She
expresses a desire for Gerald to come to Julius's apartment.
This hidden envy points at a growing split between the sisters
Gudrun realizes Gerald and the Pussum have been lovers.
who have at times been so close and so aligned with each
other. So does the fact they each lie to the other during the Gudrun listens as Halliday and his friends begin drunkenly to
course of this chapter. Ursula knows about the proposed trip mock Rupert, saying "he is as bad as Jesus." Halliday takes out
abroad because Gerald told her directly. Her lie, likely meant to a letter Rupert wrote him and reads it aloud, in a mock-
avoid an appearance of undue intimacy with Gerald, backfires. reverent tone, as if he were reading the Bible. The letter
Gudrun grows sullen because she feels her sexual relationship discusses the journey backward toward the self's origin and
with Gerald has been exposed, without her will or consent, to advises Julius on how he might achieve this with the Pussum.
Rupert. Maxim says Rupert is a maniac who has delusions of saving
Gudrun keeps hidden from Ursula her secret desire for a
traditional life of home and marriage. Her sense of emptiness Enraged, Gudrun sends Gerald away to pay the bill and
and fear, rather than her belief in the lifestyle, drives her to approaches Halliday's table. She asks to see the letter and
embrace this as a solution. She, like Ursula, finds the example then walks out the door with Gerald, the letter in her
of their parents' life and marriage to be frightening in its possession. In the taxi to the hotel, Gudrun explains what
meaninglessness. Yet Gudrun does not seem to see another happened, and Gerald expresses approval of her taking the
option. Her encounter with the clock, which assumes the letter. Saying she "could have killed" those "dogs," Gudrun is
sinister aspect of a living presence that feeds on her energy, taken with a desire to leave London immediately and never
conveys Gudrun's sense of urgency. Something should have return.
already happened by now. Because it hasn't happened, she
has no more imagination than to imagine a life much like her
own parents'. In this way Gudrun's turning toward the idea of Analysis
marriage mirrors Gerald. For both of them, there is nothing
idealistic about it. It is a practical stance adopted as a result of The scene at the Pompadour is the last time the novel will
a sense the pressure is on each of them to make some sort of show Gudrun and Gerald in England. It functions to highlight
choice. For Gerald the imagery associated with this choice is the changes Gerald and Gudrun have undergone and the
of stumbling out of the woods on to a dark road. For Gudrun transition they are currently undergoing.
the choice is signified by the sinister clock that watches her

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Women in Love Study Guide Chapter Summaries 50

Gudrun is drawn to the Pompadour out of pure hatred. Feeling entered the snow-covered mountains, the world, at last, seems
this hatred has the effect of giving her a sense of pleasure, new to Ursula.
perhaps bolstering her confidence in her decision to leave
England behind. The immature behavior of the Possum and That evening, they arrive at their hotel in snowy Innsbruck,

Halliday's entire party makes it easy for good Gudrun to feel Austria. Gudrun is delighted and surprised to see her sister a

justification in her hate. She was once among this crowd, living day early, and the two sisters talk privately. Gudrun describes

a bohemian lifestyle in London. While they have all remained the scene at the Pompadour, and Ursula asks Gudrun for the

the same, she has had a wealth of experience and is continuing letter. Gudrun doesn't want to give it up and changes the

to move onward. subject to her time in Paris. She praises the drunken artists in
Paris as "people that matter" and notes Gerald was irresistibly
Their mockery of Rupert's letter gives Gudrun the opportunity charming to all the women.
to claim a clear moral high ground. Whether or not Rupert is as
pompous and deluded as Halliday and his friends claim, they At dinner they discuss how Innsbruck is so wonderful and

are worse. These "bohemians" are not artists but rather mere different from England. Gudrun says the snow "exalts

gossips with habits of drunkenness and promiscuity. Their "art" everything" and here, "one really does feel ... more than

is the cheap pleasure they derive from tearing down the ideas human." They debate whether England will collapse or will find

of others. Gudrun herself has done a fair share of mocking a way to survive.

Rupert, even mocking him with Gerald in the back seat of a car
The following day they arrive at Hohenhausen, a remote valley
while he drives them. Now she acts in a manner that suggests
in the Austrian state of Tyrol. It is covered in snow and
she has developed a sense of loyalty to him, her sister's
surrounded by a wall of high, black mountains. Gudrun runs
husband. For Gudrun the episode symbolizes the rottenness of
toward the mountains. Gerald follows her through "the perfect
England. Her strengthened repulsion helps propel her forward
silence" that is "terrifying, isolating the soul, surrounding the
on her journey, eliminating the possibility of backward-looking
heart with frozen air." Running through the snow with Rupert,
Ursula exclaims at the newness of this world. A sledge, or
sleigh, conveys the four the rest of the way to the inn where
they will stay.
Chapter 29
In their room at the inn, Gudrun looks out the window and
becomes entranced by the view. It is described as "This was
Summary the center ... the navel of the world, where the earth belonged
to the skies, pure, unapproachable, impassable." Gerald knows
As the day of departure for Tyrol approaches, Ursula feels she he is now alone, for inside herself she has retreated from him
has ceased to exist. Her soul reawakens as she watches and placed herself in those mountains. She remains distant
England recede into nothingness during the overnight crossing during sex, while Gerald finds bliss.
by ship from Dover, England, to Ostend, Belgium. Spending
They go downstairs and meet Rupert and Ursula in the dining
that night coiled up together in a nook on the ship's deck,
room for coffee and cake. Music draws them into the
Ursula and Rupert experience a union with each other. All they
reunionsaal, or living room, where they meet the other guests,
know falls away and is replaced by darkness. In this darkness
none of whom are English. They join the audience as Herr
Ursula senses the "effulgence of a paradise unknown," which
Loerke, a small man with quick eyes, gives a monologue in
lies ahead. Rupert is fully in the present, experiencing for the
German that sends the room into uncontrollable laughter.
first time in his life "an utter and absolute peace."
Following this, Gudrun plays piano and Ursula sings for the
They dock at Ostend and board a train to Basel, Switzerland. "admiring and radiant" room.
Passing through the European countryside, she is reminded of
After dinner Ursula insists they go outside to have a look.
her childhood on a farm in England. Ursula realizes this is still
Ursula experiences the cold as malevolent but the silent snow
the old world, not the new one she hoped for. She turns inward
as intoxicating. Rupert says he loves her and would be killed by
again. When they have passed Zurich, Switzerland, and
this place without her. When a man with a lantern goes into the

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Women in Love Study Guide Chapter Summaries 51

outhouse, Ursula is reminded again of her childhood. She lets women are attracted to Loerke because they "want to explore
the past go, giving herself fully to the union with Rupert in "the the sewers."
heat of reality, where she had never existed before."
Meanwhile, Gudrun and Gerald walk toward the end of the One evening Loerke shows Gudrun a picture of a statue he

valley. Gudrun believes by climbing the peaks there, "she would made of a young naked girl sitting on a horse in a posture of

be a oneness with all, she would be herself the eternal, infinite shame. Ursula criticizes the rendering of the horse. Loerke

silence, the sleeping, timeless, frozen center of the all." replies condescendingly it is merely "a piece of form" unrelated
to anything but itself. Embarrassed, Gudrun chastises Ursula
Back inside, the four join in a Tyrolese dance. Gudrun senses for her insistence it is a horse. She agrees with Loerke about
Herr Loerke's interest in her, despite his aloofness. She dances the separation between "the relative world of action" and "the
with his friend Leitner instead. Gerald dances with one of the absolute world of art." Ursula counters the sculpture reflects
professor's daughters, and she instantly falls in love with him. Loerke's own experience and his ideas about art reflect his
Rupert and Ursula dance together, and Rupert frightens Ursula inability to look clearly at himself. Loerke describes working
with his mocking, animalistic energy. That night in bed, the with the girl who was his model, whom he beat to keep still.
same energy troubles Ursula, but she submits, deciding it's OK While men are good at any age, Loerke claims, women are
to be "bestial" and engage in "dark shameful things." useless to him past the age of 20.

Gudrun realizes Gerald is not monogamous by nature and Ursula is filled with urgency to leave the snow world, which has
resolves to fight him, knowing that "one of them must triumph become oppressive. Rupert says they will leave for Verona,
over the other." Gerald alludes to Gudrun's interest in Loerke, Italy, the following day. When Ursula tells Gudrun they are
which she denies. Back in their room, Gudrun feels afraid of leaving, she realizes Gudrun and Gerald will be glad to be left
Gerald standing behind her. Dissolving the tension by having alone. Gudrun gives Ursula some brightly colored stockings
him hand her something, she remarks upon the amorous effect and asks if Ursula is making a permanent spiritual departure
he had on the girl he danced with. The next morning she from her and Gerald. Tension arises between them as they
imagines him fixing "the problem of industrialism in the modern discuss their thoughts about finding a new world. Gudrun tells
world" before deciding he is too good for "the game." She her everywhere one goes, ideas—such as the supremacy of
smiles and, seized with delight, kisses him passionately, as love—are the same. Ursula counters that "love is too human
someone outside sings a song that is instantly fixed forever and little" and she and Rupert seek something unknown and
within Gudrun. inhuman, beyond love.

The next day Gudrun and Gerald go sledding. Outside, Gudrun Meanwhile, Gerald tells Rupert he may not return from this
is transformed into "a pure thoughtless crystal," merging world. He says Gudrun "seems like the end" for him, despite a
entirely with the snow peaks. Gudrun tells Gerald the downhill certain hatred he feels for her. Gerald is skeptical when Rupert
sled ride "was the complete moment of my life." They spend claims to have loved him. Riding away on the sleigh with Ursula,
the first several days in such sport, losing themselves in Rupert feels his heart freeze.
"velocity and weight and eternal, frozen snow."

Snowed in a few days later, Gudrun hopes to talk to Loerke, Analysis

who has thus far kept his distance. That afternoon Gudrun
joins in a conversation between Loerke and Ursula. Loerke has Of all the characters, it is Gudrun Brangwen who is truly at
been commissioned to do a large granite frieze outside a home in the remote Tyrolese valley. To Gudrun it is the center
factory. He describes his philosophy of art, the poverty of his of creation, the place wherein she might at last experience the
childhood, and how he became an artist. Loerke's frankness, spiritual fulfillment she has never known before. Its effect on
single-minded focus on his art, and impoverished background her is spell-like. She is bound there because her
attract Gudrun. Ursula also likes Loerke, but both Rupert and "consummation" waits for her in the high peaks that form the
Gerald find him despicable and the women's fascination with view from the inn. Ursula at first finds a deep sense of newness
the man incomprehensible. Rupert says Loerke "lives like a rat, and wonder within the snow-filled valley of Tyrol. However, her
in the river of corruption ... further on than we are." He says sense of freedom and joy is shortly replaced by a feeling of

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Women in Love Study Guide Chapter Summaries 52

being trapped there. She has to remember she is free to leave. wants her own room. Later, when she comes to him for sex,
Once she does, she and Rupert immediately depart. Ursula, in she feels the sex is killing her.
letting go of her past and accepting the dark, shameful side of
life, has done all the work she came to do in Tyrol. Gerald considers his options. He can't stand the feeling of
"sheer nothingness" of leaving her and being alone. He might
Rupert and Gerald both feel the terror of the place. Rupert has submit to her will, he might kill her, or he might retreat into
no affinity for it. It is only Ursula's warm vitality that keeps him apathy. He vows not to leave her, despite her hostility and
alive there. Gerald is bound there because he is bound to distance. At sunset, jealous of her rapture as she watches the
Gudrun in a way he attempts to explain to Rupert. This light, he tells her one day he will destroy her while she watches
bondage is a strange mixture of passion, violence, hate, and the sunset.
destruction. Gerald does communicate clearly his sense his
end will come here. Rupert accepts this after gentle protest, Gudrun feels close to Loerke and spends her moments free

seeing Gerald is already not himself. Earlier in the novel, Rupert from Gerald with him, discussing art. They agree life doesn't

has already intuited Gerald is a messenger of the snow matter and one's true being is in one's art.

destruction that is the destined end of the white race. His heart
During a heated discussion between Gerald and Loerke,
freezing as he departs seems to confirm this as well as
Gudrun corrects Loerke when he refers to her as Gerald's wife.
underscoring the real love Rupert has for Gerald.
Gerald is calm and still, and the power swings back in his

The arrival of Herr Loerke and Gudrun's firsthand observation direction because he keeps his reaction hidden from Gudrun.

of the sexual magic Gerald works on the professor's daughter This shift reignites Gudrun's passion for Gerald, but when they

transform Gerald and Gudrun into enemies. With their interest have sex, he gives no sign of his state of mind.

in other people obvious to each of them, the pretense of love is

Gudrun and Loerke spend two whole days together, talking
stripped away. The core of their relationship is exposed for the
nonstop about art and the past. Loerke hates Gerald for his
violent power struggle it is. While their relationship has always
external qualities. He is confident he knows how to reach a
been characterized by shifts in power, these now become
woman deeply in ways Gerald does not. For Gudrun Gerald
dangerous. The spells they cast on each other previously were
meant the world. Now she is done with the world. All that
met with appreciation, mockery, or sexual passion. Now the
remains for her is to enter into "the obscene religious mystery
stakes have been raised and both Gerald and Gudrun know
of ultimate reduction." She knows she must leave Gerald but
they are engaged in a fight that will result in real death. At the
resolves not to let him kill her. Gerald demands to know the
water party in Chapter 14, before they were lovers, Gudrun told
reason for her fascination with Loerke, and Gudrun says
Gerald she would be the one to deal the last blow between
Loerke understands women and isn't stupid.
them. He did not deny this then, and he seems to accept he will
die here as a result of his bondage to Gudrun. Loerke urges Gudrun to join him in Dresden where she can
work in his studio. He claims to detest love but then asks for
her love in the form of "a little companionship in intelligence."
Chapter 30 He begins to speak about their shared fate but then stops

Gerald returns at dark from a long, happy day of skiing alone.

Summary He is seized by the idea killing Gudrun would be the final,
"perfect voluptuous consummation" of his desire. Dead, she
The relationship between Gerald Crich and Gudrun Brangwen
would be his forever. These thoughts consume him as Gudrun
devolves into a frightening conflict of will after Ursula
tells him she won't return to England. He lunges at her violently,
Brangwen and Rupert Birkin leave. Immediately after they
but she escapes to her room. She is confident she will win the
leave, Gerald enters Gudrun's room and admits he doesn't love
"fight to the death" with Gerald. She believes she will be able to
her and never will. Meanwhile, he is inwardly consumed with
free herself from him once she demonstrates she is not afraid
the idea he can free himself by killing her. Gudrun hates him
of him. She becomes consumed with the perception she
but forces him to say he will love her always. She tells him she
stands outside her life watching the time tick away relentlessly,

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Women in Love Study Guide Chapter Summaries 53

like a clock. She compares her own face to that of a clock. She was trivial. She imbued her communication of triviality with a
decides Gerald is nothing more than an "infant crying in the direct, willful gaze at Gerald. This left him bound and in a mood
night," needing her to mother him to sleep. of good-natured appreciation at her power. But now, the
consequences of putting a spell on a man such as Gerald are
Morning comes, and Gerald makes plans to depart with coming around, and they meet Gudrun with the face of death.
Gudrun the following day before setting out to ski alone. Aware She could not have imagined this, although she was correct
that death lurks near, Gudrun feels enlivened by the open her destiny would be shared with him and cast in arctic light.
possibilities of what tomorrow could bring. That afternoon, she What she did not anticipate was she was willfully involving
and Loerke go out sledding. At dusk, as they are picnicking in herself with a man who belonged to death. Ursula told Gudrun
the snow, Loerke reiterates Gudrun ought to come to Gerald had killed his brother when they were boys. She
Germany. suggested the killing was not accidental but rather the
expression of a primal desire to kill. Gudrun could have taken
Suddenly Gerald appears. Gudrun is terrified. Loerke raises a
this as a warning. Instead she dismissed it, opposing her sister
bottle in acknowledgment of Gerald's presence, and Gerald
in claiming the event was horrifying precisely because it was
knocks him senseless into the snow. Gudrun punches Gerald in
purely accidental.
the face, and he begins to choke her. He is about to kill her
when he is weakened by a wave of disgust that he would care Gerald's jealousy and anguish grow the more Gudrun closes
so much about Gudrun as to take her life away. He stumbles herself to him and opens herself to her connections to the
off aimlessly up the side of the mountain, ready for it all to end. mountains and to Herr Loerke. This leaves Gerald with the
Coming across a crucifix in the snow, he is convinced he will terror of death in his heart and a regard of Herr Loerke as
be murdered. He slips, and his fall breaks his soul and puts him despicable. Gudrun bound him to her. She has also left him
instantly to sleep. alone in his bondage and forced him to witness her
experiencing connections he has no part in.

Analysis He finally makes the connection between his sexual lust for
Gudrun and his increasingly strong desire to kill her. He
The chapter opens with a dialogue between Gudrun and realizes to kill her would be the "perfect voluptuous
Gerald about whether or not Gerald loves her and the meaning consummation" his soul craves. Gudrun has decided to reach
of love. It reads like a warped version of the dialogues that the place just beyond the visible mountains would bring her the
happened so frequently earlier in the novel between Ursula and "consummation" she seeks. This sets the stage for the final
Rupert. Like Rupert, Gerald also feels oppressed by Gudrun's showdown. Each pursuing their individual fulfillment, they
insistence on defining their feelings toward each other in terms encounter each other in the mountains. Gerald has the
of the word love. However, Gerald reacts quite differently than advantage of surprise, while Gudrun has the advantage of
Rupert, because of his sense of frustration. Rupert never stops Loerke's presence. The victory would have easily been
his attempts to express a positive vision for how life could look Gerald's. However, his own nature—which demands he remain
within the confines of a relationship between men and women. indifferent, unconnected, and uninvolved—reverses the
He called it "freedom together." Gerald, too, envisions freedom outcome. Rupert was right in claiming murder only happens
as the solution. But he is in bondage to Gudrun, and freedom between one who desires to murder and one who desires to be
can only come by killing her. Like Rupert, Gerald also finally murdered. It is Gerald, not Gudrun, who is the murderable one.
consents to his woman's demands he tell her he loves her. Gudrun is the murderer—a feat she accomplishes without
However, Gudrun uses her triumph in squeezing these words lifting a finger.
out of Gerald as an occasion to strike at Gerald. She makes an
allusion to their sex life, implying the expression of his sexual
desire proves he has just uttered a lie. Chapter 31
It was Gudrun who began this diabolical association with
Gerald. In Chapter 11 Gudrun placed the blame on Gerald for
her sketchbook falling into the water while claiming the matter

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Women in Love Study Guide Chapter Summaries 54

contradict it. This philosophy has likely never been challenged

Summary by such a difficult and significant situation as this complex
encounter with another man's death. He does not like Gudrun
When the body is recovered and news of Gerald Crich's death
asking him this question, and he is "crushed," although without
reaches Gudrun Brangwen the following morning, she wonders
definite emotion. These things suggest Loerke is attempting to
how she should respond. She asks Loerke if they have killed
push away a sense of responsibility he finds threatening to his
Gerald, and he says, "It has happened." She sends Ursula and
Rupert a telegram. They arrive two days later. She describes
the encounter with Gerald to Rupert in a way that suggests Though Rupert Birkin and Ursula Brangwen arrive swiftly in
there was a love triangle with her, Gerald, and Loerke. She response to Gudrun's summons, it is clear Gerald's death will
knows the conflict was between her and Gerald alone. forever alter the relationship between the two sisters. Ursula's
emotional outpouring of grief is so different from Gudrun's
Rupert Birkin goes to see Gerald's frozen corpse and is
coldness. Ursula intuits there is something corrupt and dark
horrified, feeling his heart is freezing, too. He is unable to
about her sister. Rupert understands more than Ursula does.
reconcile his love for Gerald with the corpse's "almost
Gerald told him of his premonition Gudrun would be his end.
venomous" cold. He goes to the spot where Gerald died and
Rupert also has his theory murder only happens between two
imagines his friend might have gone to the warm south instead.
willing parties, a murderer and a man who is murderable. He
He then questions whether south represents a way out or
has known since Chapter 2 Gerald was murderable. All clues
another way in. He decides it is better not to care and to limit
point, for Rupert, toward Gudrun being the murderer.
his struggle to himself, rather than take on the whole universe.
He is comforted by the idea man is disposable to God: an error It is Rupert for whom this death is the greatest tragedy. He
that can be removed and replaced by something better. repeatedly sits by the corpse, weeping, and ventures out into
the terrifying snow to visit the spot where the body was found.
That evening Ursula finds Rupert weeping by Gerald's corpse.
This confirms the depth of his love for Gerald. Rupert
Rupert regrets when he clasped Gerald's hand, Gerald let go,
compares the appearance of Gerald's corpse to that of his
because this eradicated the possibility their union would be
father, Thomas. He recalls the lifelike, youthful beauty of
permanent and outlast death. Gerald's corpse has only a look
Thomas Crich's corpse. The image contrasts starkly with the
of "cold, mute matter." Rupert tells Ursula they shouldn't fear
appearance of Gerald's corpse as inanimate matter bearing no
death, for their bond will surpass it.
resemblance to the person Gerald was. Rupert knows this
Gerald is buried in England, and Gudrun goes to Dresden. A means Gerald went willingly to his death. Mrs. Crich became
week after returning home, Ursula asks Rupert why he needed angry and admonished her children not to go to their deaths
Gerald in addition to her. She tells him it is impossible to have unwillingly. Gerald soothed his mother, assuring her it wouldn't
the two unions, one with a man and one with a woman, he happen again. Now he has fulfilled his promise to his mother by
seeks. Rupert says, "I don't believe that." willingly going to his death. But for Rupert, this is not the
positive it would be for Mrs. Crich. Rather, it pains him and
makes him feel as if he should forever turn away from all
Analysis concern with the problems of humanity. He should instead
focus exclusively on his own happiness. He returns to his old
In this chapter Lawrence resolves the plot by presenting the idea of a permanent union outlasting death. He feels he could
emotional responses of the major characters to the death of have had this with Gerald if Gerald had not let go of Rupert's
Gerald Crich. Gudrun Brangwen, lacking an emotional and hand the one time they clasped hands. He uses this same idea
moral compass of her own, turns to Herr Loerke for to comfort himself regarding his relationship with Ursula. They
confirmation of their own innocence regarding Gerald's death. are beyond death, having committed fully to each other, and
In seeking Loerke's opinion, Gudrun is not seeking to relieve need not fear it.
her conscience. She is seeking clues about what an
The very end shows Gudrun makes a clean break with her
appropriate response to the situation would look like so she
entire past, choosing an immoral life of art in Dresden with
may mimic it. Loerke's response is ambiguous, suggesting he
Loerke. The novel closes with Rupert and Ursula resuming
feels his philosophy of life and art challenged but is unwilling to

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Women in Love Study Guide Quotes 55

their familiar old argument. Though his experience with Gerald

intrinsically other, that there is no
seems to deny the possibility of a permanent union with both
man and woman, Rupert still believes it could be. Ursula, the term of comparison."
weight of evidence on her side, argues against this. The last
two lines of the novel are a description of this disagreement — Rupert Birkin, Chapter 8
suggesting nothing is ever really resolved in the struggle to
understand life. It also suggests Ursula and Rupert have an
Rupert Birkin corrects Hermione Roddice for her careless
oppositional balance together with the fulfillment of the ideal
statement suggesting society's problems would be solved by
Rupert always promoted. Ursula has not been absorbed into
the recognition of the spiritual equality of all persons. Rupert
his beliefs, nor he into hers. Their continuing opposition will
argues the opposite, claiming the equal distribution of rights
keep them both alive and alert to their thirst for truth. They will
necessitates the recognition each person is different, not all
continue to seek it—and perhaps approach it—but they will
people are the same. Hermione's argument sameness is the
never reach it. Yet it is this continual back-and-forth, this
foundation of rights has the potential to produce a society
weighing of experience against ideas, this unending dialogue,
where individuals are denied rights, or persecuted when they
that will give their lives meaning.
are different. Birkin himself is a man apart, a true individual. His
emphasis on the utter individuality of people is also a part of
his conception of ideal love.
g Quotes

"There was always a ... chink in her "'Yes' ... and tried to regain her
armor ... [S]he had no natural mind. Use all her will as she might,
sufficiency, there was a terrible she could not recover. She
void, a lack, a deficiency of being suffered the ghastliness of
within her." dissolution."

— Narrator, Chapter 8
— Narrator, Chapter 1

When Hermione Roddice comes upon Rupert Birkin making a

When Hermione Roddice first appears in the novel in Chapter 1,
copy of a drawing of geese, he feels drained by her demand to
the narrator describes her in great detail. The description
know what knowledge he gets from the activity. Birkin tells her
illuminates not only her external mode of being but explains the
in copying the drawing, he acquires a visceral understanding of
defect of the core of her character. The narrator claims her
the mysteries of being a goose and feels what they feel.
embrace of social change and intellectual ideas and her
Hermione cannot understand such knowledge, which is beyond
attachment to Birkin are ways of trying to fill her emptiness. By
the limits of the intellect, and her will breaks as she struggles
performing outwardly, Hermione gives a convincing impression
to find a response. Rupert's words were like a key to crack
of being a complete, fully functioning human being. However,
Hermione. They throw her out of her power and force her to
as the novel will show, she collapses utterly whenever her
undergo a kind of ego death. She remains in a sick trance until
outward performance is threatened.
her attempt to murder Birkin with a paperweight brings it to an

"One man isn't any better than

another, not because they are "He took off his clothes, and sat
equal, but because they are

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Women in Love Study Guide Quotes 56

down naked among the primroses thousands.'"

... lying down and letting them
— Gerald Crich, Chapter 14
touch his belly ... He seemed to
saturate himself with their Gerald dives repeatedly into the cold depths of Willey Water to
find his sister Diana. His family and friends make him give up
contact." the fruitless search, lest he endangers his own life. These
words, spoken to Gudrun, express the deep nihilism at Gerald's
— Narrator, Chapter 8 core. Having been in grips of death ever since he killed his
brother as a child, Gerald's life has been stunted with suffering
Having entered Hermione's study to apologize to her, Birkin and meaninglessness. Rather than continue a living death, he
finds himself the victim of attempted murder. Hermione, under expresses a desire to move through to his actual death. His
the spell of her violent subconscious, tries to crack his skull repeated dives into the lake have shown him just how easy that
with a paperweight. Birkin manages to escape Breadalby and would be.
takes refuge in the nature of the surrounding countryside. His
sensuous, full-body contact with the plants of the forest calms
him. He decides his place is not with people, but in the "Instead of chopping yourself
nonhuman world of nature.
down to fit the world, chop the
world down to fit yourself."
"And if you don't believe in love,
— Rupert Birkin, Chapter 16
what do you believe in? ... Simply in
the end of the world, and grass?" Rupert Birkin and Gerald Crich discuss Gerald's precocious,
singular teenage sister Winifred. His dying father's wish is to
— Ursula Brangwen, Chapter 11 put Winifred on a path that honors her unique nature. This
would be better than subjecting her to the traditional path of
In their first philosophical conversation, Rupert Birkin school and marriage. Birkin agrees a person such as Winifred
expresses the desire that humanity should be eradicated. He needs to be able to live in a world of her own. Here, he
claims what remained would be a beautiful world, which he expresses this thought pithily.
describes as a "world empty of people, just uninterrupted
grass, and a hare sitting up." Ursula finds this to be a pleasing
image but understands it is a simplification and a fantasy. Her "The centralizing force that had
real annoyance is with his claim he loves neither individuals nor
humanity. She finds this hypocritical in light of his continuing
held the whole together seemed
pursuit of relationships and his employment in the schools. to collapse with his father, the
parts were ready to go asunder in
"'If you once die,' he said, 'then terrible disintegration."
when it's over, it's finished. Why
— Narrator, Chapter 17
come to life again? There's room
under that water there for The lingering death of Gerald's father is agonizing for Gerald.
This is in part because Gerald now realizes the values his

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Women in Love Study Guide Quotes 57

father held, which he always opposed, are the values that gave wrestling ends.
his life a sense of coherence and meaning. With his father
gone, these values will also die. Gerald will struggle to exist,
having nothing to oppose or improve upon. This is in fact what "One should die quickly, like the
happens, and Gerald's death follows not long after his father's.
Romans, one should be master of
one's fate in dying as in living."
"She who could never suffer,
because she never formed vital — Narrator, Chapter 21

connections ... she must be the

Gerald suffers greatly as his father lingers in his illness,
object of her father's final refusing stubbornly to die. He feels as if the excruciatingly slow
process of death is happening to him, and he must bear the
passionate solicitude."
torment of it passively. It is his father's will, not his own, that is
controlling the process. The philosophy of death Gerald
— Narrator, Chapter 17 expresses here also foreshadows how he will go to his own
Thomas Crich has spent his lifetime treating his mine workers
with love and charity. Now on his deathbed, Thomas becomes
obsessed with ensuring his precocious daughter Winifred will "It is not a picture of a friendly
have a life that will not crush her freedom. Winifred represents
a new kind of person. Her nihilism is playful, not hateful and
horse to which you give a lump of
mocking, and she is utterly self-sufficient. Thomas senses sugar ... it is part of a work of art, it
Winifred is the only one of his family equipped to navigate the
new era. He takes steps to help her do so by hiring Gudrun has no relation to anything outside
Brangwen as her governess.
that work of art."

— Herr Loerke, Chapter 29

"It was as if Birkin's whole physical
intelligence interpenetrated into Ursula Brangwen criticizes Herr Loerke's statue of a horse for

Gerald's body ... through the not capturing the essence of a horse. His retort encapsulates
the essence of his nihilistic view of art and life. To Loerke art is
muscles into the very depths of not a means of going deeper into life. It is a separate, ideal
realm of absolute form, whose meaning exists apart from any
Gerald's physical being."
relation to the relative world. Ursula doesn't buy this and snaps
the horse is actually a reflection of his own experience, but he
— Narrator, Chapter 20 is too proud to see it.

Rupert Birkin proposes he and Gerald Crich wrestle jujitsu

style as a way to overcome Crich's sense of boredom and "She felt that there ... among the
meaninglessness. Their naked, private wrestling has more in
common with a transcendent sexual experience than with
final cluster of peaks, there, in the
combative sport. Indeed, they are experiencing a lover's infolded navel of it all, was her
intimacy under the pretense of manly athletics. It is this
pretense that allows them to maintain their distance once the consummation."

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Women in Love Study Guide Symbols 58

— Narrator, Chapter 29 more concise. In a manner that recalls Birkin's dynamic with
Ursula, Loerke expresses a revulsion for love. Then, in the next
breath, he expresses the desire to have a love relationship with
In Tyrol Gudrun is deeply compelled by the mountains, so much
Gudrun. Like Birkin, he wants to give the word his own meaning
so Gerald becomes jealous of her connection to them. Her
and disparage all other interpretations.
feeling ultimate satisfaction will come by journeying into the
mountains foreshadows the resolution of her power struggle
with Gerald. This event occurs while Gudrun is picnicking in the

l Symbols
mountains. Symbolically, Gudrun is also moving toward a
startling coldness of personality, which matches the terrifying
coldness of the mountains.

"There would be no shameful thing
she had not experienced .... Why
In Chapter 9 Ursula and Gudrun Brangwen find themselves
not? She was free, when she knew stopped at a railroad crossing along with Gerald Crich, who is

everything, and no dark shameful mounted upon a beautiful female horse. As the train grows
nearer, its noise sends the horse into convulsions of terror and
things were denied her." she attempts to flee. Gerald grips the reins, as oblivious to the
horse's terror as he is to Ursula's screams to let the horse go.
— Narrator, Chapter 29 Indeed, he seems oblivious to everything other than the
actualization of his own will. The horse's attempts to assert her
will and throw off her rider are like sporting amusement for
In Tyrol Ursula is troubled by Birkin's animalistic energy, both in
Gerald. He throws his own weight against hers and forces her
his dancing and later in bed. She realizes it arouses a sense of
to spin in circles. Gerald's will wins. Ursula's empathy for the
shame in her and, analyzing it, decides it is pointless and she
horse sends her into a horrified rage and strikes Gudrun so
will let it go. This is yet another step in Ursula's transformation
deeply within herself she dissociates from normal
into the confident self-realized woman she knew she would
become at the novel's start.
The language D.H. Lawrence uses to describe Gerald's
position with regard to the horse has overtones of sexuality.
"'I detest it ... Women and love, Prior to the episode of terror, Gerald is "pleased with the
delicate quivering of the creature between his knees." During
there is no greater tedium,' he the struggle, Gerald brings "her down, almost as if she were
cried ... This was her own basic part of his own physique." Indeed, Gudrun is fascinated by the
control he has over the horse, as if he were demonstrating his
feeling. Men, and love—there was sexual prowess. The episode ends with the horse bleeding
no greater tedium." from Gerald's spurs, while Gerald retains his calm composure.

The train that has horrified the horse is another expression of

— Narrator, Chapter 30 Gerald's will because he is in charge of the mines. He has
mastered inert matter. By controlling the horse in front of the
As Gudrun Brangwen discusses her next move with Herr horrified women, he also demonstrates his mastery over other
Loerke, her suggestion of Paris is met with his exclamation animals. He shows an indifference to the opinions of others. He
against love. Loerke is saying something Rupert Birkin has makes no concession to gentleness out of respect for the
often felt and expressed, but his manner of speech is much women who are watching him. In fact, when Gudrun rushes the
gate to push it open and screams at Gerald for his pride, he is

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Women in Love Study Guide Symbols 59

merely intrigued. The whole episode could become, for him, a surface of the water.
successful flirtation.

Later on, Ursula tells Gerald he was wrong to treat the horse
that way. Gerald is not offended. He is beyond morality. He Carpet
merely explains to her it was a battle of wills. Because he is the
man, his will must be the victorious one. That quality of
unrelenting will, in fact, is what makes a man. In this way the
After she attempts to murder him with a paperweight,
victimized horse becomes a symbol of the horrors the
Hermione Roddice comes to the millhouse where Rupert Birkin
unchecked masculine will inflicts on others. Such a will, devoid
plans to live. He has forgiven her for her violence, saying she
of empathy and seeking only to control, is a symbol of the
was justified, and invited her—along with Gerald Crich and
values that threaten to become the norm. It fills the vacuum
Ursula Brangwen—to view his rooms before they are furnished.
that has appeared as religion and the old values fall away.
Measurements for furnishing need to be taken, and Hermione
commandeers the activity as if it were her house, not Rupert's,
that was being evaluated. Rupert submits to her dominance,
Stoning the Moon having learned the brutal consequences of offending her will.
However, a brief power struggle erupts when Hermione tells
Rupert she wants to give him a carpet she owns for one of his
rooms. Rupert resists, telling Hermione he doesn't want her to
In Chapter 19 a nighttime walk through the woods brings give him things. Hermione responds, with a flirtatious tone, that
Ursula to the edge of the water, where she finds Rupert Birkin, she only wants to give him this thing. Rupert finally acquiesces
clearly angry. As Ursula walked, she had noticed the hard, cold and accepts the carpet, even though he clearly does not want
moon overhead and felt distressed by it. But Rupert, believing it. That fact does not matter to Hermione.
himself alone, is actually throwing rocks at the moon's
reflection on the pond's surface. He is trying to destroy the Because Hermione represents the attempts of the aristocratic
image of the moon on the water and momentarily sends it into elite to remain culturally relevant during the years leading up to
chaotic fragments. Yet time and again, the moon gathers its the First World War, her insistence upon giving the carpet to
reflection back together into wholeness. Rupert, who is not part of the elite but rather belongs to the
new intellectual class that is struggling the most with making
The moon is traditionally a symbol of the feminine. This sense of the world, symbolizes this cultural struggle. The
meaning is underscored by Rupert's cursing of Cybele and carpet itself, as a heavy, woolen, ornamental object brought to
Syria Dea, ancient female goddesses. Rupert's accusation is England by the imperial colonial trade of the previous
the feminine creates lies, which makes truth necessary. If it centuries, suggests the actions of smothering and covering,
weren't for female lies, there would be nothing to defend, he despite its external beauty. Rupert's rooms are stark and
thinks. Rupert, after all, consistently exhausts himself austere and totally empty, suggesting not only his personal
attempting to defend what he perceives to be the truth. transition from a relationship with Hermione to one with the
intellectually minded schoolteacher Ursula Brangwen, but also
In his stoning of the moon's reflection, Rupert is expressing his
his in-between position of having rejected the old ways but not
rage at a feminine power he perceives to be the source of all
yet settled on new ones and of belonging neither to the
his discontent and bondage. If the pond's surface is regarded
aristocratic elite nor the working class. Not only does
as symbolizing the conscious mind, Rupert's action becomes
Hermione attempt to hold on to Rupert by smothering his will
even clearer. It is his own consciousness that is persistently
with her own and inserting herself in his life, the aristocratic
disturbed, filled by the presence of the feminine. He tries to
class she represents attempts to ensure its fading dominance
eradicate his sexual passion. He attempts to arrive through
by smothering or covering the attempts of the new intellectual
intellectual gymnastics at conceptualizing a union with a
and artistic class to break free of old cultural forms and forge
woman that does not "stain" or intrude on his consciousness.
new ones.
However, he can no more separate the imprint of the feminine
on his psyche than he can drive the moon's reflection off the

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Women in Love Study Guide Themes 60

The editorial claims, "there must arise a man who will give new
Breadalby values to things, give us new truths, a new attitude to life ..."
The direness of the situation is not distant and theoretical but
is deeply felt by the novel's protagonists at every turn. Because
Breadalby, the Roddice family estate, symbolizes the sickness the idea of authority is itself obsolete, a subject of bitter
of the old ways that masquerade as venerable tradition but are mockery, the call for a savior of man rings hollow. Instead of
nothing more than elaborate prisons. Its appearance places it looking to political, religious, or cultural leaders, the characters
firmly in another era. As "a Georgian house," it is of an wrestle intimately with these issues in their private lives and
architectural style that was prominent during the 18th century. relationships.
Artistic Gudrun remarks the place is "as final as an old
One possible response to the crisis—perhaps the most
aquatint," a printmaking technique that was in common use
obvious—is to assume a pose of nihilism. The nihilist rejects all
during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. In Chapter 8
values and even the possibility of morality, embracing nothing
Ursula and Gudrun visit Breadalby after repeated invitations
but an ideal of destruction. At one time or another, all the four
from Hermione. They are aware the invitations are offered as
major characters—Ursula and Gudrun Brangwen, Rupert Birkin,
her way of portraying herself as liberated from the old
and Gerald Crich—take on a nihilistic attitude. Rupert Birkin's
aristocratic social rules. Those rules would preclude socializing
nihilism takes the form of his idea humanity is a mistake of
between someone of Hermione's class and two
creation that is best destroyed. He tells Ursula in Chapter 11, "I
schoolteachers. Ursula enjoys the feeling of the estate, which
abhor humanity, I wish it was swept away. It could go, and
seems somehow enclosed within "a magic circle ... shutting out
there would be no absolute loss, if every human being perished
the present, enclosing the delightful, precious past." The
tomorrow. The reality would be untouched. Nay, it would be
pretense and dullness that characterize their time there soon
better." Ursula argues with him, but in Chapter 15 she rejects
have her and Gudrun feeling repulsed. The entire visit is
life as unbearable because it is meaningless, and she
orchestrated according to Hermione's will. A simple walk in the
embraces death as the superior state. She says, "Was not the
park assumes a needless formality that gives its participants a
adventure of death infinitely preferable? Was not death
feeling of being "prisoners marshaled for exercise." Rupert
infinitely more lovely and noble than such a life? A life of barren
muses one morning during the visit the delightful appearance
routine, without inner meaning, without any real significance.
of the place is nothing more than a trick. Rupert is drawn out of
How sordid life was, how it was a terrible shame to the soul, to
a brief reverie by remembering "what a horrible, dead prison
live now! How much cleaner and more dignified to be dead!"
Breadalby really was, what an intolerable confinement, the
peace!" The nihilism of Rupert and Ursula is a temporary despair that
swings back toward an embrace of life. However, the
personalities of Gudrun and Gerald are inherently nihilistic. This
is expressed in Gudrun as cruelty and coldness: "Everything
m Themes turned to irony with her: the last flavor of everything was
ironical. When she felt her pang of undeniable reality, this was
when she knew the hard irony of hopes and ideas" (Chapter

Old Way versus New Way 29). This detached stance dissociates Gudrun from morality,
leading her to become involved in a power struggle to the
death with Gerald. Gerald has been set apart from life since
childhood, when a gun went off in his hands, killing his brother.
The characters in Women in Love are all aware life feels For a while, he has been able to find some sort of meaning,
meaningless. The values their parents held have become however external, in his work. Having perfected that, and with
obsolete. This is not merely a personal feeling, but a subject of his father dead, he is left to struggle intensely with the energy
public discourse. In Chapter 5 Gerald and Rupert find of death that has always filled his soul (Chapter 24). However,
themselves headed to London for business on the same train. he chooses Gudrun as the one to help him with this struggle, a
To fill their time, they discuss a newspaper editorial that calls choice that leads him shortly to his own death.
for a leader to prevent the certain collapse of British society.

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Women in Love Study Guide Themes 61

The alternative to nihilism and its attendants—hatred, cruelty, me, that does not meet and mingle, and never can." This love
and despair—is to continually struggle toward understanding. It requires the lover shed the ego and all connections to the
is the struggle that gives life meaning. The truth is only external world. In this sense the relationship becomes a
approached, never finally reached. This is underscored in the spiritual practice.
final sentences of the book. Having gone through the ordeal of
Gerald's death and Gudrun's departure, Ursula and Rupert Both Ursula and Rupert undergo this process of shedding the

continue to argue about what is possible in relationships. The outer self later in the novel. They experience it on their journey

novel ends with Rupert responding to Ursula, "I don't believe by boat from England to the European mainland in Chapter 29.

that." This statement of nonbelief is, in fact, an affirmation of They are curled up together on the ship's deck in the darkness

allegiance to life. Both Ursula and Rupert are invested in life of night. The narrator says that "they had ... forgotten ... all that

enough to continue engaging with it, despite the confusion of had been ... conscious only of this pure trajectory through the

being part of a society that has lost its way. surpassing darkness." Ursula goes further into this process in
the snowy mountains of the Tyrol. There she sheds the
baggage of the past to enter fully into her connection with
Rupert. The narrator says, "she belonged to ... a oneness that
Love and Relationships struck deeper notes, sounding into the heart of the universe,
the heart of reality ..." This process, as Rupert predicted,
strengthens their relationship. This new type of marriage and
love does not require the abandoning of a home and
In Chapter 5 Rupert Birkin asks Gerald Crich, "Do you think
possessions, as they had speculated earlier. After Gerald's
love is the be all and the end all of life?" Gerald is ambivalent,
death, they return to their life at the millhouse. It merely
and both agree they have never truly loved. Yet Rupert claims
requires the abandoning of one's emotional baggage and the
he imagines true love with a woman to be a "really pure single
cultivation of a radical openness.
activity." It is, therefore, the only thing that could give life
meaning, "seeing there's no God." His relationship with
Hermione Roddice, characterized by hatred, dominance, and
submission, reaches its peak of sickness in her attempt to Hatred, Violence, and Death
murder him. Then it becomes clear to Rupert the old way of
love is a straight passage to depravity and death.

Rupert begins applying himself in earnest to the task of Ursula Brangwen and Rupert Birkin seem to succeed in
redefining love and relationships with Ursula, the woman to replacing despair and isolation with a new kind of relationship.
whom he is drawn. He is unsatisfied with the type of love he However, the relationship between Gerald and Gudrun spirals
attributes to Ursula. It "seemed a dreadful bondage, a sort of into the opposite direction, becoming a conduit for hatred,
conscription" resulting in "a kaleidoscope of couples, disjoined, violence, and death. Ursula and Rupert approached their
separatist, meaningless entities of married couples." The man relationship with great intention, discussing it endlessly before
and woman lose their individuality to the relationship between they committed themselves to it. In contrast, Gerald and
them. In their "hot narrow intimacy," they become disconnected Gudrun do very little talking. Most of their communication prior
from all other possibilities of engaging with the world (Chapter to the consummation of their relationship is in the form of
16). In Chapter 11 Rupert describes the new idea of love that is wordless exchanges. These exchanges confirm their shared
forming within him. This love is a way to relate to one's partner. alignment with something that is the very opposite of life and
It is also a means of reaching the very core of the self and a hope. They are both "initiate" in the dark, "obscene" mysteries,
way of being that continues deeper when love fails. He says, as the episode with Winfred Crich's rabbit confirms in Chapter
"At the very last, one is alone, beyond the influence of love. 18. When they are not confirming their allegiance to this
There is a real impersonal me, that is beyond love, beyond any darkness, they engage in power plays that sometimes explode
emotional relationship. So it is with you. But we want to delude into violence, even before they are lovers. In Chapter 14
ourselves that love is the root. It isn't. It is only the branches. Gudrun hits Gerald in the face after he stops her dancing
The root is beyond love, a naked kind of isolation, an isolated toward his cattle. She tells him she shall be the one to strike

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Women in Love Study Guide Suggested Reading 62

the last blow in their relationship. They also bond over mocking Aesthetic Experience." The Journal of Speculative Philosophy,
Rupert's idealistic determination to find a sort of paradise vol. 20, no. 4, 2006, pp. 266–86.
through love. They confirm their shared idea of love as "real
abandon" (Chapter 21). Parker, David. "Into the Ideological Unknown: Women in Love."
The Rainbow and Women in Love, Cambridge UP, 1995, pp.
By abandon Gerald and Gudrun seem to mean a relationship 209–34.
characterized by unrestrained expression of the darkest parts
of the human soul. They proceed to engage in just that. Their
sexual encounters have a quality of violence and death that
becomes ever stronger the more the novel moves toward its
conclusion. Upon their first embrace, Gudrun "die[s] a little
death," and her lust is excited by the observation Gerald is
"such an unutterable enemy." Their first sexual encounter
occurs when Gerald sneaks uninvited into Gudrun's room,
where she lies in bed sleeping. He takes her and makes himself
whole by pouring "all his pent-up darkness and corrosive
death" into her body. He fills her with "the terrible frictional
violence of death" (Chapter 24).

Jealousy causes the relationship to enter the actual rather

than metaphorical territory of death in Chapter 30. Gerald
cannot stand Gudrun turns away from him when he finds
himself so deeply and torturously bonded to her. He becomes
obsessed with the idea of possessing her entirely by strangling
her. When he actually strangles her, Gerald's feelings are
described as explicitly sexual, positioning Gudrun's life leaving
her body as a metaphorical sexual climax. The narrator relates,
"The struggling was her reciprocal lustful passion in this
embrace ... the zenith was reached ... her movement became
softer, appeased." It is only hatred and disgust for Gudrun that
keep Gerald from actually killing her. He doesn't care enough
for her to kill her, he realizes. Dropping her near-lifeless body,
devoid of the hatred that was his last bond to the world, he
stumbles off apathetically to his own death.

e Suggested Reading
Chamberlain, Robert L. "Pussum, Minette, and the Africo-
Nordic Symbol in Lawrence's Women in Love." PMLA, vol. 78,
no. 4, 1963, pp. 407–16.

Eldred, Janet M. "Plot and Subplot in 'Women in Love.'" The

Journal of Narrative Technique, vol. 20, no. 3, 1990, pp. 284–95.

Lackey, Michael. "D.H. Lawrence's Women in Love: A Tale of

the Modernist Psyche, the Continental 'Concept,' and the

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