Mechanistic and Yogic Discourses in Women in Love

  • Charles Michael Burack


It has been observed that the world Ursula Brangwen inhabits at the beginning of Women in Love seems to be very different from the one she dwells in at the end of The Rainbow. Some critics have argued that the discrepancy indicates that the two novels do not form the “organic whole” that Lawrence had intended in “The Sisters” project.1 Others see the gloomier setting of the second novel as an extrapolation of the destructive tendencies present in the modern world of the first.2 My analysis of the language of the destructive and vivifying phases in Women in Love suggests that the novel is both an extension of and break with The Rainbow. The catastrophe of World War I, which Lawrence was experiencing as he wrote Women in Love, once titled Dies Irae (Day of Wrath), revealed to him that any hope he might have had for the rejuvenation of European civilization was idle.3 The war also incited in him a terrible misanthropy.4 The destructive social forces had triumphed, and the only solution now conceivable to him was a small-scale one: the self-renewal of a coterie of “natural aristocrats,” of a clan of couples willing to detach themselves from the decadent body politic and to “save” themselves by forming new types of relationships. As readers begin Women in Love, they discover that Ursula’s hopes have been turned topsy turvy: her vision of the rainbow has been inverted, darkened, and gone underground; it is now a vision of the pit, a hellish mine where “[m]an was the arch-god of earth” (223).


Sexual Encounter Feeling Body Mechanistic Science Black Magic Perfect Instrument 
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Chapter Four Mechanistic and Yogic Discourses in Women in Love

  1. 2.
    See P. T. Whelan, D. H. Lawrence: Myth and Metaphysic in “The Rainbow” and “Women in Love” (Ann Arbor and London: UMI Research Press, 1988) 175–82.Google Scholar
  2. 6.
    See Colin Clarke, River of Dissolution: D. H. Lawrence and English Romanticism (NewYork: Barnes and Noble, 1969).Google Scholar
  3. 13.
    See Ernst Haeckel, The Riddle of the Universe at the Close of the Nineteenth Century, trans. Joseph McCabe (NewYork and London: Harper and Brothers, 1900). Lawrence read Haeckel in 1908; see Burwell, “A Checklist” 70. For a discussion of Haeckel’s influence on Lawrence, see Schneider, The Artistas Psychologist 17–19.Google Scholar
  4. 21.
    See Thomas H. Miles, “Birkin’s Electro-Mystical Body of Reality: D. H. Lawrence’s Use of Kundalini,” D. H. Lawrence Review 9 (1976) 194–212Google Scholar
  5. Gerald Doherty,“The Darkest Source: D. H. Lawrence,Tantric Yoga, and Women in Love,” Essays in Literature 11:2 (1984) 211–22.Google Scholar

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© Charles Michael Burack 2005

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  • Charles Michael Burack

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