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Marriage as Minefield

"It was a beautiful sunny day for the wedding,
a muddy earth but a bright sky" (131).
D. H. Lawrence's The Rainbow (1915)


Responses to Path 2 prompts should deliver a structured, narrow argument in only 400-500 words, one you publish on Blackboard by 11:59 p.m. on Friday. Arguments should evince creativity and organization, support their claims with detailed evidence ( incl. page citations), and show signs of careful revision. Remember too that whether I happen to agree or not with your thesis matters little, as long as it is sufficiently supported and logically, persuasively rendered.

Some of the strongest essays will incorporate ideas from path 2 essays written by your peers and/or pertinent path 1 discussions and topics, though neither is required.

Week Four:
The Rainbow (1915), chps 7-9, 195-258

1. do Anna and Paul share control in their sexual relationship following marriage?

2. what about the now elderly Baron Skrebensky and his new, young wife so attracts Anna?

3. in the scene at Lincoln Cathedral (198-203), does the emotionally violent dynamic between Anna and Will suggest anything about Lawrence’s own posture towards religious architecture—towards its spiritual and aesthetic power?

4. does the “little matriarchy” (206) which arises in the home of Anna and Will after the birth of Ursula appear to constitute a healthier familial dynamic than that which existed prior to Will’s defeat?

5. does the leveling, sexual “darkness” into which Will and Anna plunge have beneficial consequences to their marriage and individual lives? Is what they gain greater than what they relinquish?

6. does either Lydia Brangwen’s or Tom Brangwen’s perspective on the ineffable (101-102, 133) prefigure that of either Anna or Will?

7. what kind of religion does Anna ultimately embrace?

8. do the women of Lawrence’s novel move closer to intercourse with life’s mystery and true meaning than do the men?

9. are Anna’s and Paul’s marriage problems a function more of Anna’s personality than Paul’s? Does the narrator wish us to assign more blame in one direction than another? Does revisiting the narrative description of Anna’s childhood influence your conclusion (67-69, 76-77, 83-87, etc.)?

10. does the daughter-father relationship between Ursula and Will resemble that earlier one between Anna and Tom?

11. is Will’s love for Ursula more charitable than it is needy, and more healthy than it is destructive?

12. does Will nurture his eldest daughter more than he traumatizes her?

13. in the last sentence of chapter eight, does the work “darkened” carry positive or negative connotations? How does this compare to Lawrence's use of "darkness" elsewhere in the novel?

14. does Lawrence appear to promote a giving of oneself to the beloved that unites two people, or an imbalanced giving that establishes a hierarchy between lovers by privileging one individual’s identity at the expense of the other’s?

15. which of our characters achieve a more fully realized, stable sense of selfhood, and which characters flail helplessly in a limbo of conflicting identity markers?

16. what impact does the funeral of his father-in-law have on Will’s libido?

17. why does Lydia value her relationship with Tom so much more highly than her relationship with Paul?

"Autumnal Cannibalism" (1936)
Salvador Dalí

Dr. Paul Marchbanks