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A Sense of Self

"And after all, what could either of them get from such a passion but a sense of his or her
own maximum self, in contradistinction to all the rest of life?" (301).
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 Five:
The Rainbow (1915), chps 10-11 (259-331) [only bold-faced questions may be used as essay prompts]

1. according to Lawrence, does giving oneself to the beloved dramatically alter one’s sense of self?

2. 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?

3. 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?

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

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

6. Lydia once shared aloud her hope that Ursula would find a man who loves her for who she is, not for what he wants of her (258 mid). What kind of man does Ursula find in Anton?

7. does Ursula wish to be like her fecund, sensuous mother?

8. are Ursula’s daydreams and visions counterproductive, or do they have practical value?

9. what apparent difficulties with Christian doctrine experienced by Lawrence himself manifest themselves in his description of Ursula’s religious development?

10. reconsider the following, familiar questions: does Lawrence’s narrative implicitly criticize or support traditional religious forms and ideas? To what new purposes does Lawrence put traditionally religious language and ideas?

11. why does Ursula’s and Anton’s encounter with the working class lock keeper make Anton feel inadequate (314)?

12. does Ursula’s desire to define her “maximum self” (301) against Anton resemble her mother’s, Anna’s, dancing to exalt herself over Will (181-82)?

13. who wins the argument about war and nation-building, Ursula or Anton (307-309)?

14. who is annihilated, and who “crystallized with triumph” during Ursula’s and Anton’s post-dance intimacy (319-21)? Is this particular relational dynamic either more or less ideal than that which existed between Tom and Lydia? How does it compare to the relationship of Anna and Will?

15. what commentary on Bentham’s utilitarian ideology does Lawrence embed in Anton’s thoughts about his military duties (326-27)?

16. what role does Anton play in the self-actualization of Ursula?

Nude Descending a Staircase
"Nude Descending a Staircase" (1912)
Marcel Duchamp

Dr. Paul Marchbanks