Women in Love | Study Guide

D.H. Lawrence

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Women in Love | Chapter 25 : Marriage or Not | Summary

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Summary

Several weeks later, with Christmas approaching, the Brangwen family prepares to move out of Beldover because of Mr. Brangwen's job. Rupert has obtained a marriage license, but Ursula keeps delaying. Gerald anticipates the wedding and asks Rupert if he should marry Gudrun. Rupert advises against it but says he ought to ask Gudrun.

Gerald says he is at a point where he must choose a direction. Marriage is one direction, but Gerald refuses, uneasy, to speak of the other. Rupert denounces "marriage in the old sense" that fragments the world into self-contained couples. He says he envisions a perfect union between man and woman existing alongside a similar relationship between man and man.

Gerald anticipates marriage would be a prison, not a "pure 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 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.

Analysis

In the previous chapter Gerald found himself at a literal crossroads in a dark woods faced with moving physically in one direction or the other. In this chapter he presents his dilemma to Rupert as an existential crossroads. The direction he chooses to move in their life will set his fate. However, Gerald, as usual, still keeps many of his cards hidden, even when opening up. He tells Rupert one direction is marriage to Gudrun, but he will not name the other direction. The reader senses the other direction will lead him toward death. Rupert and Gerald share a bond greater than any other bond Gerald has ever known. Gerald's view of Rupert as immature and smug in his theories likely contributes to Gerald refusing to name the second direction.

Rupert first made the offer of a permanent bond with Gerald immediately following his disastrous proposal to Ursula. In the wake of Gerald's father's death and his sexual consummation with Gudrun, Rupert extends the offer once again but couches it in different terminology. A relationship with another male would be a sort of training ground. Rupert would build on the love and trust he and Gerald already have and learn how to replicate that in a complementary marriage with Gudrun. The terminology shifts away from the language of brotherhood and toward the language of love. This reflects the physical intimacy that has passed between them when they wrestled naked together.

However, Gerald seems to understand there is no way he can ever belong to the bright aboveground world of love. His marriage to Gudrun would be a way for him to save face and keep up appearances while he wrestles with his own dark soul. Gerald's choice seems to be a prolonged involvement with the process of death (the underworld) or with the direct movement toward death. He was repulsed by his own father's refusal to move directly toward the death that was hanging over him. Therefore, it seems obvious which of the two choices Gerald will make.

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