Women in Love | Study Guide

D.H. Lawrence

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Women in Love | Chapter 27 : Flitting | Summary



That evening, Ursula returns home full of happiness and announces she will marry Rupert the following day. Her mother, father, and Gudrun are all unpleasantly surprised. Her father goes into "one of his stupid rages" when Ursula points out this was something they all knew about. She stands up to her father and tells him his love has always been bullying. He hits her, and she escapes before he can land a second blow.

Ursula confronts her family a second time, announcing she is leaving. She cries all the way to Rupert's house and tells him what happened. He soothes her, telling her this was inevitable but is not the catastrophe she imagines. He says she can stay with him. She appears so radiantly beautiful to him, "so new, so wonder clear," while his soul is "so old ... dark and gloomy." Ursula doesn't know Rupert is on the verge of soul death but her youth will allow him "resurrection and ... life" through marriage. He cannot communicate this to her because words are insufficient.

The next day they get married, and Ursula does not return to her job. One day Gerald visits Ursula alone. She tells him he should marry Gudrun to be happy like her and Rupert but realizes she doesn't actually know if Gudrun would like this idea. Gerald tells her he plans to ask Gudrun to join him on a trip abroad at Christmas and suggests the four of them go together.

Two days later, Ursula and Gudrun go to the empty house in Beldover to get Ursula's belongings. The house is frightening to both of them and they wonder how they lived there. They wait for Rupert in their parents' former bedroom. Ursula says their parents' lives seem meaningless and she would run away from the prospect of such a life. They both agree having a home is something they don't want. As they drive away, Gudrun feels her own dissatisfaction with life and envies Ursula. She decides marriage and a home will fill her emptiness. Back in her rented room in Willey Green, she stands before her enormous clock and feels its painted face is gazing at her as if to consume her.

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 she tells Ursula Gerald took "an unpardonable liberty" by 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 he should take one of them with him to Tyrol instead.


In this chapter Ursula makes a break with her family and her home where she grew up, the container for much unhappiness and frustration. Ursula has moved out of this container, showing she has moved out of the extreme inwardness in which she lived when the book opens. She has now become the more adventurous of the two sisters, reversing the situation when they first discussed the prospect of marriage. Ursula admired Gudrun for her adventurousness in leaving home to go live in London as an artist. Now Gudrun observes Ursula's adventurousness with a sense of envy and insecurity.

This hidden envy points at a growing split between the sisters 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 course of this chapter. Ursula knows about the proposed trip abroad because Gerald told her directly. Her lie, likely meant to avoid an appearance of undue intimacy with Gerald, backfires. Gudrun grows sullen because she feels her sexual relationship with Gerald has been exposed, without her will or consent, to Rupert.

Gudrun keeps hidden from Ursula her secret desire for a traditional life of home and marriage. Her sense of emptiness and fear, rather than her belief in the lifestyle, drives her to embrace this as a solution. She, like Ursula, finds the example of their parents' life and marriage to be frightening in its meaninglessness. Yet Gudrun does not seem to see another option. Her encounter with the clock, which assumes the sinister aspect of a living presence that feeds on her energy, conveys Gudrun's sense of urgency. Something should have 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 marriage mirrors Gerald. For both of them, there is nothing idealistic about it. It is a practical stance adopted as a result of a sense the pressure is on each of them to make some sort of choice. For Gerald the imagery associated with this choice is of stumbling out of the woods on to a dark road. For Gudrun the choice is signified by the sinister clock that watches her just as she watches it.

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