Women in Love | Study Guide

D.H. Lawrence

Download a PDF to print or study offline.

Study Guide
Cite This Study Guide

How to Cite This Study Guide

quotation mark graphic


Course Hero. "Women in Love Study Guide." Course Hero. 13 Apr. 2018. Web. 14 Dec. 2018. <https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Women-in-Love/>.

In text

(Course Hero)



Course Hero. (2018, April 13). Women in Love Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved December 14, 2018, from https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Women-in-Love/

In text

(Course Hero, 2018)



Course Hero. "Women in Love Study Guide." April 13, 2018. Accessed December 14, 2018. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Women-in-Love/.


Course Hero, "Women in Love Study Guide," April 13, 2018, accessed December 14, 2018, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Women-in-Love/.

Women in Love | Chapter 29 : Continental | Summary



As the day of departure for Tyrol approaches, Ursula feels she has ceased to exist. Her soul reawakens as she watches England recede into nothingness during the overnight crossing by ship from Dover, England, to Ostend, Belgium. Spending that night coiled up together in a nook on the ship's deck, Ursula and Rupert experience a union with each other. All they know falls away and is replaced by darkness. In this darkness Ursula senses the "effulgence of a paradise unknown," which lies ahead. Rupert is fully in the present, experiencing for the first time in his life "an utter and absolute peace."

They dock at Ostend and board a train to Basel, Switzerland. Passing through the European countryside, she is reminded of her childhood on a farm in England. Ursula realizes this is still the old world, not the new one she hoped for. She turns inward again. When they have passed Zurich, Switzerland, and entered the snow-covered mountains, the world, at last, seems new to Ursula.

That evening, they arrive at their hotel in snowy Innsbruck, Austria. Gudrun is delighted and surprised to see her sister a day early, and the two sisters talk privately. Gudrun describes the scene at the Pompadour, and Ursula asks Gudrun for the letter. Gudrun doesn't want to give it up and changes the subject to her time in Paris. She praises the drunken artists in Paris as "people that matter" and notes Gerald was irresistibly charming to all the women.

At dinner they discuss how Innsbruck is so wonderful and different from England. Gudrun says the snow "exalts everything" and here, "one really does feel ... more than human." They debate whether England will collapse or will find a way to survive.

The following day they arrive at Hohenhausen, a remote valley in the Austrian state of Tyrol. It is covered in snow and surrounded by a wall of high, black mountains. Gudrun runs toward the mountains. Gerald follows her through "the perfect silence" that is "terrifying, isolating the soul, surrounding the heart with frozen air." Running through the snow with Rupert, Ursula exclaims at the newness of this world. A sledge, or sleigh, conveys the four the rest of the way to the inn where they will stay.

In their room at the inn, Gudrun looks out the window and becomes entranced by the view. It is described as "This was the center ... the navel of the world, where the earth belonged to the skies, pure, unapproachable, impassable." Gerald knows he is now alone, for inside herself she has retreated from him and placed herself in those mountains. She remains distant during sex, while Gerald finds bliss.

They go downstairs and meet Rupert and Ursula in the dining room for coffee and cake. Music draws them into the reunionsaal, or living room, where they meet the other guests, none of whom are English. They join the audience as Herr Loerke, a small man with quick eyes, gives a monologue in German that sends the room into uncontrollable laughter. Following this, Gudrun plays piano and Ursula sings for the "admiring and radiant" room.

After dinner Ursula insists they go outside to have a look. Ursula experiences the cold as malevolent but the silent snow as intoxicating. Rupert says he loves her and would be killed by this place without her. When a man with a lantern goes into the outhouse, Ursula is reminded again of her childhood. She lets the past go, giving herself fully to the union with Rupert in "the heat of reality, where she had never existed before." Meanwhile, Gudrun and Gerald walk toward the end of the valley. Gudrun believes by climbing the peaks there, "she would be a oneness with all, she would be herself the eternal, infinite silence, the sleeping, timeless, frozen center of the all."

Back inside, the four join in a Tyrolese dance. Gudrun senses Herr Loerke's interest in her, despite his aloofness. She dances with his friend Leitner instead. Gerald dances with one of the professor's daughters, and she instantly falls in love with him. Rupert and Ursula dance together, and Rupert frightens Ursula with his mocking, animalistic energy. That night in bed, the same energy troubles Ursula, but she submits, deciding it's OK to be "bestial" and engage in "dark shameful things."

Gudrun realizes Gerald is not monogamous by nature and resolves to fight him, knowing that "one of them must triumph over the other." Gerald alludes to Gudrun's interest in Loerke, which she denies. Back in their room, Gudrun feels afraid of Gerald standing behind her. Dissolving the tension by having him hand her something, she remarks upon the amorous effect he had on the girl he danced with. The next morning she imagines him fixing "the problem of industrialism in the modern world" before deciding he is too good for "the game." She smiles and, seized with delight, kisses him passionately, as someone outside sings a song that is instantly fixed forever within Gudrun.

The next day Gudrun and Gerald go sledding. Outside, Gudrun is transformed into "a pure thoughtless crystal," merging entirely with the snow peaks. Gudrun tells Gerald the downhill sled ride "was the complete moment of my life." They spend the first several days in such sport, losing themselves in "velocity and weight and eternal, frozen snow."

Snowed in a few days later, Gudrun hopes to talk to Loerke, who has thus far kept his distance. That afternoon Gudrun joins in a conversation between Loerke and Ursula. Loerke has been commissioned to do a large granite frieze outside a factory. He describes his philosophy of art, the poverty of his childhood, and how he became an artist. Loerke's frankness, single-minded focus on his art, and impoverished background attract Gudrun. Ursula also likes Loerke, but both Rupert and Gerald find him despicable and the women's fascination with the man incomprehensible. Rupert says Loerke "lives like a rat, in the river of corruption ... further on than we are." He says women are attracted to Loerke because they "want to explore the sewers."

One evening Loerke shows Gudrun a picture of a statue he made of a young naked girl sitting on a horse in a posture of shame. Ursula criticizes the rendering of the horse. Loerke replies condescendingly it is merely "a piece of form" unrelated to anything but itself. Embarrassed, Gudrun chastises Ursula for her insistence it is a horse. She agrees with Loerke about the separation between "the relative world of action" and "the absolute world of art." Ursula counters the sculpture reflects Loerke's own experience and his ideas about art reflect his inability to look clearly at himself. Loerke describes working with the girl who was his model, whom he beat to keep still. While men are good at any age, Loerke claims, women are useless to him past the age of 20.

Ursula is filled with urgency to leave the snow world, which has become oppressive. Rupert says they will leave for Verona, Italy, the following day. When Ursula tells Gudrun they are leaving, she realizes Gudrun and Gerald will be glad to be left alone. Gudrun gives Ursula some brightly colored stockings and asks if Ursula is making a permanent spiritual departure from her and Gerald. Tension arises between them as they discuss their thoughts about finding a new world. Gudrun tells her everywhere one goes, ideas—such as the supremacy of love—are the same. Ursula counters that "love is too human and little" and she and Rupert seek something unknown and inhuman, beyond love.

Meanwhile, Gerald tells Rupert he may not return from this world. He says Gudrun "seems like the end" for him, despite a certain hatred he feels for her. Gerald is skeptical when Rupert claims to have loved him. Riding away on the sleigh with Ursula, Rupert feels his heart freeze.


Of all the characters, it is Gudrun Brangwen who is truly at home in the remote Tyrolese valley. To Gudrun it is the center of creation, the place wherein she might at last experience the spiritual fulfillment she has never known before. Its effect on her is spell-like. She is bound there because her "consummation" waits for her in the high peaks that form the view from the inn. Ursula at first finds a deep sense of newness and wonder within the snow-filled valley of Tyrol. However, her sense of freedom and joy is shortly replaced by a feeling of being trapped there. She has to remember she is free to leave. Once she does, she and Rupert immediately depart. Ursula, in letting go of her past and accepting the dark, shameful side of life, has done all the work she came to do in Tyrol.

Rupert and Gerald both feel the terror of the place. Rupert has no affinity for it. It is only Ursula's warm vitality that keeps him alive there. Gerald is bound there because he is bound to Gudrun in a way he attempts to explain to Rupert. This bondage is a strange mixture of passion, violence, hate, and destruction. Gerald does communicate clearly his sense his end will come here. Rupert accepts this after gentle protest, seeing Gerald is already not himself. Earlier in the novel, Rupert has already intuited Gerald is a messenger of the snow destruction that is the destined end of the white race. His heart freezing as he departs seems to confirm this as well as underscoring the real love Rupert has for Gerald.

The arrival of Herr Loerke and Gudrun's firsthand observation of the sexual magic Gerald works on the professor's daughter transform Gerald and Gudrun into enemies. With their interest in other people obvious to each of them, the pretense of love is stripped away. The core of their relationship is exposed for the violent power struggle it is. While their relationship has always been characterized by shifts in power, these now become dangerous. The spells they cast on each other previously were met with appreciation, mockery, or sexual passion. Now the stakes have been raised and both Gerald and Gudrun know they are engaged in a fight that will result in real death. At the water party in Chapter 14, before they were lovers, Gudrun told Gerald she would be the one to deal the last blow between them. He did not deny this then, and he seems to accept he will die here as a result of his bondage to Gudrun.

Cite This Study Guide

information icon Have study documents to share about Women in Love? Upload them to earn free Course Hero access!