Women in Love | Study Guide

D.H. Lawrence

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Women in Love | Chapter 30 : Snowed Up | Summary

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Summary

The relationship between Gerald Crich and Gudrun Brangwen devolves into a frightening conflict of will after Ursula Brangwen and Rupert Birkin leave. Immediately after they leave, Gerald enters Gudrun's room and admits he doesn't love her and never will. Meanwhile, he is inwardly consumed with the idea he can free himself by killing her. Gudrun hates him but forces him to say he will love her always. She tells him she wants her own room. Later, when she comes to him for sex, she feels the sex is killing her.

Gerald considers his options. He can't stand the feeling of "sheer nothingness" of leaving her and being alone. He might submit to her will, he might kill her, or he might retreat into apathy. He vows not to leave her, despite her hostility and distance. At sunset, jealous of her rapture as she watches the light, he tells her one day he will destroy her while she watches the sunset.

Gudrun feels close to Loerke and spends her moments free from Gerald with him, discussing art. They agree life doesn't matter and one's true being is in one's art.

During a heated discussion between Gerald and Loerke, Gudrun corrects Loerke when he refers to her as Gerald's wife. Gerald is calm and still, and the power swings back in his direction because he keeps his reaction hidden from Gudrun. This shift reignites Gudrun's passion for Gerald, but when they have sex, he gives no sign of his state of mind.

Gudrun and Loerke spend two whole days together, talking nonstop about art and the past. Loerke hates Gerald for his external qualities. He is confident he knows how to reach a woman deeply in ways Gerald does not. For Gudrun Gerald meant the world. Now she is done with the world. All that remains for her is to enter into "the obscene religious mystery of ultimate reduction." She knows she must leave Gerald but resolves not to let him kill her. Gerald demands to know the reason for her fascination with Loerke, and Gudrun says Loerke understands women and isn't stupid.

Loerke urges Gudrun to join him in Dresden where she can work in his studio. He claims to detest love but then asks for her love in the form of "a little companionship in intelligence." He begins to speak about their shared fate but then stops himself.

Gerald returns at dark from a long, happy day of skiing alone. He is seized by the idea killing Gudrun would be the final, "perfect voluptuous consummation" of his desire. Dead, she would be his forever. These thoughts consume him as Gudrun tells him she won't return to England. He lunges at her violently, but she escapes to her room. She is confident she will win the "fight to the death" with Gerald. She believes she will be able to free herself from him once she demonstrates she is not afraid of him. She becomes consumed with the perception she stands outside her life watching the time tick away relentlessly, like a clock. She compares her own face to that of a clock. She decides Gerald is nothing more than an "infant crying in the night," needing her to mother him to sleep.

Morning comes, and Gerald makes plans to depart with Gudrun the following day before setting out to ski alone. Aware that death lurks near, Gudrun feels enlivened by the open possibilities of what tomorrow could bring. That afternoon, she and Loerke go out sledding. At dusk, as they are picnicking in the snow, Loerke reiterates Gudrun ought to come to Germany.

Suddenly Gerald appears. Gudrun is terrified. Loerke raises a bottle in acknowledgment of Gerald's presence, and Gerald knocks him senseless into the snow. Gudrun punches Gerald in the face, and he begins to choke her. He is about to kill her when he is weakened by a wave of disgust that he would care so much about Gudrun as to take her life away. He stumbles off aimlessly up the side of the mountain, ready for it all to end. Coming across a crucifix in the snow, he is convinced he will be murdered. He slips, and his fall breaks his soul and puts him instantly to sleep.

Analysis

The chapter opens with a dialogue between Gudrun and Gerald about whether or not Gerald loves her and the meaning of love. It reads like a warped version of the dialogues that happened so frequently earlier in the novel between Ursula and Rupert. Like Rupert, Gerald also feels oppressed by Gudrun's insistence on defining their feelings toward each other in terms of the word love. However, Gerald reacts quite differently than Rupert, because of his sense of frustration. Rupert never stops his attempts to express a positive vision for how life could look within the confines of a relationship between men and women. He called it "freedom together." Gerald, too, envisions freedom as the solution. But he is in bondage to Gudrun, and freedom can only come by killing her. Like Rupert, Gerald also finally consents to his woman's demands he tell her he loves her. However, Gudrun uses her triumph in squeezing these words out of Gerald as an occasion to strike at Gerald. She makes an allusion to their sex life, implying the expression of his sexual desire proves he has just uttered a lie.

It was Gudrun who began this diabolical association with Gerald. In Chapter 11 Gudrun placed the blame on Gerald for her sketchbook falling into the water while claiming the matter was trivial. She imbued her communication of triviality with a direct, willful gaze at Gerald. This left him bound and in a mood of good-natured appreciation at her power. But now, the consequences of putting a spell on a man such as Gerald are coming around, and they meet Gudrun with the face of death. She could not have imagined this, although she was correct her destiny would be shared with him and cast in arctic light. What she did not anticipate was she was willfully involving herself with a man who belonged to death. Ursula told Gudrun Gerald had killed his brother when they were boys. She suggested the killing was not accidental but rather the expression of a primal desire to kill. Gudrun could have taken this as a warning. Instead she dismissed it, opposing her sister in claiming the event was horrifying precisely because it was purely accidental.

Gerald's jealousy and anguish grow the more Gudrun closes herself to him and opens herself to her connections to the mountains and to Herr Loerke. This leaves Gerald with the terror of death in his heart and a regard of Herr Loerke as despicable. Gudrun bound him to her. She has also left him alone in his bondage and forced him to witness her experiencing connections he has no part in.

He finally makes the connection between his sexual lust for Gudrun and his increasingly strong desire to kill her. He realizes to kill her would be the "perfect voluptuous consummation" his soul craves. Gudrun has decided to reach the place just beyond the visible mountains would bring her the "consummation" she seeks. This sets the stage for the final showdown. Each pursuing their individual fulfillment, they encounter each other in the mountains. Gerald has the advantage of surprise, while Gudrun has the advantage of Loerke's presence. The victory would have easily been Gerald's. However, his own nature—which demands he remain indifferent, unconnected, and uninvolved—reverses the outcome. Rupert was right in claiming murder only happens between one who desires to murder and one who desires to be murdered. It is Gerald, not Gudrun, who is the murderable one. Gudrun is the murderer—a feat she accomplishes without lifting a finger.

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