英美文學 Disclosure of Consciousness and Subconsciousness in The Rainbow

Disclosure of Consciousness and Subconsciousness in The Rainbow 

In my perspective, The Rainbow could be highly-valued as a perfect piece of work for psychological analysis, concerning its penetrating manifestation of the realm of subconsciousness, in which is hidden beneath our consciousness, literally the unknown. At bottom, the dark desire within human beings remains a thorny issue and subconsciousness is essentially a mystery to human beings. Beyond that, sexual desire remains enigmatic also. Personally, I assume sexual desire is innate and roots in instinct, which is essentially uncanny and unfathomable. Then, when it comes to the narrative technique in unveiling the unfathomable force in our brain, Lawrence adopts free indirect discourse as a device to bring human being’s subconsciousness to light through the application of an omniscient third person narrator, whom is endowed with God-like omniscient knowledge of the whole package and access to the character’s interior working, including the hidden thoughts which is beyond the reach of the characters themselves. Significantly, the narrator peers into the characters’ mind and deciphers and documents the consciousness and subconsciousness in his own terms. Hence, the authoritative perspective of the third-person narrator often seamlessly merges with or overlaps the character’s own perspective. 

In The Rainbow, The frequency of the occurrence of undercurrents of subconsciousness offers a framework for the psychological analysis. In this approach, the text itself is beneficial to the disclosure of the myth of subconsciousness. The story spans three generations and anchors on the most common relationships, chiefly revolving around from family ties and love relationships. Throughout the story, readers can perceive the intensity of life experiences, the suffering of unfulfilled desires and the conflicts and the incompatibility between intimate relationships in general. Evidently, in The Rainbow, the characters suffer incorrigibly in particular in relations of sexual alliance. 

At the core, powerlessness and helplessness to emotions and instinct are the recurring theme. For another, the past intervenes and dominate the current moment forcefully on occasions. In particular, Lydiashe is a victim who subjects to and consumes her life to the trauma of the past. In the novel, Lydia is a Polish widowed and she roams to the England as an approach to cut off her past, to “escape” from the old memories (50). England’s’ aloofness and foreignness” suits her “mood,” on the ground that” she craves for “heavy oblivion of her old state” namely,” the old loss, the pain of the old life,” (52, 63, 251). In truth, situated in a new place, she still fails to extricate herself from the past. She tries hard to sever the relations of her past but in truth her inner thoughts still swamped with memories of the past helplessly and unconsciously. Hence, she contrives to stuff her mind with “blanks” in order to stay” outside the enclosure of darkness” (49, 52). Concerning Lydia’s condition, her “dying husband,was a vision to her” which troubles her spirit dramatically, and whenever the “vision” aroused, she is wrapped up in complete “darkness” (49, 52 ). In a sense, she is vulnerable to the past happenings. 

Her bitterness roots in her consciousness of assuming herself a victim. She victimizes her role and assumes her will is annihilated or disadvantaged at least in her first martial relationship (52). As to her understanding, Lensky’s “God-like” authority imposes upon her and her “self-subordination” is out of compulsion, thereby she perceives her true self is” beaten” in the marriage (254).Lydia feels her independence of mind is eradicated in the role of a submissive wife, who serves, “echoing” her husband, “as if drugged” (48). Because of her “self-subordination,” “she became Lensky’s slave” and she resents it (48, 254, 255).Her “self-subordination” is a one-way street and her existence is absorbed into his existence and she becomes a “shadow” attached to his existence in the love relationship (49). 

For decades,Lydiais besieged by the trauma of her past that she revisits the past moments irresistibly. The wounded experience attacks her subconsciously. As suggested by the narrator’s insinuation, it “needed so much life to begin afresh, after she had lost so lavishly” (63). By telling, the third-person narrator is empowered to peer intoLydia’s mind and chroniclesLydia’s inner perception in his own terms. By showing, the narrator reportsLydia’s inner thinking without intervention of comments. WhenLydiaand Ursula engage in a conversation talking about the “two wedding rings,” she relives her past again. In between the dialogue between Ursula andLydia, the narrator inserts his authoritative statement by adopting a distanced self reasoning outLydia’s emotions. 

Lydiastill resented Lensky. When she thought of him, …she was always twenty, …and under his domination. He incorporated her in his ideas as if she were not a person herself, as if she were…a part of his baggage  And he was always only thirty… Yet she still ached in the though of those days (254) 

Then, Ursula interrupts the narrative with a question’ Did you like my first grandfather’ andLydiabetrays her heart, deliberately or unconsciously replies” I liked them both” (254). Then, the narrator adopts a consonant self-narrator without addressing any comments. 

Ad, thinking, she began again Lensky girl-bride. He was of a good family, …she was a young girl in a house of insecure fortune. And he, an intellectual, a clever surgeon…How she had looked up to him! He seems so wonderful, …seemed almost God-like to her…she had never quite recovered from her prostration of the …marriage…she became his slave, he was her lord. By his acceptance of her self-subordination, he exhausted the feeling in her……he was a broken, cold man. He had no affection for her (254). 

In “thinking” of the past,Lydiarevisits the past again and the memories bring the past into life and deprive and occupy her present moment. Taken together, as an omniscient outsider, the third-person narrator supposedly makes a better judgment thanLydia. Ironically, she suffers for decades and fails to reason out the causality of her pain.Lydiasomehow betrays her subconsciousness by brushing aside her hatred direct at Lensky unconsciously or not. 

Surprisingly, Lydia owns the “superiority” in her second marriage that Tom “drawn after her” desperately and he becomes her “servant” and even a “shadow” whose “existence was annulled” in this relationship (59, 60, 62 ).Ironically, she becomes the” broken, cold” woman (254). She withdraws every part of her passion since she is unwilling to be exposed to the danger of intensity of affection again. But then, Tom’s lively passion is bulled. With attempt to free from suffering, she adheres to seeking spiritual emptiness.Lydiais essentially self-centered and indifferent to Tom’s fierce violent emotion, solely immersing in her personal wounded past. In this respect, her past trauma eclipses her present moment and annuls every possibility of happiness in a new relationship and attribute to another victim. She consumes her life in miring the past trauma. After Tom passes away, she reflects and she “was sorry for him now.… he had never known her…he had never received what she could give him…he had gone away from her empty” (256). 

At bottom, Human beings are susceptible to instincts, in which potentially predominate our senses. Sure enough people are generally torn between rationality and instinct. When it comes to instinct, it has something to do with sexual desire and primitive sexual instinct. Evidently, sexual desire is basically grounded in our primitive instinct, in which is spontaneous, invisible but mighty. For instance, Tom is vulnerable and susceptible to his innate sexual desire and feels ashamed, considering social expectation of the time. When Tom is young, he is “tormented” by his preoccupation of “lust scenes ” intermittently and powerlessly that “he was always thinking of women, or a woman, day in, day out” and he feels” ashamed” (18). He tries hard to counter against his sexual desire but “could not get free” (18). 

At bottom, men and women are chained by sexual desire. For instance, both Tom andLydia’s consciousness are dictated by instinct, “as if drugged” when they newly acquainted with each other (48). Essentially, sexual instinct is much like “flame,” in which catalyzes Tom andLydia“evolving to new birth “(37, 54). When she met Tom,” again her heart stirred with a quick, out-running impulse, …and the pain of a new birth in herself strung all her veins….she wanted it, this new life from him, with him” (38). Because of him, “her blood stirred to life” (54).




The voice of her body had risen strong and insistent. …her instinct fixed on him…Her impulse was strong against him, because he was not of her own sort. But one blind instinct led her…She felt the rooted safety of him, and the life in him. Also he was young and very fresh…He was very young (II, 53)




Come to think of it,Lydiais tempted to embrace her “innocence of age” once again but could not in herself (251). She is desperate to revisit the days “when she was a girl,” literally “the life of her youth,” which could never “come back” (51). Time could never go backwardly and she consciously knows it. So to speak, Tom is the man can decidedly compensate her desire. Without knowing Tom, she is convicted that he is the man who can guarantee her peace, which validate the point that her contention is governed by her primitive instinct. 

Likewise, Tom is at the mercy of his sexual instinct and his consciousness is controlled by his sexual instinct “blind[ly]” by claiming there is a “secret power” connecting him and Lydia though he barely know anything about her yet (37). Ostensibly, the secret power suggests sexual instinct. The first time He feels” the very vacancy” ofLydia’s look “inflamed him…running under his skin (30). The second time he seesLydia, she is still a “stranger” to him but he assumes that’” she was strange, from far off, yet so intimate…a presence, so close to his soul” though he knew her so little” and they are still “foreign to each other “(30, 55). Fundamentally, he is captivated by her physical image but he interlocks her appealing beauty to the idea of soul mate. 

At any rate, sexual instinct bewitched their consciousness and whim and consciousness becomes ironically the same. It proves that Tom andLydia’s consciousness are pretty groundless, self-deceptive and even fallacious when their reason is beguiled by sexual desire, in which lead their self-understanding deadly wrong. Tom’s consciousness is much like a delusion, hallucination or imagination, “as if drugged,” but so true and real to him for that particular moment (48). 

At any rate, it is a commonplace thing conflicts and anxiety abound in intimate relations. Though Tom andLydiadrown to each other by physical fascination, they crave for different reward in the relationship. As a man of youth, Tom longs for intensity of life butLydiais tempted to embraces stability in Tom. Furthermore, om desperately desires to complete withLydiainto oneness. For him,Lydiais “his to possess” but she is balked at the thought of being absorbing into his completeness. Undeniably, the idea of oneness of two separate beings is desirable for Tom but offensive forLydia. Learned from her former life experience, Lydia is keenly aware that love carries along with” intensity’ of affection which begets pain and helplessness, thereby Lydia “craves for peace,” and disposed to “remain out of life” than be “tormented” by “love” (38, 49, 50, 52, 80).She is in love with him, “yet she must defend herself against it, for it was destruction” (38). Hence, she tries hard to counter against her passion so as to shield her mind from hurt. She struggles for “it was cruel to her, to be opened and offered to him, yet not know what he was” (55). Hence, her attitude wavers. She accepts Tom and refused him capriciously that “she is opened to him” one day, the next she would have lapsed to her original disregard of him (64). 

Oppressed by her fear to be hurt again, Lydia contrives to shrink from giving love and her “detached” and defensive manner is hostile to Tom that he “could not get definitely into touch with her” (55, 64 ). She appears to be motionless and her “impersonal look and her self-possession manner raged him and he fear[s] she was dead. Yet he knew perfectly well she was notShe was beautiful to himbut it was not humane(34,79). Her sense of defensiveness is impregnable. In a sense, Tom fails to iron out the distance” between them and he troubles madly (57). Tom feels himself exiled fromLydia’s consciousness and her attention. . He assumes himself a nothing to her and he is humiliated and helpless because he could not break the barrier in her heart. Whenever she is “impervious to him” he feels he is “cast out” and miserable (54, 61).Since Tom anchors his purpose of living on Lydia’s affection, he turns out to be the one who is stricken by “ever-unsatisfied desire,” “self-thwarting” and he “went about unliving” (55, 58). At length, he is not living but existing.

In this approach, unfulfilled desire can potentially elicit fluctuation of miscellaneous of dark emotions, including hatred, anxiety and etc. Once the dark emotions piled up by degrees, the person would be on the verge of madness. Taken together, the intensity of passion is double-edged in the form of flame, which can potentially reframe or refresh a person into a new life or paralyze his senses or triggers madness 

Among three love relationships in The Rainbow, it is an undeniable fact that the so-called soul mate is a myth that mutual understating between lovers is hardly happening. In truth,Lydia is grateful to Tom but Tom never realizes on the ground that Tom is an outsider toLydia’ inner thought. He feels “when he approached her, he came to such a terrible painful unknown” because she is unwilling to share her torment (56). With the omnipresent perspective of the narrator, the readers can realize the fact thatLydia “honored him” and Tom “had been mistaken” (256). After Tom dies,Lydia is more disposed to speak of the past, especially the happenings between her and her two deceased husbands. She speak of decease Tom” as if her were alive.  Sometimes the tears would run down her face” helplessly (251, 257). Indisputably, though he had died” Yet there had been strength and power in him” that “he had made himself immortal” in her (251).

Apparently, throughout the story, the mutual understanding is a failure except the communication between Ursula andLydia. Their character are much alike, thereby they “seemed to understand the same language” (252). When Ursula andLydia’s affection is bullied by the one they love, they respond in a similar manner. .Indisputably, her thinking process is much alikeLydia. Essentially, both of them are motivated to shield themselves from hurt by prioritizing themselves above others and center their preoccupation upon themselves alone. 

Owing to the help of omniscient knowledge of the narrator, readers are allowed to detect Ursula’s interior working when she was a child aged hour. In detail, In Ursula’s childhood, her “hearted followed” her father Will “as always (218). Once, she was shouted by Will, and all of a sudden, her” vulnerable little soul’ is seized with” pain and shame and unreality. Her consciousness seemed to die away. She became shut off and senseless” (221). In a sense, she “cared no longer” and displays” self –asserting indifference, ” as if “nothing but herself existed to her” and she becomes  “ unresponsive” to the outside world (221,222). At root, she” willed to forget” and “cut her childish soul from memory, so that the pain and the insult should not be real……and very early she learned to harden her soul in resistance and denial of all that was outside her” (222). Afterwards, when she feels her affection or will is bullied, she” became hard, cut herself from all connection, lived in the little separate world of her won  (222). 

Without doubt, human beings are born to feel and doomed to embrace desire, in which serves as an impetus to secure self-fulfillment in the journey of life. Some is tempted to clinch self-fulfillment at the thought of oneness in a relationship, such as Tom, and some is motivated to achieve self-fulfillment in the responsibility and the duty they are given, such as Anna. What is assured, human beings are evidently the puppets of instinct though we might fancy ourselves are empowered to dictate our emotions on the right track. Ostensibly, every character is inspired to be the master of their emotions and secure hegemony in a relationship. Nonetheless, characters’ helplessness in dealing with their emotions is a dominant theme that many of them are frequently engulfed by darkness. At root, people’s emotions are victimized because they feel themselves bullied by other’s domination. What is assured, Lawrencespans the story in three generations to validate the ground that occurrence of dark desires are commonplace thing rather than a particular case. Nonetheless, human beings are born to carry desires. At the core, desire carries passion along the way and passion and desire are package deal. Come to think of it, if we remove desire from human beings, people would turn into motionless, unfeeling mechanized subject, existing but unliving, which is undoubtedly miserable. For another, thank to the omnipresent third-person narrator, the readers can detect human being’s interior working rather authentically. In The Rainbow, waves of subconsciousness loom and creep into the minds of characters, but they pathetically fail to gain access to the knowledge of it. In The Rainbow, application of free indirect discourse results in the mixture of consciousness and subconsciousness, which attributes to the maximum of authenticity of the inner thoughts of the characters. Significantly, consciousness and subconsciousness contradict or even diverge dramatically on occasions.

Works Cited: Lawrence, D. H.. The Rainbow









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