From its opening paragraphs to its conclusion, D. H. Lawrence draws the reader into a world of dialectical debate about the nature of love in all its forms. Its characters are indelibly drawn and the settings are metaphorically masterful as the novel progresses. The pairing of Ursula with Birken and Gudren with Gerald contrasts each character’s perceptions on how love is understood and expressed, and how concepts of love have evolved over time. Protagonists and antagonists are in constant dialogue, defending and challenging the accepted norms of society, forcing the reader to probe his/her own assumptions about the nature of love itself, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
Superimposed on this, Lawrence (once again) incorporates the inevitable influence of the industrial revolution and its numbing effects on modern emotional life. In its own way, this book was prescient in the way in which it exposes how technological change affects interpersonal relationships on so many levels.
For anyone interested in exploring dynamic concepts about love and the strictures imposed on it by societal conventions, Women in Love will provide plenty of food for thought.
As the closing dialogue expresses:
“You can’t have two kinds of love. Why should you?”
“It seems as if I can’t,” he said. “Yet I wanted it.”
“You can’t have it, because it’s false, impossible,” she said.
“I don’t believe that,” he answered.