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How far would you agree that ?Women in Love? should be read as a debate on the possibilities and limitations of marriage?

As one progresses through the book ?Women in Love? we encounter various instances where marriage is referred to. We realise, as we read, that Lawrence uses the book to comment on various topics and his opinions on them and marriage, being a very major topic involving male-female relationships, of which this book is prominently about, is mentioned also. We see different people?s reactions to and opinions on marriage and it seems probable that, like with other subjects such as industrialisation, they are those of Lawrence himself. However the conclusions seemingly drawn from this book are not the kind normally associated with marriage and Lawrence takes an altogether pessimistic view of the ceremony as being restricting and confining.

The first reference to marriage comes at the very beginning of the novel when Gudrun and Ursula are talking with each other in their home at Beldover. They discuss the possibilities of marriage and it is through this first topic that we are shown the character of the two women. As always when characters discuss social issues in the novel, one character poses all the questions whilst the other answers them in such as way that the subject is never quite resolved and the first character is obliged to ask another question to continue the debate (we witness such an interaction also when Birkin and Gerald talk on the train). The girls discuss whether or not getting married is a way of improving one?s lot in life and Gudrun, introducing her characters physically minded personality and desire for satisfaction of body rather than mind, feels that people need to have the experience of being married. The mentally driven Ursula, who it turns out has already been asked for her hand in marriage several time and has refused, is not so quick to jump to a conclusion as to whether a person?s position is improved by just being married. As the book goes on, in my opinion, the reader is drawn to Ursula more as being the more sensible of the sister as she is controlled by her head and not

The topic of marriage also comes up, unsurprisingly, at the wedding reception as it is discussed by the men after the meal. The race between the groom and the bride seems to be ultimately of more importance to them as the conversation keeps on referring back to ?who won the race?. This demeans the significance of the event they have just been witnessed and instead concentrates on a stupid and insignificant competition between the bride and groom as to who gets into the church first. Lawrence?s persona and spokesman talks about the ?immortality of the soul? and paints his obviously depressing view of marriage, which provokes one of his companions to exclaim in disgust that Birkin is talking as if the groom was ??going to be executed instead of married?.? This is not surprising given Birkin?s disillusionment with society and these events that he is obliged to attend and after our first meeting with him at the church, we expect nothing less than a critical point of view. It seems that Lawrence sees marriage in the same light as a condemned man being taken off to the gallows which gives the reader a clear idea as to how he views marriage: as an institution where once you have been ensnared or even captured, then your fate is set for the rest of your life.

Marriage rarely occurs in the wide ranging conversations between Gerald and Birkin, mostly because they are concerned with what they see to be more important such as industrialisation and they conversation, when it turns to the opposite sex, tends to be about love rather than marriage. In Breadalby, the prospect of what Gerald is going to do about Minette brings marriage into their conversation, but it does not last for long. Gerald is reasonably distraught as to what he is going to do about Minette and Birkin is offering suggestions and one of these is to marry her.

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