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Modernism - Rebellion and Sexuality Essay

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Michael Levenson said in The Cambridge Companion to Modernism that Modernism fiction was “involved in the radical modern departure, across all of the arts, from representational verisimilitudei”. It was stylistically and thematically focused on rebellion against the way art was presented in the past and what its main focus was.

D. H. Lawrence was from a working class background and was always conscious of his status as an outsider because of his class. In his writing he focused on the idea of transgressing modern class systems in the search of new experiences. This is where the idea of rebellion becomes predominant in his writing. In The Virgin and the Gypsy (1930) he tells the story of a family ruled by a stern powerful Mater and the two young women eager for new experiences. The youngest daughter Yvette is the virgin of the title and it is through her encounters with the gypsy of the title (whose name is only revealed on the last page as Joe) and a soon to be divorcee and her young lover that she goes through a sexual awakening.

The family is presented as very traditional in their outlook and structure. At the beginning of the narrative, roughly ten years before Yvette's sexual awakening, we are told about how they had moved away and restructured the family after the vicar's wife, who they call She-Who-Was-Cynthia left for a younger man. The events of the novel and the actions of the characters can be seen as reactions to this first act of rebellion against family and religious tradition. It is never explicitly explained why she left, it is only said that she “went off with a young and penniless manii”. The vicar is described as a good husband and still handsome, and she has two little girls, so the question of “why... sh...


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...iting for people to invite him out for dinner or lunch. Beaver is typical of the inter-war generation. He is of the same generation as the younger generation in The Virgin and The Gypsy, who “sat very perkily in the car as they swished through the mud. Yet they had peaked too. After all, they had nothing really to rebel againstxiii”. He has nothing to rebel against. He has no goal in life except attending the next party and has no ties or loyalties of any kind. He abandons Brenda suddenly on a whim even seems bored by the life of endless parties. He calls a night out “rather dreary”, but admits that he is often only thought of last thing as a replacement so he should be lucky to have been invited at all. Even with his boredom with his chosen mode of life he makes no attempt to rebel against it and become anything more. He fully embraces his position as a modern man.


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