I want to focus attention now on a single recurrent metaphor in Women in Love by way of illustrating my general argument that the manner in which the imagery of dissolution is articulated throughout reflects large ambiguous rhythms in Romantic poetry. (I use the terms metaphor and image interchangeably and, where relevant, in such a way as not to exclude altogether the further connotation, ‘concept’. For the distinction between concept and image cannot be a sharp one where Lawrence is concerned; his thinking is profoundly analogical.)
So intricately does the imagery ramify that if we choose to call the novel as a whole an extended metaphor then we may say, indifferently, that that metaphor is dissolution or disintegration or corruption. Wher ever we break into the text for the purpose of critical comment we are likely to be led on, via trains of association, to a consideration of the major patterns of metaphor; if the object is to demonstrate the extensive reverberation of meaning, it does not matter greatly where we begin. I choose the following from the chapter ‘Flitting’ because it might seem to do so little to support my case:
But the passion of gratitude with which he received her into his soul, the extreme, unthinkable gladness of knowing himself living and fit to unite with her, he, who was so nearly dead, who was so near to being gone with the rest of his race down the slope of mechanical death, could never be understood by her. He worshipped her as age worships youth, he gloried in her because, in his one grain of faith, he was young as she, he was her proper mate. This marriage with her was his resurrection and his life.