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R. D. Laing's concept of ontological insecurity and Erik Erikson's analysis of identity confusion contribute to an understanding of Lawrence's characterization in The Rainbow and Women in Love. Will Brangwen's fear in The Rainbow that he will dissolve into nothingness without Anna is typical of individuals suffering from ontological insecurity. This anxiety ramifies into webs of mutually contradictory feelings. For example, Will's fantasy of merging with Anna clashes with his fear of losing his identity through absorption into hers. Anna embodies for Will an unconscious fantasy of his mother; this displacement is the root of the contradictions and conflicts in which he becomes entangled. As Anna fights against Will's unconscious desire to maintain a mother-son symbiosis in his marriage, Will rages against her because she represents the mother from whom he unconsciously wishes to be free, even while clinging to her. This fantasy system proliferates into role and identity confusions. Will wishes to be absolute master of his home and child-servant of his wife's matriarchy. Simultaneously in his relationship with his little girl, Ursula, he is an affectionate father, a sadistically destructive sensualist, and a child seeking parental support. These dissonant impulses and roles exacerbate Will's sense of his unreality, incoherence, and general impotence.
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