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The Intruder: A Summary of D.H. Lawrence’s ‘The Trespasser’

The Intruder: A Summary of D.H. Lawrence’s ‘The Trespasser’

D.H. Lawrence’s short story “The Trespasser” tells the story of a man named Cyril who becomes obsessed with a married woman named Emily. As their relationship progresses, Cyril becomes increasingly possessive and jealous, causing Emily to question their affair. The story explores themes of love, jealousy, and the consequences of crossing boundaries.

Plot Summary

The Intruder: A Summary of D.H. Lawrence’s ‘The Trespasser’.

D.H. Lawrence’s ‘The Trespasser’ is a novel that explores the complexities of love, marriage, and infidelity. The story follows the life of a young woman named Helena who is trapped in a loveless marriage with a man named Alfred. Despite her unhappiness, Helena remains loyal to her husband until she meets a man named Siegmund, who awakens her passion and desire.

As Helena and Siegmund’s relationship deepens, they struggle to keep their love a secret from Alfred and the rest of society. However, their affair is eventually exposed, and Helena is forced to confront the consequences of her actions.

Throughout the novel, Lawrence explores the themes of love, desire, and the societal expectations placed on women. He also delves into the complexities of human relationships and the consequences of infidelity.

Overall, ‘The Trespasser’ is a powerful and thought-provoking novel that offers a unique perspective on love and marriage. Lawrence’s vivid descriptions and complex characters make this a must-read for anyone interested in exploring the complexities of human relationships.

Main Characters

The main characters in D.H. Lawrence’s ‘The Trespasser’ are two young lovers, Cyril and Anna, who are faced with the challenges of class differences and societal expectations. Cyril is a working-class man who dreams of a better life, while Anna is a middle-class woman who is expected to marry someone of her own social standing. Despite these obstacles, the two fall deeply in love and begin a secret affair. However, their happiness is short-lived as they are eventually discovered and forced to confront the harsh realities of their situation. The novel explores themes of love, class, and societal norms, and the characters’ struggles to navigate these complex issues make for a compelling and thought-provoking read.


The setting of D.H. Lawrence’s “The Trespasser” is a small mining town in England during the early 20th century. The town is described as being surrounded by hills and having a river running through it. The main character, Cyril, works in the mines and lives in a small cottage with his wife, Anne. The town is portrayed as being a close-knit community where everyone knows each other’s business. Lawrence uses the setting to create a sense of claustrophobia and confinement, which reflects the characters’ emotional states. The town is also a symbol of the characters’ limited opportunities and the constraints of their social class. Overall, the setting plays an important role in the story, shaping the characters’ experiences and contributing to the themes of the novel.


One of the main themes in “The Trespasser” is the struggle between societal expectations and individual desires. The protagonist, Cyril, is torn between his love for his wife, Anne, and his attraction to the free-spirited, unconventional character of Louise. This conflict is further complicated by the societal norms of the time, which dictate that Cyril must remain faithful to his wife and uphold the sanctity of marriage.

Another theme in the story is the exploration of the human psyche and the complexities of human relationships. Lawrence delves into the inner workings of Cyril’s mind, exposing his innermost thoughts and desires. The author also examines the dynamics between Cyril and Anne, as well as Cyril and Louise, highlighting the intricacies of their relationships and the power dynamics at play.

Finally, “The Trespasser” also touches on the theme of class and social status. Cyril is a successful architect, while Louise is a working-class woman who is looked down upon by Cyril’s social circle. This class divide adds another layer of complexity to their relationship and further highlights the societal expectations that Cyril must navigate.

Overall, “The Trespasser” is a thought-provoking exploration of human relationships, societal norms, and the complexities of the human psyche. Lawrence’s masterful storytelling and vivid characterizations make this a must-read for fans of classic literature.


Symbolism plays a significant role in D.H. Lawrence’s “The Trespasser.” The novel is filled with various symbols that represent different themes and ideas. One of the most prominent symbols in the novel is the river. The river symbolizes the flow of life and the passage of time. It is also a symbol of change and transformation. The river is a constant presence in the novel, and it is often used to reflect the characters’ emotions and moods. Another important symbol in the novel is the house. The house represents stability and security. It is a symbol of the characters’ desire for a stable and secure life. The house also represents the characters’ desire for a sense of belonging and identity. Overall, the use of symbolism in “The Trespasser” adds depth and complexity to the novel, and it helps to convey the themes and ideas that Lawrence explores in his work.


The conflict in D.H. Lawrence’s “The Trespasser” is multi-layered and complex. At its core is the love triangle between the protagonist, Cyril Beardsall, his wife, Anne, and their friend and neighbor, Leslie Templeton. Cyril and Anne’s marriage is already strained when Leslie enters the picture, and his presence only exacerbates their problems. As Cyril becomes increasingly jealous and possessive, Anne finds herself torn between her loyalty to her husband and her growing feelings for Leslie. Meanwhile, Leslie is also struggling with his own desires and the guilt he feels for betraying his friend. The tension between these three characters builds throughout the novel, culminating in a dramatic confrontation that leaves all of them changed forever. Beyond the love triangle, there are also conflicts related to class, gender, and societal expectations that add depth and nuance to the story. Overall, “The Trespasser” is a powerful exploration of human relationships and the ways in which they can be both beautiful and destructive.

Rising Action

As the story progresses, the tension between the two main characters, Cyril and Siegmund, begins to escalate. Cyril’s jealousy and possessiveness over his wife, Anne, become more apparent, and Siegmund’s attempts to win her over become bolder. The two men engage in a physical altercation, and Cyril is injured. Anne becomes increasingly torn between her loyalty to her husband and her growing feelings for Siegmund. The rising action of the story sets the stage for the climax, where the conflict between the characters will come to a head.


As the tension builds throughout D.H. Lawrence’s “The Trespasser,” readers are left wondering how the story will ultimately unfold. The climax of the novel comes when the protagonist, Cyril, confronts his lover, Anne, about her affair with another man. The scene is intense and emotional, with Cyril struggling to come to terms with the betrayal he feels. As the two argue, it becomes clear that their relationship is irreparably damaged, and the novel ends with Cyril alone and heartbroken. The climax of “The Trespasser” is a powerful moment that leaves a lasting impression on readers, highlighting the devastating consequences of infidelity and the fragility of human relationships.

Falling Action

As the tension reaches its peak in D.H. Lawrence’s “The Trespasser,” the falling action begins to unfold. After being caught in the act of adultery, the main character, Cyril, is forced to confront the consequences of his actions. His wife, Anne, is devastated and demands a divorce, while his lover, Connie, is left feeling used and abandoned. Cyril is left alone to reflect on the choices he has made and the damage he has caused. As the story comes to a close, the reader is left with a sense of the tragic consequences of infidelity and the importance of honesty and loyalty in relationships.


In the resolution of D.H. Lawrence’s “The Trespasser,” the main character, Cyril, finally confronts his feelings for his former lover, Anne. After realizing that he still loves her, Cyril decides to leave his current fiancée and pursue a relationship with Anne. However, Anne ultimately rejects Cyril’s advances, leaving him alone and heartbroken. This resolution highlights the theme of the consequences of past actions and the difficulty of moving on from past relationships. Cyril’s decision to pursue Anne ultimately leads to his own emotional turmoil, showing the complexity of human relationships and the importance of considering the impact of our actions on others.


The mood of D.H. Lawrence’s “The Trespasser” is one of tension and unease. From the very beginning, the reader is aware that something is not quite right. The opening scene, in which the protagonist, Siegmund, is walking through the woods, is described as “oppressive” and “sinister.” This sets the tone for the rest of the story, which is filled with a sense of foreboding. As Siegmund becomes more and more entangled in the lives of the Brangwens, the tension only increases. The reader is left wondering what will happen next, and whether Siegmund will be able to extricate himself from the situation he has found himself in. Overall, the mood of “The Trespasser” is one of suspense and apprehension, making it a gripping read from start to finish.

Point of View

The point of view in D.H. Lawrence’s “The Trespasser” is primarily from the perspective of the protagonist, Siegmund MacNair. As the story unfolds, readers are given insight into Siegmund’s thoughts, feelings, and motivations. However, there are also moments where the point of view shifts to other characters, such as Siegmund’s wife, Helena, and his friend, Cyril Scott. These shifts in perspective allow readers to gain a more well-rounded understanding of the events and relationships in the story. Additionally, the use of multiple perspectives adds depth and complexity to the narrative, making it a more engaging and thought-provoking read.


D.H. Lawrence’s writing style in “The Trespasser” is characterized by its vivid descriptions and intense emotional depth. Lawrence’s use of language is both poetic and raw, creating a sense of immediacy and intimacy with the characters and their experiences. The novel is also notable for its exploration of complex psychological themes, such as jealousy, desire, and the struggle for self-acceptance. Overall, Lawrence’s unique style makes “The Trespasser” a powerful and unforgettable read.

Criticism and Interpretation

D.H. Lawrence’s ‘The Trespasser’ has been subject to various interpretations and criticisms since its publication in 1912. One of the most common criticisms of the novel is its portrayal of women. Some critics argue that the female characters in the novel are one-dimensional and lack agency, while others argue that they are complex and nuanced.

Another point of criticism is the novel’s treatment of class and social status. Lawrence’s portrayal of the working-class characters has been criticized for being stereotypical and simplistic. However, others argue that the novel’s exploration of class and social status is nuanced and insightful.

Interpretations of the novel vary as well. Some readers see the novel as a critique of the rigid social structures of Edwardian England, while others see it as a commentary on the destructive nature of passion and desire.

Despite the varied interpretations and criticisms, ‘The Trespasser’ remains a significant work in Lawrence’s oeuvre and a valuable contribution to the literary canon.

Historical Context

D.H. Lawrence’s ‘The Trespasser’ was published in 1912, during a time of great social and political change in England. The country was still recovering from the effects of the Industrial Revolution, which had brought about significant changes in the economy, society, and culture. The rise of the middle class and the decline of the aristocracy had led to a shift in power dynamics, and many people were struggling to find their place in this new world.

At the same time, the suffrage movement was gaining momentum, as women fought for the right to vote and to have a say in the decisions that affected their lives. This struggle is reflected in Lawrence’s novel, which features a strong female protagonist who is determined to assert her independence and make her own choices, even in the face of societal expectations and pressures.

The novel also explores themes of love, desire, and betrayal, as the main character, Cyril, finds himself torn between his love for his wife and his attraction to another woman. This tension reflects the changing attitudes towards marriage and relationships during this time, as people began to question traditional gender roles and expectations.

Overall, ‘The Trespasser’ is a powerful reflection of the social and cultural changes that were taking place in England during the early 20th century. It offers a glimpse into the struggles and conflicts of the time, and provides a valuable insight into the mindset and attitudes of the people who lived through this period of history.


The reception of D.H. Lawrence’s novel “The Trespasser” was mixed upon its publication in 1912. Some critics praised Lawrence’s vivid descriptions and exploration of complex emotions, while others found the novel to be too melodramatic and lacking in plot. Despite the mixed reviews, “The Trespasser” has since become recognized as an important work in Lawrence’s oeuvre, showcasing his early talent for exploring the complexities of human relationships and the struggles of individuals caught between societal expectations and their own desires.


Adaptations of D.H. Lawrence’s “The Trespasser” have been few and far between, but the novel’s themes of love, betrayal, and societal expectations continue to resonate with readers today. In 1929, the novel was adapted into a silent film titled “The Trespasser,” starring Gloria Swanson. The film was a critical and commercial success, earning Swanson an Academy Award nomination for Best Actress. In 2018, a stage adaptation of the novel premiered in London, receiving positive reviews for its modern take on the story. While there may not be many adaptations of “The Trespasser,” the novel’s enduring themes ensure that it will continue to inspire new interpretations for years to come.


D.H. Lawrence’s ‘The Trespasser’ is a complex and multi-layered work that explores themes of love, desire, and societal expectations. At its core, the novel is a critique of the rigid social norms of the early 20th century, which placed strict limitations on women’s autonomy and agency. Through the character of Helena, Lawrence challenges these norms and presents a powerful argument for the importance of individual freedom and self-determination.

One of the most striking aspects of the novel is its portrayal of love and desire. Lawrence’s characters are driven by intense passions and desires, which often lead them into conflict with the expectations of society. Helena, for example, is torn between her love for Siegmund and her duty to her husband, who represents the traditional values and expectations of her time. Lawrence’s exploration of these themes is both nuanced and complex, and he presents a powerful critique of the ways in which societal norms can limit individual freedom and expression.

Overall, ‘The Trespasser’ is a powerful and thought-provoking work that continues to resonate with readers today. Its exploration of love, desire, and societal expectations remains relevant, and its message of individual freedom and self-determination is as important now as it was when the novel was first published.