Shadow in the Rose Garden Summary and Themes

D.H.Lawrence is a famous British poet, critic, novelist, and short-story writer. In this story The Shadow in the Rose garden, he has very skillfully combined the strong emotional tension and a deep sense of reality.

Lawrence is best known for his novels Sons and Lovers, The Rainbow, Women in Love and Lady Chatterley’s Lover. In these books, Lawrence explores the possibilities for life within an industrial setting. In particular Lawrence is concerned with the nature of relationships that can be had within such a setting.

shadow in the rose garden

Shadow in the Rose Garden Summary

The story “The shadow in the Rose Garden” focuses on the emotional tension of a woman. This short story is about unfulfilled love of a woman who could not marry with her beloved and could not love with whom she married.

She was in love with a military man.But, she came to know that he had been died due to sunstroke.

She marries with Frank who was electrician and had short stature. He was smart, healthy and full of life. After three year of marriage, on her suggestion they went to sea side for honey moon.

She has spent many months at that place before her marriage with her lover. She want to recall her past and beautiful memories. But, her husband wants to visit some new place. She says;

I came to see the place, not people.

She remains all time at bed and alone. He wanted to go outside with his wife but she says that he should go alone.

After his departure, she went to rose garden. This garden is significant as they used to meet in that garden. It was belonged to rector’s family. Archie was part of that family.

The gardener stopped her and said that she was not allowed to enter the garden as it was not a public place. But on her request, he allows her to stay for a little time in the garden. She entered the garden and looked at the house adjacent to the garden.

In that rose garden she was lost in past. She suddenly saw the shadow of someone in garden. That was the shadow of Archie, military man, her lover. She was stunned to see him alive as she has heard the news of his death.

He tried to recognize her but could not as he had gone mad, a lunatic. The situation became painful and intolerable for her when she came to know that Archie had not died but still alive.

After sometimes, the gardener came and took that man away. Listening to this, the lady smells the danger of the revival of her past. She hurries back to her cottage where she has been awfully disturbed and agitated.

Her present and past are at crossroad and the conflict in her love and reality has unsettled her. Her husband returns and was puzzled to see her wife sad, silent and impassive.

She tells him that during her two years stay at that place she had fallen in love with the rector’s son, Archie. They love each other and promised to marry.

She cried;

 We loved each other, and we were lovers we were. I don’t care what you think.

After one year, he was suddenly recalled to the army and sent to fight in Africa. She was told that he had sunstroke and consequently died. Meanwhile, she met and married her present husband.

He gets infuriated at her and taunts her;

So he chuckled you”. After your shameless romances, you came to me for marriage.

But, when he knows that he is mad, he feel relax. She also get relaxed and free after telling him the love story. Her guilt and tension was ended. Thus the husband learns the cause of real estrangement between them.

The woman also feels relieved from the tension and sense of guilt that keeps her away from her husband. Their pent-up emotions are released by talking freely. Thus husband and wife reconcile themselves to the actual situation of life after the revelation of truth.

Shadow in the Rose Garden Themes

  1. Unfulfilled Love
  2. Trust
  3. Understanding
  4. Past
  5. Life is not bed of roses
  6. War

Unfulfilled LOVE

A story of unfulfilled love. This short story is about unfulfilled love of a woman. She could not marry the person she loved and could not love the person she married.

Love is an important theme of Shadow in the Rose Garden. The women in this short story loves with a military man, Archie.

She loves him passionately but she has heard the news of his death. This thing made her desperate and she has married with an engineer.

But when marries with him, she cannot love him. With whom she loves, she cannot marry and she cannot love with whom she married.

Love is an important theme as she cannot adjust herself with her husband. She always remembers her past and her beloved. It was her love that make her nostalgic.

It is torturous to realize that the love you once cherished with all that is within you is now lost forever. This is truly the agony of lost love

She remains sad and alone when they went on honey moon. She was guilty to hide this secret with her husband but at the end when she reveals her secret, she begin to love her husband. They cooperate with each other.

Trust and Understanding

This story “Shadow in the Rose Garden” gives a lesson of trust that trust is necessary in a successful marriage. One can run his marriage life happy if he trusts his partner.

In this short story Lawrence throws light on the theme of understanding. The women loves with someone else but due to the lack of conviction, she did not tell her past to her husband.

This mistrust and lack of understanding between them make their marriage life unhappy. She does not remain happy with him as they have no mutual understanding. But, when she tells him about her beloved, he became angry.

“Lovers–,” he said, white with fury. “You mean you had your fling with an army man, and then came to me to marry you when you’d done

 She should tell him everything earlier. They was tussle between them that could be solved by understanding and sharing.


Past and memory is very important theme of Shadow in the Rose Garden. The woman in this story always remain nostalgic like Mrs.Ranevsky in Cherry Orchard. Mrs.Ranevsky has pleasant past like she has.

She loves with someone whom she cannot marry. This memory always keep her sad. Even after her marriage with Frank, she cannot adjust her in new relation. She remain all time in room when they went on honey moon.

Past has disturbed her present as well. Even for her honey moon she chooses sea side where she used to go with her lover.

That was the very area where she lived before her marriage and had passed happy and loved moments with her lover, Archie. She wanted to see that place and revive her past.

That shows that past has important role in her life. When she came to know about Archie madness she become anxious.

Listening to this, the lady smells the danger of the revival of her past.

She hurries back to her cottage where she has been awfully disturbed and agitated. Her past and present are at crossroads and the conflict in her love and reality has mentally unsettled her.

Life is not bed of roses

This short story conveys a very important theme about life. Rose garden is symbol of love and happiness, but Lawrence shows another side of this belief.

In this story it is shown that life is never going to offer you a rose garden, rather there is always something challenging in life that you have to overcome.

Likewise in “Shadow in the Rose Garden”, she has suffered a lot in her life and life was not bed of roses for her. She remains anxious throughout story as well as her husband. Each character is disturbed in the “Shadow in the Rose Garden”.


War is one of the major themes of “Shadow in the Rose Garden”. In this story the woman has love with a military officer but she could not marry him.

She has got the news of his death that has disturbed her life. As she does not love with whom she has married.

She could not adjust herself in her life. It was the hallmark of war that her life was disturbed because if she had not received the news of his death, they would be happy in their life. And she would married her love.

But, she married to Frank when she had received his death’s new. After sometimes, she saw Archie, the military man alive in rose garden and she was stunned to see him alive.

He no longer recognized the woman who had once fulfilled his passionate desires. She is lost to him forever as he is to her, trapped in the mind of a mad man. 

After sometimes, she comes to know that he is mad.War has destroyed the life of women as well as Archie and Frank. The hallucination and madness of Archie is effect of war.

The sustained atmosphere of madness, hallucination, and suppressed violence helps make the short story powerfully convincing.

NOTE: This Post is written by “Ms. Yameena Yar Gondal”

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