In many ways the fiction of Lawrence amounts to a critique of industrial society, which he saw as being usually bad for those who lived through it. This is shown in this text through the history of one family, the Brangwens, which follows them from pre-industrial times to the industrial age. Note the idyllic way in which Lawrence describes their lives in pre-industrial times:
So the Brangwens came and went without fear of necessity, working hard because of the life that was within them, not for want of the money... But heaven and earth was teeming around them, and how should this cease? They felt the rush of the sap in spring, they knew the wave that cannot halt, but every year throws forward the seed to begetting, and falling back, leaves the young-born on the earth.
The novel then presents these Brangwens as having happy, tranquil lives based around an intimate connection with the land that sustains and supports them. When Lawrence reaches the generation of Brangwens who have experienced the Industrial Revolution, this changes dramatically, and Ursula is shown as a character who has to search for her identity in a way that her ancestors have not had to as a result of this severing of the connection between people and their land. Ursula is presented as something of a lost soul in this novel thanks to the loss of connection, and Lawrence therefore indirectly comments on the negative impact of the industrial age.