Sons and lovers
Sons and Lovers is both a social and Oedipal novel. It deals with Lawrence’s personal experience. Mrs. Morel is the wife of a coal miner, but their wedding is unhappy. She has three children who are very attached to her. Paul is her favorite, but their close relationship becomes unsettling. In fact, Paul can’t sustain a fulfilling relationship with any woman; he rejects Miriam, his first girlfriend; later he meets Clara Dawes who leaves him. After Mrs. Morel’s death, Paul is torn between the wish to rejoin her mother in death or go on living. In the end, he succeeds in leaving behind his past.
Family and social contextHis father is a miner and his mother belongs to a higher social class.
Mr. Morel’s estrangement from the emotional life of the family is due to this social difference that separates him from his children and brings them closer to their mother.
Moreover, his lack of education makes it difficult for him to express his feelings and his hard work leads him to domestic violence. Mrs. Morel instead is educated and determined.
Social and romantic bondagesThe love of human passions led Lawrence to hate modern civilization and to the admiration of nature: seasons, natural objects symbolize the author’s awareness of the negative power of industrialization.
Mrs. Morel complains of feeling ‘buried alive’ because she’s married to a miner. Though she joins a women’s group, she must remain a housewife for life and because of this she is jealous of Miriam, who had more opportunities in her life.
Paul feels bound to his mother and cannot imagine abandoning her or even marrying anyone else.
Lawrence uses the opposition of the body and mind to expose the contradictory nature of desire: characters often pair up with someone who is quite unlike them: Mrs. Morel is at first attracted by her husband.