Home » D. H. Lawrence’s novel Sons and Lovers

D. H. Lawrence’s novel Sons and Lovers

Relationships have, and always will contain many different levels. These levels can produce somewhat of a state of confusion in ones life, and have many different impacts. But when a change and a transformation takes place, one can reach a point of clarity and a new found direction. In the comparison of two novels, we see several relationships portrayed along these lines, and how the two main characters transform to find what is most sacred to them. Paul Morel is the main character in D. H. Lawrence’s novel ‘Sons and Lovers.

The story charts his early life from when his parents married, and the subsequent birth of their four children. During this time, the three women who have the greatest impact on Paul’s life are his mother, Miriam and Clara. Each woman displays a definite influence on Paul, but all three are shown in different times of his life. This influence goes on to shape the life of Paul. In conjunction to this, the story of ‘The French Lieutenants Woman’; and the main character in that story, Charles, will be compared showing similarities and differences of the relationships of women in his life.

In the story ‘Sons and Lovers’; from the very beginning their was a connection between Paul and his mother. It was seen that a bond was formed between the two of them, but it wasn’t very strong in the beginning. The strong mother –son bond was between Paul’s older brother William and his mother. Paul appeared to be jealous of this, and it wasn’t until William moved away that Paul’s mother noticed him. William was offered a job in London, the ‘big city’; in comparison to their town. When he left, it was almost like a part of his mother had left too.

She was crushed, very upset, and very unstable. It wasn’t until Paul came down with an illness, and was on the boundaries of death when his mother finally really took notice in him. Paul was then nursed back to himself, and shared this same type of bond that William had shared with his mother. Mrs. Morel (the mother) lived for her children, especially William, but then Paul. As Paul grew older, his mother never suffered alone, and neither did he. He was always there for her when she needed him, she told him all her problems, and he listened as best he could, as a child and as a man.

Mrs. Morel felt that her life was unfulfilled. She knew she could not turn to her husband, who was an irritated drunk, and who showed very little interest in his family’s life. She could only look to her sons for this fulfillment of life, and that she did. It became Paul’s aim to provide this support for his mother that she forever needed. For a while, his mother was the only woman in his life of significance, until he met Miriam. ‘His heart contracts with pain of love for her. ‘; Miriam is Paul’s first love in the story. She is what helps to transform Paul out of his boyhood, and into his manhood.

She is the daughter of a local farming family a few miles down his road. An important comparison can be drawn with Miriam very early in the story. When Paul breaks his sisters doll, he is very upset. This sadness is derived mostly from the grief of his sister. After, he takes the doll, and smashes it, then burning the remains, sacrificing the doll. He hated the doll intensely because he had broken it. This can be seen as a metaphor for his and Miriam’s relationship. He hates her because he thinks that he has broken her heart, when, in fact, as he finds out later, he really hasn’t done either.

Paul is displayed as everything that Miriam wants in a man, ‘quick, light, graceful, who could be gentle, and who could be sad, who was clever and who knew a lot, and who had death in the family. ‘; Miriam puts her heart and soul into everything she does for Paul, from algebra to love. It is clear that they both can really understand one another. Sometimes she doesn’t understand why she feels a certain way, particularly about his paintings, so he explains to her because he knows why. As for intimacy between the two, it fluctuates, although Miriam did eventually give herself to him physically, which sometimes seemed to be all he wanted.

The most intimacy and love is shown when they speak of nature; of the trees, of bird nests, things like that. They realize that they could never give themselves fully to one another, and he soon leaves her. He says that he would give anything to want to marry her, make love to her and be gentle with her, but he can’t. It soon evolves into a ‘duty’; for him to see her. ‘He loved Miriam with his soul, if he ever were to marry, it would be his duty to marry Miriam. ‘; She becomes too much of a chore for him, and he leaves her for good, just as she expected him too. Next, there is Clara.

She plays the role of the last female figure of importance in Paul’s life. Clara is the estranged wife of Baxter Dawes, one of Paul’s colleagues. The relationship with Clara is most definitely limited to a physical one. His mother’s influence can again be seen in this relationship. In the novel, Mrs. Morel’s arms are described as ‘very handsome, strong arms,’; this is a feature, which he finds very attractive in Clara. As with all the women in Paul’s life, there was something about Clara that he did not like. He feels physically stifled as he felt inwardly stifled by Miriam.

Despite this dislike of her, he still lusts for her, and aches to see her. ‘Her ear, half hidden among her blonde hair, was near to him. The temptation to kiss it was almost to great. ‘; This leads to the fact that for Paul, sex is what is intimate. This proves that Paul’s relationship with Clara is purely physical, as shown by many of the descriptions he says of her. At this point the most significant comparison can be drawn between ‘Sons and Lovers’; and ‘The French Lieutenants Woman. ‘; The story of ‘The French Lieutenants Woman’; can be briefly described as a story of the passion of love, and the journey to find it.

Throughout the story the main character (Charles) is chasing after a women who he fell in love with at first sight. This chase symbolizes him going back to his boyhood, with the chase itself being part of the means of the relationship. A girl by the name of Sarah moves into town one day and shortly becomes the main focus of the town’s gossip. Everybody wonders who this woman really is. Most think that she is a whore, but as for Charles, one look at this mysterious women, and he’s in the deep end of the pool of love! Charles can be described as a very confident man, a man who knows what he wants and who is very determined to find it.

In the beginning of the story, before the appearance of Sarah, Charles gets engaged to very beautiful, young, lustrous woman, who really loves him. This, in comparison, is like the role of Miriam in ‘Sons And Lovers. ‘; In both stories the perfect woman is right there in front of the man, ready willing and able, but things go in the opposite direction. Another character steals away the passion, and things become confused. Clara can be greatly compared to the likes of Sarah. In both stories, these women are blood boilers. Clara is a girl who Paul is aching to see each day, his lust drawing him towards her.

This relationship never goes any farther then a physical level. Sarah is a women who leads Charles on many journeys to find her, her mysteriousness pulls in the hormones of Charles. This can also be seen as only a physical relationship. At the part where they meet, and immediately get frisky, kissing and clenching each other with a certain sexual desire, they have sex, the physical part being the sex and the fact that his snake spit early.

This shows that there was no ‘real’; meaning, and in a way, no real emotion was displayed, it was more along the lines of, ‘wham- bam –thank- you- mam! In the relationship between Clara and Miriam, with Paul, things are proven to be pretty different, but if you add the important aspects of them together, they create something in the relationship that Paul had with his mother, but more sexual. His three types of relationships with his women are physical, mental and emotional. He and his mother were almost sexual, with her wanting to hold on to him for so long, but would be stated as a purely emotional relationship. With Paul and Miriam things were mostly on the mental level, they really understood each other.

As far as Clara goes, it was definitely physical, showing the signs of lust. When you look at Charles’ relationship you will see that he and his fiance show no real signs of being any ‘real’; type of relationship when looked at from the view of Charles. He never lusts for her, or becomes mentally in tact with her, it could be best described as a social relationship. The rich, handsome powerful man marries the young beautiful women, it happens in a lot of stories. It is totally different between him and Sarah. Her social stance means nothing to him.

He is chasing her for the passion. It would be best described as a very physical, very sexual relationship. To sum it all up, there are two men, with relationships with different women that exist on all different levels. These relationships make the lives of the men temporarily confusing. Things begin to change for them. These women play a role in their transformation from boy to man, or, man to boy. In the end, this transformation leads them off in a different direction from where they were. Could it be fate? I’ll leave that up for you to decide.

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