LawrenceAs a twentieth century novelist, essayist, and poet, David Herbert Lawrencebrought the subjects of sex, psychology, and religion to the forefront ofliterature.
One of the most widely read novels of the twentieth century, Sonsand Lovers, which Lawrence wrote in 1913, produces a sense of Bildungsroman1,where the novelist re-creates his own personal experiences through theprotagonist in (Niven 115). Lawrence uses Paul Morel, the protagonist in Sonsand Lovers, for this form of fiction. With his mother of critical importance,Lawrence uses Freuds Oedipus complex, creating many analyses for critics. Alfred Booth Kuttner states the Oedipus complex as: “the struggle of a man toemancipate himself from his maternal allegiance and to transfer his affectionsto a woman who stands outside the family circle” (277). Pauls compromisingsituations with Miram Leivers and Clara Dawes, as well as the death of hismother, display the Oedipus complex throughout Sons and Lovers.Order now
At an adolescentage, Pauls oedipal love towards his mother is compromised by a young ladynamed Miram Leivers. This profound situation puts Paul to the emotional test ofOedipal versus physical love. As Kuttner goes on to state: “Paulsadmiration for his mother know no bounds; her presence is always absorbing. Often at the sight of her, his heart contracts with love” (278). Pauls maternal relationship defines the Oedipus complex. Miram pulls Paulaway from his mother, while Pauls mother, Gertrude, sees Miram as a threat toher son.
Paul, even though Miram is around, still will not commit totally to herbecause of the strong ties between mother and son. Paul says to his mother,”Ill never marry while Ive got you I wont. . . ” (Lawrence 240). Lawrence wrote frequently of Pauls love belonging to his mother and only hismother (212).
Though Miram Leivers could not truly find Pauls heart, anotherwoman named Clara Dawes provides more stress on Pauls maternal relationship. Although Paul loved Clara, he still kept his attraction toward his mother. “Everything he does is for her, the flowers he picks as well as the prizes hewins at school. His mother is his intimate and his confidant” (Kuttner 278). Clara tried desperately to win Paul over, but her social sophistication was toomuch for him. Paul tells his mother: “I dont want to belong to thewell-to-do middle class.
I like my common people the best. I belong to thecommon people” (Lawrence 250). Clara shows frustration with Paul because ofhis maternal devotion. Again Lawrence displays the Oedipus complex through Paulto his mother, “And I shall never meet the right woman as long as you live”(341). Pauls Oedipal love would be tested once more by him dealing with thedeath of his mother.
Paul, though, was tough enough in handling this dilemma. R. P. Draper recognizes the loss of Pauls mother as: Their special, private,intimate grief over the impossible dream, and the magnificence of the woman, andthe devotional quality of Pauls love, render the deathbed scenes poignant andinnocent (292). The verification of Kuttners statement is seen as Lawrencehas Paul react to her death in this manner: “my love my love oh, mylove! My love oh, my love!” (384).
Lawrence also writes of Paulscontinuing love for his mother: “Looking at her, he felt he could never, neverlet her go. No!” (385). Kuttner Implies: “But death has not freed Paul fromhis mother. It has completed his allegiance to her.
For death has merely removedthe last earthly obstacle to their ideal union” (280). The love that Paulfeels towards his mother would never die. He loves her just as much when shedied as he did when she was still alive. Paul continues life having a maternaldevotion that no other woman would ever be able to fill. Throughout the novel,Paul is seen as one who lives for his mother.
Mark Spilka explains: “For ifPaul has failed in his three loves, he has drawn from them the necessarystrength to live” (293). Sons and Lovers was written with Lawrence almostdefining the Oedipus complex through Paul. With this in mind, Kuttner gives thisinsight about the novel: Sons and Lovers possesses this double quality to a highdegree. It ranks high, very high as a piece of literature and at the same timeembodies a theory which it illustrates and exemplifies with a completeness thatis nothing less than astonishing (277).
Psychologists of today still accept theOedipus complex as a viable explanation for the love and fascination that malechildren display towards their mothers. Lawrence successfully created aneducational novel as well as an easily readable and interesting novel. Literarycritics tend to speculate that Sons and Lovers was written by Lawrence assomewhat of an autobiography centering Pauls life around his own. Whether ornot this is true will never be determined, though it will continue to remain afavorite topic for critical analysis for years to come. BibliographyDraper, R.
P. “D. H. Lawrence on Mother Love. ” Essays in Criticism 8(1958): 285-289.
Rpt. In TCLC. Ed. Dennis Poupard.
Vol. 16. Detroit: Gale, 1985. 293-294. :Kuttner, Aldred Booth.
“Sons and Lovers: A FreudianAppreciation. ” The Psychoanalytic Review. 3 (1916): 295-317. Rpt. In TCLC, Ed. Dennis Poupard.
Vol. 16. Detroit: Gale, 1985. 277-282. :Lawrence, D. H.
Sons andLovers. New York: Barnes & Noble, 1996. :Niven, Alastair. “D. H. Lawrence.
” British Writers. Vol. 7. 1984. 87-126.
:Spilka, Mark. The LoveEthic of D. H. Lawrence. (1955): 244.
Rpt. In TCLC. Ed. Dennis Poupard. Vol. 16.
Detroit: Gale, 1985.