Sons and Lovers: Examine the Relationships Paul has with the
Women in his Life.
Paul Morel is the main character in DH Lawrence's novel 'Sons and
Lovers'. The story charts his early life from when his parents married and the subsequent birth of four children, through childhood and early adulthood to the death of his mother. During this time three women have a major impact on his life, his mother, Miriam and Clara. Each has the most influence at different times in his life and can be attributed to his childhood, being a young man and early adulthood respectively; but each woman's influence carries on to shape Paul into the man he becomes.
From the very beginning there is a connection between Paul and his mother in that he looks like her with his dark hair and blue eyes. As a child 'he seemed old for his years', grave and serious like Mrs Morel. He is a quiet boy but spirited much like his mother and this increases with age as his other's influence becomes more apparent. 'When she fretted he understood, and could have no peace. His soul seemed always attentive to her' is the way their attachment is described; their bond is very strong and very deep. As Paul grew older she never suffered alone for her husband's faults and what she lacked in life because 'her children suffered with her'. 'It hurt the boy keenly, this feeling about her, that she had never had her life's fulfilment' so much so that it became his
'childish aim' to provide it. When he began to work 'it was almost as if it were her own life'. 'Paul almost hated his mother' for this suffering when his father did not come home from work. He felt she should not waste herself on a man like his father when she could rely on her son. This stems from the jealousy Paul feels of his father because of his place in the household, in his mother's affections and efforts, all of which he disregards. Paul never had a strong constitution as he was subject to bouts of bronchitis. Described as 'delicate', this accounted for his mother's
'difference in feeling for him' compared with her other children. She treated him more tenderly and felt he was of a better mettle than her other children but physically weaker so 'she always felt a mixture of anguish in her love for him'. Further to this Paul could never go home 'empty to his mother' not even when collecting blackberries and because he never did so she did not expe...
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...her. Sunday comes between his visits and it goes slowly, hour after laborious hour. He is physically enamoured of her, for example 'her ear, half hidden among her blonde hair, was near to him. The temptation to kiss it was almost too great.' This leads to the fact that for Paul sex is the culmination of intimacy, but as for Miriam, it is not with Clara either. This proves Paul's relationship with Clara is purely physical, as shown by the descriptions of her such as 'He could see her figure inside the dress, as if that were wrapped closely round her.'
In all the relationships are very different between Clara and Miriam but if you added the aspects of them together they create something of the relationship Paul had with his mother but in a more sexual context. In all of them Paul is content, yet discontent, happy yet sad, calm but angry - he is a mass of contradictions and seems to realise this at the end of the book when he not only symbolically walks away from the mistakes and people of the past but his past self also. It is obvious his mother had a great effect on Paul not only in his actions but in the development of his personality and will probably continue to after her death.