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Throughout the novel, we gain a good understanding of what the character of Walter Morel is like, in certain parts, we can 100% empathise with Gertrude and understand her struggle and strife, yet there are moments in the text, when I for one, see Walter is the vulnerable, mis-understood character he really is. I believe he is the one, not Gertrude, who deserves the readers sympathy.
We know Walter to be an alcoholic, and in all honesty a pretty poor father, however, we(well, I) can also see why he has become like this. Gertrude has a massive impact on Walters character, as throughout the novel, he becomes pushed further and further from his children, to the point where he is “hated” by them and “despised” by his wife.
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In this very chapter we learn about the very first meeting between the couple, where Walter first wowed his new wife, it is here that Walter gets a brilliantly positive description by Lawrence, as he says Morel was “very smart”, he is given a rather attractive description, with black wavy hair and a thick beard, we are also given an insight into his character, he laughed a lot during the first meeting, thus suggesting a happy, relaxed figure. He also appears a rather bold and likable character, Gertrude finds her self strangely attracted, despite being described as “opposite” to her new found love.
We find out that the relationship is built on lies, and Morel infact is not as senior down the pits as he once claimed, and also does not own neither his home nor all the furniture. However, I believe that the mess the couple are in because of these lies is not ALL Morel’s fault. He has a massive part to play indeed, but so does Gertrude, who so heartily rushed into a marriage with a man she barely knows, merely taking his word for his position and finances without a slight bit of question, and dropping considerably below her social status, something scarcely done in the era in which this is set.
It is in this chapter that we find out that Walter is “despised” by Gertrude, a very harsh term to use, but one that is understandable, having lied to her in the first place, developing into an alcohol dependant, rather poor father and husband, her reaction is perfectly rational one would think.
The chapter contains lengthy description of Morels drunkenness and bad attitude as well as his temper, which I feel is best described in the section at the end of chapter one where it describes what Walters mouth, appeared to be saying, “I don’t care who you are, nor what you are, I will have my own way!”. That sums up Walters respect for other people, as well as his very unpredictable temper.
We also see a section, possibly the most important in chapter one, deliberately left until last in this essay, where Morel cuts Williams hair, this drives Gertrude beyond anger, and fury to a mood of apocalyptic proportions….ish. When she discovers the hair cut, she goes as far as to say that she could kill Morel for what he has done.
In chapter two we see Walter at a rather vulnerable point in his life, when he feels like a stranger in his own home, partly through his own actions and partly through his wife turning his small children against him, we see Walter described in the terms “Physically even, he shrank, and his fine full presence waned” this is a heart breaking description of a man once so proud and hearty, I feel that this description of his character can not be without blame for Gertrude, why would he change so much otherwise? Her presence in the family has caused him to be like this, I believe.
Following this, we get a beautiful description of Morel, where he wakes up, and goes downstairs to prepare himself for his day at work, we see Walter Morel, the seemingly gentle, vulnerable man who appreciates the simplicity of his life, rather than the complex nature of his wife, a more educated woman. We see Morel cook his bacon on his form, and catch the fat on his bread, this is a wonderful description of how a man like Morel takes in life what he is given and does what he sees best to make the most of it. The key to this however, is that he is alone, he has no-one interfering with him, I.e. Gertrude. This section I feel shows how Walter could be, even possibly as a parent, if given the freedom and space to do so, If he was allowed time to be a good father.
I sympathise with Morel more than ever in this next section where he takes a cup of tea to his ill wife, and being herself she refuses his gesture, the poor man is trying to do what he sees fit, he is not a family man, he is not an educated man, but he tries, and she flat out refuses to accept his trying, she would rather a man who knew the right things to say or do, forgetting she’s the one who got herself into the mess.
We see a controversial section next as Walter seemingly prefers to eat and drink first before going to see his new born child upstairs, this section can be argued to present Walter either positively or negatively, I understand how he looks like a scummy character to merely ignore the birth of his child, an idea which would sicken most people, he would rather sit down in silence and at then have the nerve to wait twenty minutes before going to see his new son. However we can also sympathise, as he knows (as do we from the tea section) that if he goes and tries to bond with the child that he will be turned away and another potential relationship will be lost.
In this very chapter, we see another incident that clearly is important, when Morel angrily pulls a drawer out, and it flies across the room and cuts Gertrude above the eye, this again can present Morel in one of two ways, as we know it was accidental but again shows his temper, however, once the incident had occurred he did immediately go over and check on her, however I personally don’t feel he does enough.
There are three key words soon after this section where Lawrence says about Morels feelings toward his wife “he hated her” this now coincides with her feelings, this in my mind shows him and a likeable character, as we see that he after all she has put him through only no hates her, after all, she had hated him long, long before this.
As time goes on, Walter gets more and more detached from his family, all the children but one seem to get separated from him, his saving grace is his son, Arthur, who soon enough follows suit and turns against his father, victimising the now quite old man.
As Walter and William of man Walter s, a other, it shows what sort of man Walter s, a other, it shows what sort of man Walter s, a despicable one in all honestly, as he is prepared to fight his own son. Yet for some reason I find myself not blaming Walter, thought what he has done throughout the book thus far is wrong, and he brought a lot of it upon himself, he has been victimised by his disgrace of a wife, and their children(albeit through his wife) he has been left as a stranger in his own home, where he feels completely unwanted and un-necessary. Walter gets a lot of my sympathy for the way he is treated for often acted the only way he knows how, he makes an effort and gets repelled. He tries to form a bond and gets repelled. Though he does things wrong himself, I.e his bullying, particularly of Annie, he still does not deserve the treatment the rest of the family subject him to. I feel Gertrude is more to blame for the disruption in the home, due to her attitude towards her husband, and even her children, as she knowingly turns them against their father, probably sighting the fact that he ruined her life, however, it was entirely her own fault. I find her to be an obnoxious, and very hypocritical character, as she shows on numerous occasions, notably: Her audacity - she considers herself above all the local women, and men in fact, yet when she needs them she calls upon the help of the community, despite being arrogant enough to consider herself better than them, forgetting of course it was she who dropped classes, no-one else. Her hypocrisy comes from the section where we her turn away a girlfriend of Williams, whom he met at a dance, and proceeds to lecture him on why girls from dances are a bad idea, forgetting of course she once was one.
Overall, as bad a man as Morel is, he still deserves some sympathy, whereas as far as I can tell, Gertrude deserves very limited sympathy, but Walter deserves a significant amount because of the way he gets punished and blamed for other peoples mistakes.