Showing posts with label Sons and Lovers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sons and Lovers. Show all posts

Monday, November 12, 2012

Role of Walter Morel as a Father in D. H. Lawrence’s Sons and Lovers

Walter Morel is the father figure in the novel Sons and Lovers. He is rough, sensual, hard-drinking father. In many ways, he is his wife's opposite. Walter is from a lower-class mining family. He speaks the local dialect in contrast to his wife's refined English. He loves to drink and dance practices that Gertrude, a strict Congregationalist, considers sinful. There are two ways to look at Walter Morel's failure to be a good husband, father, and family breadwinner. We can see him as a man broken by an uncaring, brutal industrial system and an overly demanding wife. We can also see Walter as his own worst enemy, inviting self-destruction through drink and irresponsibility. 

We learn a good deal about Walter's good and bad qualities in Sons and Lovers, While Lawrence seems to concentrate on the character's violence and irresponsibility, he also gives you a picture of Walter's warm, lively, loving ways. The key scenes of family happiness revolve around the time when Walter stays out of the pubs and works around the house, hugging his children and telling them tall stories of life down in the mines. 

In this novel, Paul utters a line which could be a vital clue to the understanding of the major characters of his father an mother and their mutual incompatibility. “The difference between people isn’t in their class, but in themselves. From the middle classes one gets only ideas and from the common people- life itself, warmth.”

On one occasion Walter fell ill. His wife nursed him back to health with great devotion. Of course, she did not love him any more, yet she realized that he was the bread-winner of the family and that his life was precious to them. At the same time she could not have denied that she had been steadily casting him off, and turning for love and affection to her children. From the time onwards he was more or less a husk. The children now hated him just as their mother did. On one occasion he wanted to thrash the eldest boy, William, because a neighbor had complained to him against the boy’s behavior; but Mrs. Morel did not permit her husband to touch the boy. 

On another occasion, William became so defiant to his father that he was almost ready to hit him. William clenched his fists and was ready for a fight with his father who had spoken to him threateningly. It was Mrs. Morel who prevented the two from coming to blows with each other. Paul too had started hating his father. Every night he would pray to God to make his father stop drinking. It was not only Mrs. Morel who was now suffering the misery of her husband’s drinking habits and his violent behavior, but the children also suffered with her. Indeed, the children thought him to be such a tyrant that the would lie in their beds at night in a state of suspense when he came home nearly drunk, and banged his fist on the table. 

Indeed, Walter was now shut out from all family affairs. No one told him anything. On one occasion, when Paul had won a prize in a competition, his mother told him to tell his father about the prize. Paul’s reaction was that he would rather forfeit the prize than tell his father about it. However, he did give the news to his father, though the father did not express much joy over his son’s winning a prize. In fact, conversation had become impossible between the father and any other member of the family.   He was treated by them as an outsider, an alien.

And yet there was another side to Walter’s character. There were times when he not only behaved affectionately towards his children but was very jovial and merry. He was a good workman not only at the pit, but also in cobbling the boots or mending the kettle. While doing this sort of thing in the house he wanted his children around hi; and they united with him in the work. On these occasions he was his real self. He was not only in a good humor, but he also sang. After periods lasting months and years of friction and bickering with his wife and children, he would become suddenly jolly, and then it was nice for them to see him in a carefree mood soldering a utensil or repairing boots. But the best time for the children was when he made fuses. When the children asked him any question, he would reply most kindly, addressing the question as “my beauty,” “my duckey” and “my darling.” One when Paul fell ill, Walter felt deeply concerned about the boy’s condition. He tried to attend to the sick boy though the boy had no love at all for his father. Walter showed the same love to William when William had gone to London to take up a new job. When William was to pay a visit to the family, Walter spent some very anxious moments because William had not arrived in time. And his eyes were wet when William left again. Once, when he had hurt his leg in an accident at the pit, he was taken to hospital where his wife visited him regularly. He told her that he could not survive; but she told him that nobody ever died of a fractured leg. During this period of hospitalization, she was a source of great comfort to him. And he was not lacking in his appreciation of the attention she was paying him. 

When William died, his grief was immense, though his grief was not half as much as his wife’s grief. For a time he even became gentle towards his wife. William’s death affected him so much that he took care never to go to the locality where William had at one time been working as a clerk, and he always avoided going to the cemetery where William lay buried. Years later, when his wife fell ill, he felt genuinely sad because everybody said that she was dying.

Incidentally, Walter Morel was modeled upon D. H. Lawrence’s own father. On the whole, the portrayal of Walter does correspond to the actual character of Lawrence’s father. However, Lawrence is on record as having said that in this novel he had been unfair to his father. He is believed to have said that, if he were to re-write this novel, he would not portray Walter Morel in such dark colours. Evidently, Lawrence thought that he had exaggerated his father’s faults in portraying Walter Morel.

Lawrence’s Treatment of Nature in Sons and Lovers

Sons and Lovers has a great deal of description of the natural environment. Nature-pictures constitute one of the most conspicuous features of Sons and Lovers. Often, the weather and environment reflect the characters' emotions through the literary technique of pathetic fallacy. The description is frequently eroticized; both to indicate sexual energy and to slip pass the censors in Lawrence's repressive time. Lawrence's characters also experience moments of transcendence while alone in nature, much as the Romantics did. More frequently, characters bond deeply while in nature. Moreover, we have a sense in Sons and Lovers that modern industrial life perverts people. They're cut off from nature and their own instinctive sexuality. Industrialism and its rigid moral code enslave nature and discount the sensual and aesthetic needs of humans.

D.H. Lawrence gives evidence of a painter’s eye for detail in his descriptions of Natural scenes. His observation of Nature was always minute and accurate; and his descriptions of Nature are always graphic. His love for Nature shows a deep security, and his pictures of nature are always concrete and vivid. He may appropriately be called a poet in his attitude to Nature, and a painter in his technique in dealing with it. Romantic in nature, Lawrence saw a curious kinship of man with nature. The emotional life of his characters is much influenced by the active participation of Nature, and technically Nature represents human emotions. 

The Nature-descriptions in Sons and Lovers impart a rare freshness and charm to it. In the novel we find vivid pictures of individual objects of Nature such as the flowers, the birds, the beasts, the sky, the moon, the sun, the trees, the hedges, the creepers, the buds, the blossoms, the meadows, the grass, the thickets, the river and its flow. And all these pictures seem integral to the story.. Furthermore, nature is presented to us in all its hues, colours and tints. We have all the shades: luminous, bright, dim, dark and so on. It is also to be noted that Lawrence’s love of Nature is Keatsian in quality. His love for Nature is deep and sensuous like that of Keats.

In the novel we find beautiful pictures of Nature. When Paul started going to his office in Nottingham by an early morning train, Lawrence gives us a beautiful Nature-picture. Later, when Paul and his mother are going to Willey Farm, we have another brief Nature-picture.  Here we are told that mother and son soon found themselves in a broad green alley of the wood, with a new thicket of fir and pine on one hand, and an old oak glade dipping down on the other hand. Among the oaks, the bluebells stood in pools of azure, under the new green hazels, upon a pale fawn floor of oak-leaves. Paul found flowers to offer to his mother.

Lawrence tends mostly to trace and express human feelings in terms of natural objects. Many a time, it also affects the action, as we are told that Paul and Miriam’s common feeling for Nature was the starting point of their love-affair. We might recall the rose-bush episode where the two are walking together:

“There was a coolness in the wood, a scent of leaves, of honey
Suckle, and a twilight. The two walked in silence. Night came
Wonderfully there, among the throng of dark trunks.”

Often the objects of Nature are used as symbols in novel. The most important symbol is a huge ash-tree that grows outside the Morel residence. Producing shrieking sounds with the west wind, the tree is symbolic of the dark, mysterious forces of Nature which are the forebodes of tragedy in human life. It is a symbolic of the disharmony that exists between the husband and the wife in the Morel family. The tree becomes a symbol of the inner terror of children who shriek and moan inwardly. It also prophesies the future doom which is to beset the Morel family.

Generally Lawrence depicts Nature in its moods; but he is not blind to the grim and stormy aspects of Nature. He chiefly dwells upon the small, everyday objects of Nature and does not seek the unusual and the rare aspects of Nature. The fields around Willey Farm are peaceful and tranquil so as to harmonise with the idyllic life of the human beings there. The rapid and turbulent flow of the river Trent, on the other hand symbolises Paul’s passion for Clara who is with him when he is walking along the river bank. Still, the emphasis in the novel is on the peaceful objects of nature. Another noteworthy point is that Lawrence chiefly dwells upon the small; everyday objects of nature and does not seek the unusual and the rare aspects of Nature.

Lawrence revolted against industrialisation and machinery in his treatment of Nature. Nature symbolises the instinctive life, while machinery exercises a disruptive and dehumanising influence on human beings. He had the feeling that some power flowed into man from Nature, even by means of a contact of the foot of a man with metaphysical relationship between man and Nature. However, Lawrence does not go to find a Devine Spirit in the objects of Nature. He does not give any evidence of making a Pantheistic approach to Nature.

Use of Symbols in Sons and Lovers

D. H. Lawrence makes an extensive use of symbols in his Sons and Lovers. Symbolism means investing a remark or a situation or an incident or an object or even a person with a double significance or a two-fold meaning. One meaning lies on the very surface and is easily understood by the reader. The other or symbolic meaning is hidden in the writing and becomes known to the reader only after a good deal of thought. D. H. Lawrence probes deep into the consciousness of his characters with a clever use of symbols. A proper understanding of these symbols leads to a better understanding of the novel and arises appreciation from the reader. Symbolism is an essential feature of Lawrence’s art, because a symbol “is the expression of a thing not to be characterized in any other better way.” Thus, in order to clearly describe the hidden and the concealed, Lawrence makes use of symbols which in their turn also increase the expressiveness of his language.

There is an abundance of symbols in Sons and Lovers; and practically all the symbolism here has consciously been introduced by the author. Now let’s turn to some of the symbols used by D. H. Lawrence.

The symbol of the Ash-Tree

The ash-tree has been effectively used by Lawrence to describe the sinister and dark aspects of life. It is symbolic of the dark, mysterious forces of nature which are the foreboders of tragedy in human-life. It is symbolic of the disharmony that exists between the husband and wife in the Morel family. The persistent bickering of the parents becomes a terror for the children, who lying awake upstairs are unable to coherently apprehend as to what would happen ultimately. The tree becomes a symbol of the inner terror of children who strike and moan inwardly. It also prophesies the future doom which is to beset the Morel family.

The Symbol of the Coal-pits

The entire life of the mining community depicted in the novel depends upon the coal-pits which stand on the horizon. The coat-pits are not indispensable for a better understanding of the novel but they are symbolic of a particular attitude towards life. Walter Morel with his irrational life principle has a close association with them. The descent and ascent of the coal pits is a symbol of the sexual rhythm or a rhythm of sleep and awakening. The naturalness of the coal pits stand in contrast against the artificial way of life of the sophisticated people.

The symbol of the Swing

The Swing at Willey Farm is symbolic of the love-hate relation that is characteristic of Paul-Miriam relationship. Similar to the background and forward movement of the swing, Paul loves Miriam for one thing but suddenly hates her for another. Though, his hatred for her is also transitory and is soon replaced with love. Hence, the movement of the swing symbolizes, the two extremes of their attitude towards each other i.e. love for one moment and hate the other moment. It is also expressive of their inability to hold on to each other for a very long time.

Miriam’s inability to attain a certain height on the swing as Paul does is significant of her sexual frigidity. As on the swing she fails to attain the sexual heights in her physical relationship with Paul and performs it as a religious duty. Thus, she fails to provide Paul with the physical fulfillment that he is desirous of.

The symbol of the Hens

The symbolic pecking of the hens at the hands of Paul and Miriam stands in juxtaposition to the sexuality thwarted relationship that Miriam is going to have with Paul in the later part of the novel. Miriam’s sexual inhibition is emphasized here; in spite of Paul’s persistence that it does not hurt it only nips, Miriam is afraid to let the hen peck at her hand. This scene symbolically forecasts the disastrous failure that Miriam is going to face in attaining sexual fulfillment with Paul.

The Symbol of the blood tie between Paul and Mrs Morel

In the very beginning of the novel when Mrs. Morel has a quarrel with her husband, in an outrage of anger she is hit with a drawer which is flung at her. The wound bleeds profusely and two drops of blood fall on the hair of Paul who is in the hands of Mrs.Morel at the moment. The blood is not cleared away but it gets soaked in to the scalp of Paul. This small incident is symbolic of the disillusioned and tattering relationship of the husband and wife and the subsequent reversal of attitude of Mrs Morel towards her husband and the ultimate substitution of her sons in place of her husband.  The scene is also symbolic of the contract of soul between the mother and son which is sealed with a blood tie.

The symbol of the Orange Moon

The emotional lives of the characters of Lawrence are much influenced by the active participation of nature. Walking together one evening Paul and Miriam witness a large orange moon staring at them. The passion in Paul is aroused by the sight of the moon. Though Miriam is also deeply moved but Paul fails to get across to her. Violent sexual passion is aroused in Paul, thus the orange moon becomes a symbol of the aroused passion in Paul.

Nature’s Benediction

Lawrence makes nature send its benediction on his characters who wish to live willfully or upon those who wish to attain happiness through their vital instinct. Before the birth of Paul, Mrs Morel is once shut out  of the house after a quarrel, by her husband into the garden, here she feels the presence of nature under the “blinding” August moon. She is expecting Paul and she feels herself melting away I the moon light along with the child. Later when she is allowed into the house by Morel, she smiles upon herself seeking her face smeared with the pollen dust of lilies. The yellow dust is symbolic of the kiss of benediction for both the mother and hild and it also confirms their vitality.

Similarly on another occasion when Paul rises after making love to Clara on the bank of the river. There lie on the ground many scarlet, carnation petals like splashed drops of blood, and red small splashes fall from her bosom, streaming down her dress to her feet. This is again symbolic of the benediction of flowers showered upon them for their perfect union. In still another occasion, the rose bush is used as a symbol of the witness to the spiritual communion of Paul and Miriam which they achieve while watching the rose bush together in perfect harmony.

Symbols of Flowers

The most important of the flower symbols are presented in the scene where Clara has just been introduced to Paul by Miriam. All three of them walk in an open field with its many “clusters of strong flowers” they begin to pick flowers. Though, there is natural beauty in flowers that Paul picks, yet he picks them scientifically. He has a spontaneous and direct contact with the flowers. Miriam, though she picks the flowers lovingly and reverentially yet she seems to derive the life out of them. Her bunches lack elegance. But Clara does not pick them at all, defiantly asserting that flowers should not be picked because it kills them.

Thus, on a closer reading of these floral symbols one feels, that it depicts the attitude of various characters towards life. Mrs. Morel has a vital and healthy attitude towards flowers. The scenes where Paul brings her flowers are warm and gay. Since the love of Paul and Miriam develops in the midst of natural surroundings, the flower is symbolic of its freshness and innocence. They also symbolize the beauty ad youth of Miriam.

There are various other symbols of the burned potatoes symbolizing Miriam’s total absorption in Paul. On the other had the charred bread symbolizes Paul’s total absorption in Miriam. Hope and optimism are symbolized at the end of the novel with the help of the gold phosphorescence of the city. Hence, the symbolism uses in Sons and Lovers is quite simple and easy to understand. They are in no way complex but rather help to a better understanding of the novel.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Sons and Lovers: A Psychoanalytic Criticism

Psychoanalysis is a psychological approach that focuses on the concepts of Sigmund Freud and helps us to understand human behavior. D.H. Lawrence’s Sons and Lovers (1913) is a text that cries out for a psychoanalytic interpretation.One of Freud’s most famous theories is the Oedipus complex, which deals with a child’s emerging sexuality. Freud used the story of Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex to help illustrate his theory. In the story, Oedipus unwittingly kills his father and marries his mother. According to Freud, all male children form an erotic attachment to their mother and are jealous of the relationship the father has with the mother. The male child fears he will be castrated by the father so he represses the sexual desire for the mother and waits for his own sexual experience. However, if the boy does not fulfill these steps, then he will carry the oedipal complex with him into adulthood (Dobie 52-53). As a result, having this complex makes it very difficult to form adult relationships with others. In other words, if the child never grows out of this type of behavior, he will be dysfunctional in adulthood.

The Oedipus complex theory attracted attention in 1910 when psychoanalyst Ernest Jones published Hamlet and Oedipus. Freud had already applied his theory to literature, but this was the first time the Oedipus complex had been emphasized in a major literary work such as Hamlet. The character of Hamlet shows signs of having a repressed Oedipus complex in the relationship he has with his mother (Guerin 161-162). In Sons and Lovers, Gertrude Morel has a dysfunctional relationship with her two sons, William and Paul. Therefore, the text is conducive to this type of analysis because the Oedipus complex and other psychoanalytic concepts are displayed so vividly in their relationships.

The beginning of the Oedipus complex appearing in William and Paul is exemplified in the relationship between the parents. The boys witness an abusive marriage in which Walter Morel often comes home drunk after squandering the family’s income gambling. All of this causes the boys to hate their father and be sympathetic and protective towards their mother.

In their mother, the children see someone who is good and pure. She, in turn, keeps her sons all to herself and sheltered from their father. By this act, Gertrude Morel is unconsciously molding her sons into what she wants, so eventually they can take the place of her husband. She is clearly unhappy in her marriage, so she tries to live vicariously through her sons. This is the stimulus that allows the oedipal attachment to form in the two boys.

William is the oldest son and the mother’s favorite. He does everything he can to please her. Sibling rivalry exists between William and Paul as they compete for their mother’s affection. Mrs. Morel becomes jealous of William’s female companions and he eventually moves to London. William’s moving to London was his unconscious way of trying to break free from the oedipal attachment to his mother. In London, William meets a girl by the name of Lily. They become engaged but William is not happy. He has a misogynistic attitude towards her. It is very clear Lily does not possess the good qualities he sees in his mother and it angers and frustrates him.
William exhibits classic symptoms of displacement. When William voices his dissatisfaction with Lily, his mother asks him to reconsider marrying her. He responds, “Oh well, I’ve gone too far to break it off now (Lawrence 130). These conflicted feelings that William is experiencing are a sign of his apparent
struggle to rid himself of the oedipal fixation and the reader is not surprised when William eventually gets sick and dies.

After William dies, Paul takes his place as his mother’s favorite. By her actions, one would think she thought of him as a suitor. This is evident when she accepts a bottle of perfume spray from him. “Pretty!” she said in a curious tone, of a woman accepting a love-token (Lawrence 69). As Paul reaches adulthood, it is quite evident the Oedipus complex has taken him over. His relationship with his father is strained and he becomes jealous of him. He even asks his mother not to sleep with the father anymore (Lawrence 215).

Paul meets Miriam Leivers and although he likes her, he repeats the same misogynistic behavior as William did with Lily. He feels he would be betraying his mother by being with her. However, the idea that Paul is interested in someone other than his mother shows an attempt to break the oedipal fixation he has. But, the mother foils this attempt by making him feel guilty for wanting to be with Miriam. She says, “I can’t bear it. I could let another woman – but not her. She’d leave me no room, not a bit of room. And I’ve never -- you
know Paul -- I’ve never had a husband, not really” (Lawrence 212).

This same behavior the mother exhibited with William, by being jealous of his female companions, is now being inflicted on Paul. She reinforces the Oedipus complex that is within Paul by suffocating him and in a subtle way asking him to replace her husband. Paul’s relationship with Miriam is reduced to friendship. He has to repress any romantic feelings that he might have for her, so she will not replace his mother.
Later in the novel, Paul does become physically intimate with Miriam, but it is short-lived because Paul will not marry her. This also shows that Paul suffers from a fear of intimacy as he continues to remain emotionally detached from Miriam. Once again, Paul succumbs to the oedipal attachment for his mother. However, Paul does have an affair with a married but separated woman by the name of Clara Dawes. Paul allows himself to have this relationship because he knows that realistically this relationship can never go anywhere. She would never divorce her husband. Therefore, Clara is not a threat to Paul’s oedipal fixation to his mother. There is no danger of her taking his mother’s place.

Paul’s mother becomes ill. Since she is bedridden and in pain, Paul gives her morphine. However, he administers an overdose of morphine to her, which leads to her death. While this might be seen as euthanasia, it seems equally likely that killing his mother was Paul’s unconscious way of releasing himself from the Oedipus complex once and for all. Her death leaves Paul devastated and alone. Although much time has passed, Miriam still wants to be with Paul, but he refuses. It is clear that even after his mother’s death, he is still not free from his attachment to her because he chooses to remain alone. The dysfunctional
relationship with his mother is still present in Paul’s life and it appears the Oedipus complex is still intact.

By applying psychoanalytic criticism to Sons and Lovers, one can gain a better understanding of the text. What may at first look like unbelievable behaviors can be understood and recognized by using this type of criticism. Psychoanalysis adequately explains the relationships within the Morel family. It also allows us to see the Oedipus complex, which is so blatant throughout Sons and Lovers.

The Compulsive Mother in D.H. Lawrence’s Sons and Lovers

A mother’s love for her children is special. The maternal bond between mother and son is very powerful. As Ann Oakley quotes, “Women as the guardians of children possess a great power. They are the molders of their children's personalities and the arbiters of their development.” It is a mother’s instinct that causes her to love and nurture her son. It is the first form of love that a son can receive. As Hamilton Wright Mabie writes, “The mother loves her child most divinely, not when she surrounds him with comfort and anticipates his wants, but when she resolutely holds him to the highest standards and is content with nothing less than his best.” This is how a mother loves her son.

It is also important for the mother to know when to let go of her son and allow him into the world. The bond between mother and son will last a lifetime. That does not mean that control is the only way for that bond. In D.H. Lawrences’s Sons and Lovers, the bond between mother and son is exemplified in a profound way. However, Mrs. Morel’s relationship with her sons, especially Paul, proves to be harmful to the growth of her sons. As Eleanor Sullo agrees, “Paul Morel’s imprisoning relationship with his mother cripples all his other relationships,” (1). Mrs. Morel’s compulsive controls over her sons eventually leads to Paul’s dependence and need for her, but becomes harmful when she dies leaving him alone and not ready to face the world alone.

In order to understand the compulsive relationship between Mrs. Morel and her sons, it is important to understand what kind of women Gertrude Morel is. Gertrude Morel is a strong character. Throughout the novel, she deals with many problems and goes through a lot of hard times. She has had to deal with her husband Walter who is an alcoholic, abusive and does not help her in the raising of her children. She attempted to make her home a better place by continually trying to revive her relationship with her irresponsible husband. Besides only financial aid from Walter, Gertrude continued to raise four children practically by herself. She gives her children the love, self-confidence, and ambition that they need in order to grow and be happy (Berc 13).

Gertrude is also very protective of her children. Twice she protects them from Walter. The first time she stops William from getting into a right with Walter even though William knows he can beat him. The second time is when a neighbor accused William of ripping her son’s clothes. Gertrude takes William’s side and Walter takes the neighbors’ side and eventually Walter backs down. From this it is evident that Gertrude is a strong figure that holds the family together. Gertrude is extremely happy when her sons do well which compels her to think that she is doing a good job in raising them. As Ross Murfin agrees, Mrs. Morel “gives more [to her sons] than she receives,” (23). Another aspect of Gertrude is her love of life. Even through all the pain and hardships, she never complains and continues to be positive. Even at the time of death she smiles and tries to still be there for Paul. As Berc puts it, “In many ways. Mrs. Morel embodies the Victorian concept of the ideal mother,” (23).

Although she seems to be a very good mother, there was also a bad side to Gertrude Morel. For example, there are times when Walter realizes that he is wrong and tries to make it better, but Gertrude will not let him. Gertrude could also be rather strict and hot-tempered. There is a part where Paul and Mrs. Morel are shopping and he makes a comment on something that she was going to buy. Mrs. Morel responds with, “I’ll jowl your head for impudence,” (Lawrence 88). This does not seem like the loving mother that she was previously described as. In the part where William almost beat up Walter, Walter leaves the reader with his opinion of his wife’s relationship with her children. He says, “But they’re like yourself; you’ve put `em up to your own tricks and nasty ways” (71). Although uneducated, Morel does see some truth in the dark side of Mrs. Morel.
The largest negative light that is seen of Mrs. Morel is her control over the lives of her sons.

Although Mrs. Morel had control over her entire family, this paper focuses on William and more importantly Paul. The relationship between William and Gertrude was quite unique. Gertrude, sick and tired of trying to change the ways of Walter, was looking forward to the birth of William. The effort that she tried to put towards loving Walter would now be passed on to her first born son. She invests more and more hope in William in making her life a better place (Black 48). At one point Gertrude even said, “The world seemed such a dreary place…at least until William grew up,” (Lawrence 15). Before William was born, Gertrude did not want him. She did not want to bring someone into a home like hers. Gertrude and William’s strong relationship was built upon her need to give love to someone. Another reason for their relationship is their share in hatred for Walter. Early on in William’s life, he begins to hate his father. There are two main scenes where William shows this: when he wants to beat him up and when he ripped the neighbor’s shirt. This hatred draws Gertrude to William and keeps their relationship together. There are also examples when they have both suffered because of Walter. In one scene, William and Gertrude are hugging and crying to one another because of the actions of Walter. They help one another through the pain that his father has caused him. Another reason why Gertrude begins to like William is because he presents a chance for her to be effective in making a difference to someone else. She tried to make Walter a better person, but he was too stubborn. However, with William, she has a fresh start to mold him into her ideal image (Berc 36). However, the lengths that Gertrude goes to in order to achieve goal this hurts William and eventually leads to his death.

As William grew older, he became more and more successful. Like his mother, he was persistent in all that he did. He became very successful in his work. William was also well liked by everyone. He brought the family together more than any one else could. However, he could not stand his father so much that he couldn’t take it living with him. When a job opportunity came for him in London, he readily accepted. This made Gertrude feel abandoned and she let William know that she felt this way. Gertrude made William feel guilty for this. Actually, Mrs. Morel was good at using guilt to get what she wanted. When William was younger, he and his sister Annie went to a local fair. He was having so much fun and was very excited that his mother was coming too. William was also extremely happy because he has won two eggcups in a carnival game. However, when he proudly shows his mother his prize, she gets angry with him and leaves the fair with Annie. William’s happy mood has ended and now feels guilty for hurting his mother’s feelings. The way that Mrs. Morel put down the happiness of William is seen throughout the novel, especially with Paul. As Berc points out, this is one of the first examples where we see the great power that Gertrude has over her children (34). Trying to please himself and his mother at the same time becomes more and more difficult as William grows older.

As William becomes more and more successful, he stays in London longer. He continues to write to Gertrude, which pleases her greatly. He also has a lot of money that he uses to help his mother. He still would visit home when he could, which was a treat to the family. Whenever he would do this, he would bring presents for the family that he bought with all the money that he was earning. They would all be so happy to see him. Even Walter was happy when he came home. When he came home, the Morel family was at its best. However, along with money and popularity came girls. William was good looking and successful in London. Wherever he went he always seemed to have girls following him. He would spend his money on fine dining, parties and dances, much to the demise of his mother. She was happy that he was successful yet at the same time afraid that she would lose him (Berc 46). She could not stand that something was coming in the way between her and her son. She especially hates the women that he enjoys the company of. They represent other woman figures that he could give his love to rather than give it to his mother. Gertrude knows how much influence she has on her son and uses that against him. When he brings home his fiancĂ©, Gyp, she greatly disapproves. The rest of the family enjoys Gyp, but because she wants control of her son, she despises her. Her despise of Gyp eventually leads William to share in her hatred, much like they both hated Walter. She wouldn’t even go to bed until both William and Gyp went to be separately. To this, William asks his mother “Can’t you trust us mother? (Lawrence 148). She could trust him, but she would rather them not be together at all. Once again there is another example of how Mrs. Morel does not allow her sons to do what makes them happy.

As time went on, William found it harder and harder to stay with Gyp back in London. This was all because he was trying so hard to please his mother and change her. This effort tired him out so much that he got pneumonia and died. He tried so hard making Gyp a person his mother would approve of, but he could not. William knew that his inability to transfer his love from his mother to a mate would kill him (Berc 63). Therefore there is some truth in saying that it was ultimately Mrs. Morel that killed William. Had Mrs. Morel supported William in his attempt to live his own successful life, it is safe to say that he may have lived longer. But, since Mrs. Morel is too controlling and compulsive, she cannot allow her son to be independent. Berc even states that Gertrude has trouble letting go of her children and that it is a parent’s responsibility to know when to “cut the apron strings” and let go (46). William attempted to cut the strings himself and failed. However, it will be Paul that will have a harder time cutting his strings from his mother. Paul’s strings are stronger and contain many more knots.

Paul Morel and his relationship with his mother are one of the most visible themes in the novel. The seemingly loving relationship between a mother and a son is conveyed through this relationship. However, because Mrs. Morel was too controlling of Paul, their relationship proved to be damaging to his life. When Paul was born, William was in the spotlight. Like William, he hated his father. When William wanted to hit Walter, Paul was secretly wishing that he did so. The main difference between Paul and William was that William made an attempt to get his own control of his life, and succeeded in doing so for a little while. Paul was different. He was very artistic and creative, which greatly angered his father. He was very easy to get along and fun to be with. When he worked at the factory, the girls loved to talk to him and be with him. He was energetic and made the day more fun. He was also more spiritual than William was. Unlike William, who loved dancing and physical gifts and pleasures, Paul enjoyed the simple things. He liked nature and cooking. He found something beautiful in everything. He also helped his mother do many things. He helped pay the rent. He went shopping with his mother. He helped his mother cook and clean the house. He even picked up his father’s check with his weekly earning and helped him count it. He was the one that snapped Gertrude out of her trance that she was in after William’s death. Paul was over all a real good person.

Paul also loved a girl. Her name is Miriam. Paul first met Miriam at her family’s farm. Paul’s mother thought that fresh air in the country help his lungs heal quicker from the pneumonia and she had not seen her friends, the Leivers, in a while. Miriam is also a complex character. She is overpowering, like Paul’s mother, which is a plausible reason why Paul is attracted to her. As Berc points out, Miriam is a very abstract character (61). It is this aspect of her that causes her to have such an effect on Paul. Miriam becomes Paul’s inspiration to his artwork. She causes him to make beautiful paintings that eventually get bought and marveled at. Miriam and Paul eventually became lovers. They wrote each other love letters. They went on romantic walks where they both shared nature at its best, inspiring to Paul. They had serious talks about love and marriage and life. Paul also taught Miriam French. One thing that neither could do was having sexual relations with the other. Paul simply could not force himself to love her that way. Miriam gave herself up to him, but Paul did not want her unless she wanted it too. Secretly they both wanted to have a physical relationship, but they couldn’t. Both of them asked the other to marry them, but they were both denied. Miriam also makes many sacrifices to Paul. She stays loyal to him even when he ignores her or gets angry with her because his mother makes him that way. She also has perseverance to try to get Paul to look past his mother’s blinding hatred toward her.

As with Mrs. Morel’s treatment of William’s love, she also does not approve of Miriam. Because of this disapproval, she treats Miriam horribly. There are two main times when the hatred of Miriam is shown. The first is when Miriam was over for dinner and she was rejected when she asked to help do the dishes. This act represents acceptance and by not allowing Miriam to help, it is Gertrude’s way of telling her that she doesn’t like her (Berc 68). The second example is when Clara and Mrs. Morel are making fun of Miriam when she stopped in to say hi. Paul actually becomes angry and annoyed. He actually feels sorry for her. Another example is when the bread burned that Paul was supposed to look after. Even though Paul let it burn because he was talking to some other girl who had left by the time Gertrude came home, Miriam gets blamed for Paul’s blunder. When Paul confronts his mother about her hatred of Miriam, the truth comes out. Paul was late one night from going out with Miriam. After asking if he came right home after dropping her off and receiving no answer, Mrs. Morel says, “She most be wonderfully fascinating, that you can’t get away from her, but must go trailing eight miles at this time of night,” (Lawrence 185). She seems very annoyed with the fact that Paul was with Miriam. Later in the conversation Gertrude says that it is not that she doesn’t like Miriam, but that she doesn’t like her children “keeping company”. Paul answers back by asking why she doesn’t mind Annie and her boyfriend. Gertrude replies with the main reason why she hates Miriam so much. She says, “They’ve [Annie and her boyfriend] more sense than you …[because] our Annie’s not one of the deep sort,” (Lawrence 186).

This is the key to the control that Mrs. Morel has on Paul. Paul’s relationship with Miriam is deep love. They do not share a physical relationship, but an emotional one that ties the two of the, together. As Sullo states, “With Miriam, Paul’s primary contact is spiritual and cerebral (1). To Gertrude, this would not do. She wanted to be the only one in her son’s life that could love him and be loved by him in such a matter. This relates back to her own relationship with Walter who did not love her that way. She needed that and she was willing to ruin her son’s life based on that. This reasoning also explains why Mrs. Morel liked Clara so much. This was shown once again using the “washing the dishes” analogy. Mrs. Morel allowed Clara to wash the dishes, thus representing her approval. The relationship between Clara and Paul was strictly physical. Paul got into the relationship because he was frustrated with how he and Miriam’s relationship lacked this physical aspect. However, unlike Miriam, Clara did not inspire Paul. She causes his artistic side, the side that made him unique, to falter. When he realized this, he stopped the relationship with Clara. Mrs. Morel saw that if Miriam could only win her son’s sex-sympathy there would be nothing left for her (Black 21). But, sense Miriam only won her son’s emotional and spiritual sympathy, Mrs. Morel was scared that she would lose the love from her son. She knew that Miriam was “Mrs. Morel’s rival for the possession of Paul’s soul” (Berc 65).

This bitter struggle for Paul caused a lot of jealousy to arise in Mrs. Morel. “Mrs. Morel grows increasingly nervous and jealous about Miriam’s hold on Paul,” (Berc 67). When Paul wanted to read a poem to Miriam, Gertrude got really jealous. It says, “Mrs. Morel sat jealously in her own chair. She was going to listen too,” (Lawrence 201). She was jealous for a reason that seems rather trivial. Like she did with William, Gertrude makes Paul feel guilty about many things. First, Paul is extremely guilty about the broken umbrella, the one that William gave his mother, which he thinks he has broken. It is a simple umbrella, but he makes a big deal out of it. Mrs. Morel also makes Paul feeling really guilty about burning the bread. It was one loaf out of many, but she gets so angry with him that it makes him feel guilty about loving Miriam. This guilt leads him to break up with her, in which he tells his mother about it first to which she replies, “I think it will be best…I don’t think she is suited for you,” (Lawrence 333). It is clear that Gertrude is happy to have her son back. Mrs. Morel also makes Paul feel guilty when he goes out with his friends and comes back to find out that she is sick. It is not his fault that she is sick and he should not feel guilty about it.

In the end, Gertrude’s health fails until she is in a lot of pain and suffering. She knows that she is dying and Paul is miserable because of it. He is also miserable because he does not have Miriam, so his creative mind is at rest. He can’t stand to see his mother, who was so strong and was always there for him in so much pain. He and Annie agree to put her out of her misery by giving her morphine pills crushed in her milk. After this, Paul was in agony. He could not function without his mother because he was so reliable on her. The following lines show the agony that Paul was in:

“She was the only thing that held him up, himself, amid all this. And she was gone, intermingled herself. He wanted her to touch him, have him alongside with her,” (Lawrence 473).

Mrs. Morel’s compulsiveness over her son hurt him in all aspects. He was not able to marry because no girl could live up to his and his mother’s ideals. He could not practice his love of art because his mother hated the one person that inspired him. He always felt guilty that he wasn’t giving her enough love. He was too attached to his mother to truly get to see things in his own eyes and make himself his own person. As D.H. Lawrence writes, “Meanwhile William grew bigger and stronger and more active, while Paul, always rather delicate and quiet, got slimmer, and trotted after his mother like her shadow,” (58). That is precisely how the novel went. Both William and Paul died in a sense. William died because he was so strong and though he could live without any help from his mother. Paul died because he let his mother dictate his life much like a shadow is controlled by the owner of itself. Neither way is the best way to live life.

Oliver Wendell Holmes sums up what a true mother is: “Youth fades; love droops, the leaves of friendship fall; A mother's secret hope outlives them all." Mrs. Morel did have hope for both her successful sons, but because she tried to be too protective and controlling, she killed them both. The balance needs to be there. A mother needs to know when to be protective and when to let go. Either way, a child knows that the mother wants the best for him or her.