Lawrence, D.H. - Sons and lovers

Presentation / Essay (Pre-University), 2001

5 Pages, Grade: 6 (CH)


D.H. Lawrence - Sons and lovers


Sons and lovers is the first of D. H. Lawrence`s major novels. It plays in Bestwood, a Midland coal-mining village near Nottingham.

The first part of the novel focuses on Mrs. Morel and her unhappy marriage to a drinking coal-miner. She has many arguments with her husband, some of which have painful results: Several times she gets hit or even locked out of the house.

Estranged from her husband, Mrs. Morel takes comfort in her four children, especially her sons. Her oldest son, William, is her favorite, and she is very upset when he takes a job in London and moves away from the family. William is an intelligent, smart boy, he earns a lot of money and lives, in London, a glamorous live with his girlfriend. But the capitalism soon destroys William, he sickens and dies a few years later.

The death of William is very hard for Mrs Morel, she is crushed, and for quite a while she doesn’t even notice the rest of her children, until she almost loses Paul, her second son, as well. At this point Mrs Morel realizes, that she`d better forget her dead son and be alive with the living.

From that point on, Paul becomes the focus of her life, and the two seem to live for each other.

Soon Paul falls in love with Miriam, who lives on a farm not too far from the Morel family. They carry on a very intimate, but purely platonic relationship for many years. Mrs. Morel does not approve of Miriam at all, and so Paul`s heart is divided in two. He loves Miriam, but he cannot let go of his mother and so he constantly wavers in his feelings towards her.

Later on, Paul meets Clara, a suffragette who is separated from her husband, through Miriam. Paul breaks of with Miriam and spends all his time with Clara. But in some way he can` t forget this first love and goes back to her soon.

Paul and Miriam now sleep together and are briefly happy, but shortly afterwards Paul decides that he does not want to marry Miriam, and so he breaks off definitely with her. She still feels that his soul belongs to her, and is sure that he will come back. But Paul has by now realized that he loves his mother most, however.

After breaking off his relationship with Miriam, Paul spends more time with Clara again and they begin an extremely passionate affair.

However, she does not want to divorce her husband Baxter, and so Paul can` t marry her either.

Later on Paul's mother falls very ill and he devotes much of his time to caring for her. When she finally dies, he is broken-hearted and, after a final plea from Miriam, goes off alone at the end of the novel.

Biography of D.H. Lawrence

D.H. Lawrence was born as David Herbert Lawrence in Eastwood, Nottinghamshire on September 11, 1885. He was the fourth child of coalminer and a school-teacher. His tempestuous relationship with his violent father and his passionate bonding with his refined, socially ambitious mother was going to shaped much of his later work.

Eastwood was at that time a coal mining town, filled with hardworking Englishmen and women. But Lawrence was always considered eccentric for his lack of work enthusiasim and his love of literature.

After finishing grammar school, D.H. Lawrence recieved a scholarship to attend Nottingham High School. Ironically, D.H. did not excell in school and after dropping out of school he gained a clerkship in a surgical appliance factory.

It was during this time that D.H. met Jessie Chambers and the two became fast friends. Jessie tutored D.H. and encouraged him to begin writing in 1905. D.H. went on to gain a teaching certificate from University College, Nottingham In 1911, D.H. Lawrence had to stop teaching because of a reoccuring battle with pneumonia. He eloped with Frieda von Richthofen, a German wife of a professor at Nottingham. The couple traveled across Europe and were finally married in 1914 after Frieda's divorce.

During the first worldwar, D.H. and Frieda lived in virtual poverty in England. After the war was over they went abroad and never returned to England again. Lawrence and Frieda lived in Sicily, Sri Lanka, Australia, New Mexico and Mexico.

In 1925 they returned to Europe and on March 2, 1930 Lawrence died of tuberculosis in Vence, France at the early age of 44..

Parallels between D. H. Lawrence and Paul Morel

Sons and lovers contains several autobiographical details, as you may have noticed, after hearing the summery and biography.

The novel is based on D. H. Lawrences early life in the Midlands coalmining village of Eastwood in Nottinghamshire, on his relationship with his mother and father, and on those with his early girlfriends.

In the novel, Eastwood is called Bestwood. The character who corresponds to Lawrence himself is of course Paul Morel.

Lawrence`s experience growing up in a coal-mining family provided much of the inspiration for “Sons and Lovers”.

Like Paul Morel, Lawrence had many affairs with women in his life, too. At the age of 16, Lawrence had a close relationship with a girl called Jessie Chambers, a local farmers daughter. The passion, which Paul Morel feels for Miriam, is certainly based on this friendship. Lawrence also had a very close, claustrophobic relationship to his mother, which is another important parallel to the novels protagonist Paul.

The book also reveals an understanding for his father, whom he seemingly hated, and a latent sense of guilt at his harsh treatment of him is evident.

Another parallel, which could be used as proof for the autobiographical character of Paul, is his weakness. Both, Paul and Lawrence, fell seriously ill with pneumonia. As you heard in the biography, D. H. Lawrence was even forced to give up school-teaching after that illness.

The relationships in 'Sons and Lovers'

D.H. Lawrence was fascinated by human relationships, this fascination affected all his fiction, particularly sons and lovers.

These incomplete and imperfect relationships in sons and lovers are definitely among the most discussed and analysed in English literature.

Main relationship in the novel is that one between Paul and his mother, Mrs Morel. It is at the beginning of Paul` s live wholesome, but then it becomes imprisoning and has even an incestuous overton. The consequence is, that all other relationships are crippled through this one.

Relationship with Miriam

With Miriam, his first love, Paul` s primary contact is spiritual.

Miriam prefers the higher level of affection, spiritual communion and intellectual discussion.

Possibly this is the consequence of women` s liberalisation through education.

When Paul wants physical contact and Miriam rejects him, he is confused, upset and often becomes even cruel.

The spiritual part of the relationship doesn` t work out ether, because Paul`s soul actually belongs to his mother.

These arer the two main reasons why the relationship can` t be complete and perfect!

At this point Paul realises, that he has to leave his soul free to his mother and so he now wants a relationship based mainly on physical contact.

Relationship with Clara

In the following relationship with Clara, Paul at last experiences love and fulfilment in physical ways.

After love - making he refers to coming “out of some dark current of unconsciousness” to be “carried by life”.

But how else could it be, soon these feelings become so strong that Paul begins to fear the powers Clara has over him.

It is now clear, that this relationship can` t be complete and perfect ether, and when Paul` s mother at last falls ill, he feels that he has to go back to home to her.

At this time of his live, Paul seems most aware of his mothers hold on him and he is nearly sucked into the drift towards death at the side of his dying mother.

At this point, Paul is drawn into the last important relationship. The relationship with Clara` s husband, Baxter Dawes.

Relationship with Baxter Dawes

There are different ways of interpreting this relationship b etween Paul and Baxter.

Some people believethat it is a kind of homosexual love. This could be true, because Paul and Baxter have a physical fight in the middle part of the book, and fights between men are often seen as a metaphor for homosexual bonding.

After recovering from that fight, Paul however doesn` t hate Baxter, instead he even starts to visit the man, who is by this time very ill. He brings him gifts, shows affection and even organizes a job for Baxter.

Other voices saythat Paul Morel tries to find his masculinity through the virile Baxter Dawes.

Perhaps Baxter replaces in some ways Paul` s father, to whom Paul actually never had a bond.

This also seems plausible, considering that Paul now even tries to reconcile Baxter and Clara, maybe as a kind of substitution for reconciling his own mother and father.

Excerpt out of 5 pages


Lawrence, D.H. - Sons and lovers
6 (CH)
Catalog Number
ISBN (eBook)
File size
333 KB
Lawrence, Sons
Quote paper
Mark Stauffer (Author), 2001, Lawrence, D.H. - Sons and lovers, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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