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A multi-faceted dimension of love in ‘Sons and Lovers’

By Vision Reporter

Added 31st October 2004 03:00 AM

NEWSPAPERS IN EDUCATION

Literature made easy

The notion of love is as old as humanity. It has evolved with man. Simon Peter Obbo of Uganda Martyrs’ Secondary School Namungongo explores D.H. Lawrence’s insights on love in the novel Sons and Lovers.

NEWSPAPERS IN EDUCATION

Literature made easy

The notion of love is as old as humanity. It has evolved with man. Simon Peter Obbo of Uganda Martyrs’ Secondary School Namungongo explores D.H. Lawrence’s insights on love in the novel Sons and Lovers.

NEWSPAPERS IN EDUCATION

Literature made easy

The notion of love is as old as humanity. It has evolved with man. Simon Peter Obbo of Uganda Martyrs’ Secondary School Namungongo explores D.H. Lawrence’s insights on love in the novel Sons and Lovers.

David Herbert Lawrence is one of the finest exponents of post - Elizabethan English literature. In his classical Sons and Lovers, he writes an impassioned account of the mainstream life happenings of people in a progressively industrial society.

Lawrence heavily explores the nature of love in his contemporary society. His portrayal of romantic love relationships is negative, an indication no doubt influenced by his own catastrophic relationship with his wife Jessie Chambers. Lawrence however does not leave the questions these failed relationships ask to posterity - we are able to infer his inherent opinions on the subject.

Lawrence immediately offers a radical and sobering portrayal of the Oedipal love complex, that fascinatingly unique situation where sons develop unnatural feelings for their mothers. This develops between Mrs. Morel and her two sons, Williams and Paul. Mrs. Morel brutish disposition and reckless drinking and financial behaviour contrive with Mrs. Morel’s overbearing Puritanism, to effectively doom the marriage.

Mrs. Morel accordingly “casts off” her husband and turns her affections to her sons, William and Paul. While their passionate relationship is not incestuous, it definitely contains a sexual element, especially and explicitly so with Paul. Mrs. Morel and Paul are for instance seen to “kiss and kiss” each other, and while together on one occasion, Lawrence writes of them as being in “ecstasy.”

This relationship is ultimately internecine, for while Mrs. Morel is continually frustrated, incurring petty jealousies here and there, her son’s social development, especially their relation with other women, is severely affected.

Lawrence also explores yet another salient paradigm of love - romantic love. The marriages between Mr. and Mrs Morel and Mr. and Mrs Leivers are portrayed as banal and stained affairs.

Lawrence here subtly heaps the blame on the soulful, intense and puritanical Mrs. Morel and Mrs. Leivers. Their negativity and religious inspired deathliness Lawrence implies, stifles the lively and care-free expression of love in their relationship.

This attitude is no better manifested in Lawrence’s examination of Paul’s relationship with Mariam. The relationship between Paul and Mariam develops from a shakingly platonic one to a fully fledged sexual union before its eventual demise. Mariam is frigid and intense, traits that follow consistently from her mother, Mrs. Leivers. She views pleasurable love as arising from soulful connectivity rather than physical union.

The sexually restive Paul feels differently and his dissatisfaction with Miriam’s lack of free physical expression leads to the end of the relationship.

Clara, Paul’s next companion, is Miriam’s anti -thesis. She carries a heavy and bubbling sensuality that appeals to Paul. Paul, however, remains dissatisfied.

It is clear that he seeks a woman who could strike that fine, delicate balance between the flesh and the spirit, a woman with whom he was both physically and emotionally compatible.

Lawrence passes a stem interrogation of romantic love in this occasion. He evidently is critical of puritanism as embodied by Miriam, and religion’s checking-effect on life and at the same time, his call for tolerance between lovers rings lucidly through.

Other relationships that deserve examination include that of Baxter Daves and Clara and William and the hopelessly inept Mr. Western Arthur and Beatrice are also sexually attracted, while hints are dropped on Leonard’s affection for Annie.

Lawrence thus, potently deals with the nature of love and its accompanying conflicts in his society. In the end, his view supports of tolerance, compatibility, equity and carefree expression of love between lovers as opposed to the strictness of puritanism.

Now attempt these questions

The questions are designed for guided insights on the concept of love.

- Discuss the nature of love as portrayed in Sons and Lovers.

- Account for the special bond that exists between Mrs Morel and Paul in the novel Sons and Lovers.

- How appropriate is the title Sons and Lovers.

- “Sons and Lovers is a novel that treats love with pessimism.” Justify this statement with close reference to the novel Sons and Lovers.

A multi-faceted dimension of love in ‘Sons and Lovers’

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