Sons and Lovers as an Autobiographical Novel
Novel gained immense popularity during the 20th century. In the history of English novel D. H. Lawrence’s Sons and Lovers is a typical 20th century novel. The 20th century novels bear the characteristics of realism, romanticism, modernism, impressionism, expressionism etc. It was a time of complex human psychology. A contiguous overflow of a thought, which is happening in human psychology become the theme of the novel of the time. After the havoc and destruction of the First and the Second World Wars a great change in human psychology took place.
Prominent psychological writers like- Sigmund Freud, Jung and Lucka came forward with their stimulating psychoanalytical theory. Freud’s theory of Oedipus complex and Lacka’s theory of child’s life or self-development greatly influenced the Novelists of The 20th century. Son’s and lovers by D. H. Lawrence is also a psychological novel where Lawrence as a psychoanalyst brings into focus the subtle and intricate happening in the minds of his characters, like Gertrude Morel , Paul Morel , Miriam and others.
Sons and Lovers as an Autobiographical Novel Essay Example
Sons and Lovers deal with the psychology of the characters. Lawrence examines human life minutely and represents the complexity of human mind in his novel, Sons and Lovers. He brings out the deepest and subtle psychological aspect of his characters specially of Gertrud Morel and Paul Morel. According to the psychologists’ theory, there are three levels of human thought: conscious, subconscious and unconscious. Most of the thoughts lie dominant in subconscious and unconscious level. Sometimes it comes out into surface. Oedipus complex is one of such instinct.
A psychological novelist like Lawrence externalizes the hidden and inner recondite thoughts of subconscious and unconscious mind. The theme of Oedipus complex is a dominant theme of Lawrence’s Sons and Lovers. Gertrude morel is a lady of delicate and refined taste and she married a miner named Walter Morel. Though it was a love marriage, within a few months of their marriage she discovered him as a stranger, a gambler, drunkard and an agitated person. Besides the poverty of Morels family disillusioned her. In spite of remaining as his wife, she lost all the interests for him.
Morel’s rude and aggressive behavior with her and their children made her burdened with life with him. But nevertheless she remains with him because she had loving children as- Annie and William. All her love and affection was transferred to her children specially to her eldest son William who also loves his mother very much. When William came into maturity he managed to earn for family and it made her happy but gradually Mr. Morel becomes an outsider of the family. Because of the crude and vulgarity of his manner his children William and Annie also began to despise him. Mrs.
Morel’s extreme love for her son William made the father jealous. In a state of conflict between husband and wife, both of them felt dreary and lonely. So all the love and affection of a disappointed soul like Gertrud Morel find place in her lovely children especially in the sons- first in William then in Paul. The sons gave hope and spirit in Mrs. Morel’s life. Her heart filled with love and affection first for William then for Paul, her second son. Lawrence in a letter to his friend Edward Garnett said about the relation between mother and son: “But as her sons grew up, she settles them as lovers. This is the kind of love Sigmund Freud mentions as Oedipus complex. According to the theory, if the marriage between the mother and father is not happy and loving, the parents become interested in love for the child of opposite sex. The child functions as the substitute of husband or wife. Lawrence as a psychologist brings out the innermost psychology of his characters, Mrs. Gertrud Morel and her son Paul Morel. Mrs. Morel prevented her sons making love with other woman except her. She prevented William from getting intimate with the gipsy girl Lily.
After the death of William she was slowly transforming her possessive feelings to Paul. Lawrence showed them wandering along the street of Nottingham with joy and excitement just like two lovers. She is a victim of an unhappy marriage. Her failure in life with Morel paved the way of Oedipus complex in her life. She gets attracted to her sons’ manhood. Nothing except Paul is valuable in her life. Paul also knew her passion for him. He loved his mother from his very childhood and could not break her heart. So he remained passive with any relationship with other women like Miriam and Clara.
Miriam loved him intensely. He also had love for her but an unknown hand prevented him from the fulfillment of their relationship. He thought that he is only for his mother. His mother also knows that her only means of life on earth is Paul. What is the horrible consequence of an unhappy marriage, she knows it well. That’s why she says William, “Nothing is as bad as marriage that is a hopeless failure. ” The relation between Paul and Miriam is a kind of spiritual love, yet nothing but his Oedipus feeling prevented him from marrying her. Both Mrs.
Morel and Miriam desired Paul’s love and affection and it eats up the self of Paul. Mrs. Morel knew that Miriam is not like an ordinary woman who can leave her the share she desires in Paul. So she felt awfully worried about Paul. She could not bear it. She could let another woman have Paul but not Miriam. The tormented soul of Mrs. Morel says: “she’d leave me no room, not a bit of room. ” Then she piteously utters: “And I’ve never- You know Paul- I’ve never had a husband- not really. ” Paul helplessly comes forward to console his mother by asserting that he did not love Miriam.
He strokes his mother’s hair and placed his mouth on her throat. Before parting for the night Mrs. Morel kissed him a long fervent kiss. Thus physical intimacy between mother and son become more explicit in the novel. Paul fells disturbed with Miriam as he thinks her foe between him and his mother. Nothing should disturb their relationship. Paul was aware of his helplessness. He frankly admits that he could only give Miriam his friendship- nothing more. Paul’s passion for his mother is also seen when in a railways carriage he noticed that his mother’s body looks frail, he thought that his mother is slipping away from him.
Again in climbing the Cathedral hill, when she was out of breath and had to take rest Paul regrets that his mother is aging. He frankly says his mother: “Why can’t a man have a young mother? What is she old for? ” He regrets for not being her eldest son to find her younger. After Annie’s marriage, Paul realized his mother’s loneliness. So, he asserts to Mrs. Morel that he would never marry and leave her alone. Another woman Clara came in Paul’s life. She aroused the long repressed and over-refined sexual instinct of Paul who is a man of twenty-three. But yet sex remained complicated in him.
Clara’s physical attraction also failed to bring Paul out of his psychological complexity. He thinks that only an over strong virginity in him and Miriam prevented them from physical contact. Paul realizes that the deepest of his love belongs to his mother. The clear sexual over tone of their relationship is seen during their excursion to Lincoln where Paul behaves almost like a lover when he tells his mother, “You forget I am a fellow taking his girl for an outing. ” Mrs. Morel also accepts this sexual aspect in a pleasant mood. Mrs. Morel disapproved not only Miriam but also Clara saying hat he had not yet met the right woman. Paul could understand his mother’s passion for him as well as his weakness for her. So he felt that he would not meet that right woman during her lifetime. Even Clara too realized that Paul cannot come out of himself, so she leaves him and returned to Baxter. Mrs. Morel’s pangs and miseries of life and Paul’s emotional crisis ended with the tragic death of Mrs. Morel. Being unable to carry the psychological torture any more, Paul fed her a heavy dose of morphia with her night milk and next morning at about twelve eternal rest and peace came to the agonized soul.
Paul knelt down by her death-bed and put his face to hers and his arms round her and whispered mournfully, “My love, my love- oh, my love. ’ And after the death of his mother he often moved aimlessly from one place to another, drinking, knocking about with men he knew. The real agony was that he had nowhere to go, nothing to do, nothing to say and was nothing himself. According to Lucka’s theory there are three stages of self-development: imaginary stage, mirror stage and symbolic stage. In the imaginary stage a child often birth thinks its mother as self. It finds itself in it mother.
In the mirror stage he starts to think it differently. In the symbolic stage a child gets the name of his father. In Sons and Lovers Paul first identifies himself with his mother. He then finds his own self and then is identified with his father. But as he found his father, Walter Morel, unattractive and complex he again seeks place in his mother. So he could not found his own self-identity and could not come out of his mother. Lawrence employed the stream of consciousness technique which means a continuous overflow of a thought what is happening in human psychology.
It saves his plot from the bondage of time and chronology. As a modern writer, Lawrence writes from the subjective point of view in order to share his own personal experience with the readers. He tactfully delineates the psychology of the perturbed souls of Gertrude Morel and her son Paul Morel. How psychological complexity destroys a man or woman is seen in the character of Mrs. Morel. As a frustrated wife she failed to enjoy properly the life of a woman and goes through a great complexity and psychological breakdown. She took shelter in a loving male person to make good of an unhappy young lady.
The man also loves her deeply as she expect yet she could not satisfy her mind completely because the loving male person is none but her own loving son to whom all sexual aspects are forbidden for her as his mother. Obsessed with the mix emotional and passionate feelings her mind is completely shattered down. Side by side as a victim of her passionate love her son Paul also lost himself in her and goes through the same psychological complexity. Thus the emotional and sensual crisis of human psychology dominates the plot of Lawrence novel Sons and Lovers. So it is a great psychological novel in the history of English literature.