Sons and Lovers is
one of the best-known works of the most influential, yet controversial
writer of the Modern tradition of English literature, D. H. Lawrence. Published
in 1913, the novel was banned for a number of years because of the complex and
complicated issues portrayed in it. I will firstly analyze it from a psychoanalytic point of view.

Psychoanalytic criticism implements the methods
of “reading” employed by Sigmund Freud in the early 20th
century. He argues that literary texts, like dreams, express “the secret
unconscious desires and anxieties of the author, that a literary work is a manifestation
of the author’s own neuroses.” (Delahoyde , web) One may psychoanalyze a particular
character within a literary work as if it is a real person, discussing the unconscious
forces that makes it act the way it does, but it is usually assumed that all
such characters are projections of the author’s psyche. We can also analyze an
author as if he were a patient. (Course notes)

We Will Write a Custom Essay Specifically
For You For Only $13.90/page!


order now

One of Freud’s most
famous theories is the Oedipus complex, which deals with the unconscious wish
of a child to posses the mother and take the father’s place. (Course notes) The beginning of the
Oedipus complex appearing in William and Paul is exemplified in the
relationship between the parents. The boys see that Walter Morel often comes
home drunk after squandering the family’s income. All of this causes the boys
to hate their father and be compassionate and protective towards their poor
mother. Mrs. Morel takes pride in her sons. She wants to see her life’s fulfilment
in them:  “Now she had two sons in the world. She could think of two
places, great centres of industry, and feel that she had put a man into each of
them, that these men would work out what she wanted: they were derived from her
they were of her and their works also would be hers.” (Lawrence , 101) At the beginning William, as the oldest son, is the
mother’s favorite. He does everything he can to please her. After William
dies, Paul takes his place as his mother’s favorite. The relations between
mother and child are special.

Paul’s admiration for
his mother knows no boundaries, her presence is always absorbing. Frequently,
when he sees his mother, “his heart contracted with love.” (Lawrence ,
92)
Everything he does is for her, the flowers he picks as well as the prizes he
wins at school. His mother is his intimate and his close friend, he has no
other intimate. When Morel, the father , is at the hospital after an accident
in the mine, Paul happily plays the role of the husband, “I’m the man in the
house now.” (Lawrence , 88)

When his sister Annie
marries he tries to console his mother saying : “But I shan’t marry, mother. Shall
live with you, and we’ll have a servant.” (Lawrence , 245) If she hesitates then he proceeds to
figure it out. “I’ll give you till seventy-five. There you are, I’m fat and
forty-four. Then I’ll marry a staid body (…) And we’ll have a pretty house,
you and me, and a servant, and it’ll be just all right.” (Lawrence ,
246)
His plans for the future have not changed, at twenty-two he thinks as he
thought at fourteen, like a child that goes on living a fairytale.

In fact, according to
Freud, “the evolution of the mature love instinct begins as soon as the child
has sufficiently developed a sense of the otherness of its surroundings to
single out its mother as the object of its affections. At first this is
entirely instinctive and unconscious and comes as the natural result of the
child’s dependence upon its mother for food, warmth and comfort.” (Bloom , 204) The mother is the overpowering
presence of those earliest days of childhood and the source from which all good
things come.

The novel also deals with Feminism. Feminist
critics of the feminist movement promoted a struggle against the male-dominated
society which mistreats women. The suffragette movement of the early 19th century
made heard the feminist voices of Virginia Woolf and Simone de Beauvoir
who fought against the social degradation of females by the domineering males. “In
The second sex French Simone de Beauvoir focuses on how the
society as a whole creates females.” (Mahbuba ,
web)

Society does not
provide equal rights for men and women. There is a gender unfairness in the
world and Mrs. Morel becomes a victim of the patriarchal society which promotes
the man-centered family. Lawrence also believed in male supremacy. Simone de
Beauvoir terms this attitude “bourgeois conception”. Turning to women as
mothers, Beauvoir examines that women always “takes the title of their
husbands”. (Mahbuba , web). The name of Gertrude Morel appears
only twice in this novel and she is always called Mrs. Morel in rest. She also states
that Lawrence rediscovers this conception that woman should subordinate her
whole existence to that of her man. Her children become somehow tools for
making her dreams come true. She is teaching them to change their social
position. She encourages Paul’s art, his education and social advancement. (Monjur , web)

Clara can be seen at a
first sight as a portrait of the modern early 20th century
woman. She combines a number of significant characteristics: she is intensely
attractive, fiercely independent, considering herself as a woman apart from her
class, and a woman of passion. Hower, the roles of the wife and the
mother have been invested with some power or influence as against the role of
the feminists. “Women like Clara cannot gain a respectable social identity
outside of the institution of marriage. Clara comes across merely as an
instrument, a vehicle for Paul’s passion. She is a caricature of the ‘new,’
liberated woman.” (Portrayal of
Women , web)

In conclusion, Sons and
Lovers is a complex novel which can be analyzed from multiple points of view,
even if  I  analyzed it only through psychoanalytic and
feminist theories.