Subscribe for ad free access & additional features for teachers. Authors: 267, Books: 3,607, Poems & Short Stories: 4,435, Forum Members: 71,154, Forum Posts: 1,238,602, Quizzes: 344

Sons and Lovers



Sons and Lovers was the first modern portrayal of a phenomenon that later, thanks to Freud, became easily recognizable as the Oedipus complex. Never was a son more indentured to his mother's love and full of hatred for his father than Paul Morel, D.H. Lawrence's young protagonist. Never, that is, except perhaps Lawrence himself. In his 1913 novel he grappled with the discordant loves that haunted him all his life--for his spiritual childhood sweetheart, here called Miriam, and for his mother, whom he transformed into Mrs. Morel. It is, by Lawrence's own account, a book aimed at depicting this woman's grasp: "as her sons grow up she selects them as lovers--first the eldest, then the second. These sons are urged into life by their reciprocal love of their mother--urged on and on. But when they come to manhood, they can't love, because their mother is the strongest power in their lives."

Of course, Mrs. Morel takes neither of her two elder sons (the first of whom dies early, which further intensifies her grip on Paul) as a literal lover, but nonetheless her psychological snare is immense. She loathes Paul's Miriam from the start, understanding that the girl's deep love of her son will oust her: "She's not like an ordinary woman, who can leave me my share in him. She wants to absorb him." Meanwhile, Paul plays his part with equal fervor, incapable of committing himself in either direction: "Why did his mother sit at home and suffer?... And why did he hate Miriam, and feel so cruel towards her, at the thought of his mother. If Miriam caused his mother suffering, then he hated her--and he easily hated her." Soon thereafter he even confesses to his mother: "I really don't love her. I talk to her, but I want to come home to you."

The result of all this is that Paul throws Miriam over for a married suffragette, Clara Dawes, who fulfills the sexual component of his ascent to manhood but leaves him, as ever, without a complete relationship to challenge his love for his mother. As Paul voyages from the working-class mining world to the spheres of commerce and art (he has fair success as a painter), he accepts that his own achievements must be equally his mother's. "There was so much to come out of him. Life for her was rich with promise. She was to see herself fulfilled... All his work was hers."

The cycles of Paul's relationships with these three women are terrifying at times, and Lawrence does nothing to dim their intensity. Nor does he shirk in his vivid, sensuous descriptions of the landscape that offers up its blossoms and beasts and "shimmeriness" to Paul's sensitive spirit. Sons and Lovers lays fully bare the souls of men and earth. Few books tell such whole, complicated truths about the permutations of love as resolutely without resolution. It's nothing short of searing to be brushed by humanity in this manner.

Fan of this book? Help us introduce it to others by writing a better introduction for it. It's quick and easy, click here.

Recent Forum Posts on Sons and Lovers

Wolf Hall

i have recently finished reading Hilary Mantel's 'Wolf Hall' & i really liked it! i would love to discuss about it, so please send me msgs here:)


I tried so hard to enjoy this novel. I am about 300 pages in and I am fed up. The themes of Lawrence's book are just not expansive enough to fill up the EXPANSIVE novel he's written. I can't seem to sympathize with his soap-opera characters and Paul, though we've watched him grown up, doesn't seem developed enough. Ugh, I guess you can't like all the classics.

sons and lovers

what are the factors that kept the Morel family together ispite of their differences

Who has your sympathy?

Mrs Morel and Paul are the major characters in 'Sons and Lovers'. Yet Mrs Morel is even less likable than her son Paul. Objectionable is the smothering of her sons, her sustained vendetta against Miriam, and her pretentious bias in alienating her husband from both his sons. She soon drives Morel to drink and dissipation. Clara's treatment of her husband is little better. Mrs Morel death is a blessing in more ways than one. At the end of the book, we have as much sympathy for the drunkards, Baxter Dawes and Morel, as for anyone. But perhaps that's true to life.

Paulís strange attraction to Baxter Dawe

Baxter Dawes is a broken man: sick, poor, abandoned by his wife, jobless, and accepting charity even from Paul, his adversary. Yet, Paul regularly visits the sick man and later invites Clara along to spend a day at a cottage with Baxter and himself. Can we understand Paul's behaviour? Paulís relationship with Miriam is a failure, ostensibly through sexual incompatibility, but more likely through Paulís reluctance to commit wholeheartedly to a woman other than his mother. The novel is cryptic regarding the failure of Baxterís relationship with Clara. Both Paul and Clara seem unable to sustain an intimate relationship. The parallels are intriguing. Just as Paul behaves harshly and unfairly to Miriam, Clara has good reason to be ashamed of her behaviour towards Baxter, who seems as fully committed and faithful to Clara as Miriam is to Paul. Suffering an indefinable angst, Clara rejects Baxter as Paul does Miriam. I suspect Paul is attracted to Baxter, like a moth to flame, owing to the perspective that Paul gains on his teetering relationship with Miriam. Paul pities and is fascinated by Baxter, whose predicament has much in common with Miriamís. In finding resolution (if only temporary) for Baxterís marriage, Paul happily unloads Clara but, sadly, sheds little light on his own troubled relationships...particularly that with his departed mother. Paul leaves us with a note of sour optimism.

Mariam vs. Clara

I could not help but to instantly like Mariam upon first meeting her. There was something endearing about her, and genuine, as well as a goodness and an honest that gave her charm and made my heart go out to her, made me root for her. I believe she held a very deep love for Paul and that he was meant for her they had a deep and soulful connection, and I think it was the deepness of it, and perhaps the power of it, which scared him and caused him to start to rile against her. He had a fear of commitment so he turned from her for the sake of something lesser then what they share, that was not as daunting to him. Clara I could not help but a sort of instinctual dislike of, to me she is a fraud and that is the thing of which most irritated me about her, is that she is not true to herself, she tried to pass herself in the guise of a strong woman, but as her char develops more, it seems she is in fact really rather weak and only pretending to be something she is not. For all her talk and pomp, she did not take very long to submit to Paul despite her previous railing against men. I also think it is quite cruel the way Paul's family treated Mariam while they took Clara in with warm embrace, though I think this has a lot to do with the fact that Mrs. Morel does not see Clara as a threat, she knows that Paul's relationship with Clara is fickle, based purely upon the physical, so while Clara can have his body, she will still keep her sons soul and heart to herself, and this is why she was set against Mariam, because Mariam's relationship with Paul was more true and so she would take his soul and heart fully, and Mrs. Morel feared greatly to have to let her son go, so she set to drive Mraiam off, and would settle to see him in a shallow relationship so she can still keep him to herself. Considering the way Clara so no problem and was so quick to move in on Paul I think it was quite cruel and petty of her, particularly being a woman whom is supposed to be pro suffrage and woman's rights, to have gossiped in such a way against Maraim behind her back to Mrs. Morel, because she thinks that now that Paul is with her, he ought to cast Maraim off completely despite her own flirtations with him while he was still involved with Mariam, and I think Paul ought to have spoken up in defense of Maraim when he had caught them in their act.


Paul seems to be in contradiction of himself and is always trying to find some excuse, or perhaps he does not yet know what he truly wants. But he is constantly going back and forth between first proclaiming his wish to be married, and then doing a complete 360 and suddenly railing about how he could never be wed and does not wish to be tied down to one woman, and will never marry. He has used this against both Mariam and Clara. First when he was with Mariam he would try and tell her that they could not continue on together because he wished to marry, but they could not marry if they could not be physical with each other. So when Maraim submitted to him and they grew closer, he drew away from her and began to say suddenly he could not be with her because he felt to tied down with her and could not marry and would never marry. So he ended up with Clara because she was safe, because she is already married but separated from her husband, but then as they began to grow closer together, he begins turning the tables around again, and tells her that he wants to marry, but she does not want to marry him because she refuses to divorce from her husband. It seems that he is stuck between both his fear of commitment, as well as his not wanting to be truly alone. Whenever he begins to get close to a woman, or when things begin to become serious, he suddenly tries to find some excuse and gets restless and upset within the relationship and draws away, but at the same time, he can never bring himself to just completely break it off. So he tries to keep it going as long as he can while still keeping at bay from him.


Paul want to his father's death outside not in the mine?What can be his reason?

OK, what's wrong with Miriam?

i really need to know why would anyone take that much of humiliation from anyone especially sb like Paul ?

A perfect book 4 a movie

When i was readin dis buk, i jus strtd lovin my mom n ma family more than wht i did. as i liv in hostel, i go to my home very rarely. but this buk had such a gr8 influence dat i visited my parents da next sundy. I just couldnt hold my tears when Mrs. Morrel fell ill. Lawrence has described the emotions n relationships very well n a drama was runnin in my mind as i read dat buk. i feel a movie on dis book wil b a very gud one.

Post a New Comment/Question on Sons and Lovers

Quizzes on D.H. Lawrence
Related links for D.H. Lawrence

Here is where you find links to related content on this site or other sites, possibly including full books or essays about D.H. Lawrence written by other authors featured on this site.

Sorry, no links available.

D.H. Lawrence

Sorry, no summary available yet.