D.H.Lawrence Sons and Lovers

2851 Words Jan 2nd, 2011 12 Pages
'In Sons and Lovers, Paul is not really torn between Miriam and Clara but rather between his mother and his father.' Discuss.

Sons and Lovers is considered one of the greatest English novels of the twentieth century. Centred on the lives of an English rural family, the novel explores issues relating to marriage, family, industrialism, class and sexuality. While the first sections of the book focus on the early marriage of Mr and Mrs. Morel, it is their second son Paul who comes to dominate the work. Shy, clever, sensual, and in many ways mirroring D.H.Lawrence himself, Paul is an artist brought into the world as an unwanted burden and by the end of the novel left meaningless and derelict. It is the interim, the life of Paul, that makes
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Paul opts for the “lower desires” in choosing Clara. From the offset, it is clear that their relationship is much more physical. Their raunchy outdoor adventures and visits to the park are in stark contrast to Paul and Miriam’s friendly walks in the wood. Furthermore, the corporeal descriptions and body imagery Lawrence uses in detailing Paul and Clara together reflect the physical nature of their relationship. We are told, “He touched her. His whole body was quivering with the sensation” (p.369) and of his bodily tension he experiences when he is waiting for Monday to arrive so he can hold Clara. The corporeal descriptions of shoulders, hands, ears, hair, and breasts amid kissing stand in contrast to the descriptions we got of Miriam which were mostly limited to her eyes. While their relationship is physical in a way Paul and Miriam’s never was, it too is limited. In possessing the physical connection Paul loses the spiritual one. “His feeling for Mrs.Dawes...was shallow and temporal, compared with his love for herself [Miriam]” (p.337). The two did not have the same intimacy of soul. This is highlighted by the fact that Clara does not have the same interest in his art; she does not understand it according to Paul. Mrs. Morel gives an accurate depiction in saying “She seems straight; you know – not a bit deep, not a bit”. Paul is thus