Sons and Lovers as Bildungsroman Essay

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Sons and Lovers as Bildungsroman

As a twentieth century novelist, essayist, and poet, David Herbert Lawrence brought the subjects of sex, psychology, and religion to the forefront of literature. One of the most widely read novels of the twentieth century, Sons and Lovers, which Lawrence wrote in 1913, produces a sense of Bildungsroman1, where the novelist re-creates his own personal experiences through the protagonist in (Niven 115). Lawrence uses Paul Morel, the protagonist in Sons and Lovers, for this form of fiction. With his mother of critical importance, Lawrence uses Freud’s Oedipus complex, creating many analyses for critics. Alfred Booth Kuttner states the Oedipus complex as: “the struggle of a man to emancipate himself
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This profound situation puts Paul to the emotional test of Oedipal versus physical love. As Kuttner goes on to state: “Paul’s admiration for his mother know no bounds; her presence is always absorbing. Often at the sight of her, ‘his heart contracts with love’” (278). Paul’s maternal relationship defines the Oedipus complex. Miram pulls Paul away from his mother, while Paul’s mother, Gertrude, sees Miram as a threat to her son. Paul, even though Miram is around, still will not commit totally to her because of the strong ties between mother and son. Paul says to his mother, “I’ll never marry while I’ve got you – I won’t…” (Lawrence 240). Lawrence wrote frequently of Paul’s love belonging to his mother and only his mother (212). Though Miram Leivers could not truly find Paul’s heart, another woman named Clara Dawes provides more stress on Paul’s maternal relationship. Although Paul loved Clara, he still kept his attraction toward his mother. “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 confidant” (Kuttner 278). Clara tried desperately to win Paul over, but her social sophistication was too much for him. Paul tells his mother: “I don’t want to belong to the well-to-do middle class. I like my common people the best. I belong to the common people” (Lawrence 250). Clara shows frustration with Paul because of his maternal

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