David Herbert Lawrence Essay Research Paper As

David Herbert Lawrence Essay, Research Paper

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 from his maternal allegiance and to transfer his affections

to a woman who stands outside the family circle? (277). Paul?s compromising

situations with Miram Leivers and Clara Dawes, as well as the death of his

mother, display the Oedipus complex throughout Sons and Lovers. At an adolescent

age, Paul?s oedipal love towards his mother is compromised by a young lady

named Miram Leivers. 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 devotion. Again Lawrence displays the Oedipus complex through Paul

to his mother, ?And I shall never meet the right woman as long as you live?

(341). Paul?s Oedipal love would be tested once more by him dealing with the

death of his mother. Paul, though, was tough enough in handling this dilemma.

R.P. Draper recognizes the loss of Paul?s mother as: Their special, private,

intimate grief over the impossible dream, and the magnificence of the woman, and

the devotional quality of Paul?s love, render the deathbed scenes poignant and

innocent (292). The verification of Kuttner?s statement is seen as Lawrence

has Paul react to her death in this manner: ?my love ? my love ? oh, my

love! My love ? oh, my love!? (384). Lawrence also writes of Paul?s

continuing love for his mother: ?Looking at her, he felt he could never, never

let her go. No!? (385). Kuttner Implies: ?But death has not freed Paul from

his mother. It has completed his allegiance to her. For death has merely removed

the last earthly obstacle to their ideal union? (280). The love that Paul

feels towards his mother would never die. He loves her just as much when she

died as he did when she was still alive. Paul continues life having a maternal

devotion that no other woman would ever be able to fill. Throughout the novel,

Paul is seen as one who lives for his mother. Mark Spilka explains: ?For if

Paul has failed in his three loves, he has drawn from them the necessary

strength to live? (293). Sons and Lovers was written with Lawrence almost

defining the Oedipus complex through Paul. With this in mind, Kuttner gives this

insight about the novel: Sons and Lovers possesses this double quality to a high

degree. It ranks high, very high as a piece of literature and at the same time

embodies a theory which it illustrates and exemplifies with a completeness that

is nothing less than astonishing (277). Psychologists of today still accept the

Oedipus complex as a viable explanation for the love and fascination that male

children display towards their mothers. Lawrence successfully created an

educational novel as well as an easily readable and interesting novel. Literary

critics tend to speculate that Sons and Lovers was written by Lawrence as

somewhat of an autobiography centering Paul?s life around his own. Whether or

not this is true will never be determined, though it will continue to remain a

favorite topic for critical analysis for years to come.

Draper, R.P. ?D.H. Lawrence on Mother Love.? Essays in Criticism 8

(1958): 285-289. Rpt. In TCLC. Ed. Dennis Poupard. Vol. 16. Detroit: Gale, 1985.

293-294. :Kuttner, Aldred Booth. ?Sons and Lovers?: A Freudian

Appreciation.? The Psychoanalytic Review. 3 (1916): 295-317. Rpt. In TCLC, Ed.

Dennis Poupard. Vol. 16. Detroit: Gale, 1985. 277-282. :Lawrence, D.H. Sons and

Lovers. New York: Barnes & Noble, 1996. :Niven, Alastair. ?D.H.

Lawrence.? British Writers. Vol. 7. 1984. 87-126. :Spilka, Mark. The Love

Ethic of D.H. Lawrence. (1955): 244. Rpt. In TCLC. Ed. Dennis Poupard. Vol. 16.

Detroit: Gale, 1985.


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