Nature And Intimacy In Sons And Lovers
Essay, Research Paper
October 13, 1999
“Sons and Lovers”
In D. H. Lawrence’s Son’s and Lovers, Paul’s intimacy with the women in his life is complemented and analogous to his experiences in nature. Throughout the development of the novel, as intimacy is shared, it is only through nature and natural elements that we see this [intimacy] occur. This comparable relationship with nature metaphorically symbolizes the intense feelings Paul has for these women.
With Paul’s mother, Gertrude Morel, we see nature as a complement to their relationship. In Chapter six, Lawrence writes profoundly of the connection with Paul and his mother. As the two spend a day in the country together at the Leivers’, we see the beauty and sensuality of the countryside reflected in their relationship. “Paul and his mother and Mrs. Leivers had tea together. Then they went out into the wood that was flooded with bluebells, while funny forget-me-nots were in the paths. The mother and son were in ecstasy together” (121). Throughout the duration of this visit to the countryside, the beauty of nature entrances mother and son. So much in fact, that they both insinuate that their feelings of happiness can be attributed to this intimate, countryside visit. Upon leaving “his heart was full of happiness till it hurt. His mother had to chatter because she, too, wanted to cry with happiness” (123).
The next woman introduced in Paul’s life is Miriam. Miriam lives on the farm where Paul derives so much satisfaction; so, it is only fitting that he develops a keen interest in her. Regarding their love, with Miriam and Paul, flowers act as a representation of the communion of their souls and the tepid sexual attraction she has toward Paul. On a walk one day, “Miriam went on her knees before one cluster, took a wild-looking daffodil between her hands, turned up its face of gold to her, and bowed down, caressing it with her mouth and cheeks and brow” (208). This action, like their relationship, causes Paul some unnerving. He asks her “why don’t you have a bit more restraint or reserve or something” (208)? This question was of her actions toward the flower, but could also have been representative of his feelings on their relationship as well; according to Paul, all Miriam does is “wheedle the soul out of things” (208). Though said in reference to her seemingly making love to the daffodil, she also wheedles the soul out of Paul.
In acts of love with Miriam and Paul, Lawrence uses the color red as it occurs in nature to intensify the passion between them. It is just as Paul begins to feel impatient about having sex and losing his virginity, that one afternoon, as they gather cherries together, Miriam submits to Paul in the cherry orchard; Paul and Miriam finally consummate their relationship. Before this takes place, while they are gathering cherries, the sunset blazes across the sky: “Gold flamed to scarlet, like pain in its intense brightness. Then the scarlet sank to rose, and rose to crimson, and quickly the passion went out of the sky” (272). Paul’s want, and was symbolized by this passionate sunset. The physical passion he was to experience with Miriam was symbolized by the cherry: “The trees . . . very large and tall, hung thick with scarlet and crimson drops . . . Cherries touched his ears and his neck as he stretched forward- their chill finger-tips sending a flash down his blood” (271).
The next notable woman introduced into Paul’s life is Clara. It does not take long for Paul and Clara to notice the physical attraction between them. As they walk together one afternoon, Paul is in torment of waiting for a physical relationship with Clara; there is an unexplainable fullness about Clara that appeals to the sleeping passion within him. When they are walking, Lawrence uses metaphors of the flowers, “the wet black crimson balls . . . dahlias in the rain” (298). Lawrence also describes the nearby river: flowing “in a body . . . like some subtle, complex creature” (295). These sensual metaphors are reflective of the passion between the two. Without further suspense, Paul and Clara have sexual intercourse together, lying on a bed of damp leaves by the bank of the river. The passion in Paul is awakened in this bed of nature.
After they have sex, when Paul and Clara rise from the wet leaves, the flowers she had fell to the ground. These falling petals represent the release of passion and likely, the loss of innocence between them. They do not feel the least bit of shame or guilt about what they have done. Paul and Laura then go have tea. The lady at the teashop brings Clara some “dahlias in full blow . . . speckled scarlet and white” (298). The red and white flowers remind us of the purity of their relationship, corrupted by passion between them.
In Sons and Lovers, throughout the novel, the development of Paul Morel in his relationships is followed closely by the imagery of nature. His convention is to use passionate descriptions of the, weather, landscape, and flowers especially. Lawrence uses vivid imagery to convey to the reader the intensity of relationships and we see this with Paul, Mrs. Morel, Miriam, and Gertrude.
Lawrence, D. H., Sons and Lovers. New York: Penguin Putnam, 1984.