Critically analyze Paul’s relationship with women

Published: 2021-06-27 16:40:05
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Category: Relationship

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Within D. H. Lawrence’s ‘Sons and Lovers’, Paul has been quite an unusual character. In the beginning of the novel, the reader witnesses William’s and Annie’s relationships with their mother and although William and Mrs. Morel’s bond was odd, it could not compare to Paul’s relationship with his mother. Throughout the first few chapters of the novel, the reader notices, through Mrs. Morel’s narratives in chapters one and two that she did not want to give birth to Paul because of the financial burden he would ultimately have on the poor family and the failing relationship between Mr.
Morel and her. However, after her sudden revelation in the field, she and Paul’s relationship has been the strongest within the household after William’s departure, particularly because of the nature of their relationship; one which was based entirely on Eros love. This relationship was coined by Sigmund Freud as ‘Oedipus Complex’; this meant that the child had a sexual attraction towards his mother and indefinitely wanted to kill his father. Whilst, the want to kill his father may not have exactly been true, he did have a strong resentment and hatred towards his father.
The Oedipus complex is also predicted to mould Paul’s relationships with other women in the future. In later chapters, the reader meets Miriam Leiver, one of Paul’s love interests. Sparks fly instantly but both are too shy to admit their feelings to each other and themselves. Miriam and Paul share many intimate moments and become promising partners but his mother disapproves of their relationship claiming that she is ruining his “ease and naturalness”. Paul admits to his mother that he does not want to marry Miriam and later breaks it to Miriam as well saying that their relationship is merely ‘spiritual’.
The reader interprets Paul’s growing hatred towards Miriam and his break-up afterwards as solely his mother’s doing. Since Paul lives to make his mother proud, as suggested when he gets a job and goes to the interview, her disapproval of the relationship hindered his affection to Miriam and actually acted as a catalyst towards the relationship’s end. Also, in chapter 11, as his urges increase rapidly he deems that the failed relationship with Miriam is solely due to the air that surrounds her; one which he describes as an “eternal maidenhood”.
Clara Dawes reveals herself soon after, a woman who has separated from her husband. She and Paul begin a purely physical relationship. However, this relationship fails as well, as Clara still has feelings towards her husband and acknowledges Paul as only a friend. Essentially Paul’s relationship with the girls is a back and forth struggle. The only relationship that seems to be successful is the relationship Paul has with his mother. Although Paul’s indecisiveness with the ladies and his sexual struggles distances his relationship with his mother, he still remains the closest with her.
With her, he condemns his relationships with the two girls. Even in her death, Paul stays by her side and looks at her corpse with longing. Thus, the relationship with both Miriam and Clara was bound to fail due to Paul’s complex to his mother. He and his mother’s bond set the tone for all other relationships as he always looked to his mother as the sole ‘voice of reason’ and her approval was a must. Without him knowing it, he had raised his mother to a level of perfection which no one else could attain.

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