Women in Sons and Lovers

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Paulina Bouzas

Paulina studied Creative Writing and Literature in Mexico City and holds an M.A. in Linguistics from the University of Eastern Finland.

This lesson focus on the women in D.H. Lawrence's famous novel, Sons and Lovers. It takes a closer look at Mrs Morel, Miriam Leivers and Clara Dawes and how they impact Paul Morel's life. Updated: 11/16/2021

Sons and Lovers

It's no secret that the relationship between a mother and her son can be very strong. However, in D.H. Lawrence's novel, Sons and Lovers, this bond is a bit more complicated. The novel, which was first published in 1913 follows the story of Paul Morel as he comes into adulthood. Lawrence explores the bond between Paul and his mother and the women he falls in love with.

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  • 0:04 Sons and Lovers
  • 0:28 Mrs. Morel
  • 1:30 Miriam Leivers
  • 2:34 Clara Dawes
  • 3:27 Lesson Summary
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Mrs. Morel

Gertrude Morel is the protagonist in the first part of the novel. She is a stubborn, possessive woman who has a hard time letting go of her sons. Trapped in an unhappy marriage to Walter, all her attention is centered on her children, William and Paul. However, soon after William's death, Mrs. Morel becomes completely devoted to Paul. Without knowing, Paul comes to be the husband and man of the house.

As their bond grows, Gertrude's love for Paul becomes unhealthy, to the point where she's unable to let him live his own life. She's the perfect example of a smothering woman. Unsurprisingly, she disapproves of the women in Paul's life, particularly Miriam.

Gertrude clings not only to Paul, but even to her life. After becoming ill, it takes her a long time to finally let go. Her illness has a big impact on Paul, as he begins to realize that he won't have his mom forever. After Gertrude finally dies, Paul is left feeling hopeless and devastated.

Miriam Leivers

Miriam is Paul's first love. She is an innocent girl who lives at Willey Farm but dreams of having a better life away from the farm. Although Miriam has big ideas, she is still a farm girl; however, she doesn't get along with her family as they don't understand her. She is very religious and, like Mrs Morel, is possessive of Paul. ''You love me so much, you want to put me in your pocket. And I should die there smothered,'' Paul tells her.

Through Paul's eyes, Miriam innocence is exasperating: ''You are a nun,'' he tells her at one point. She is too shy to let her relationship with Paul go to the next level, and when she finally agrees to have sex with him, she sees it as a sacrifice. Miriam's logic is that if she's willing to sacrifice herself to Paul, then she'll have him forever.

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