Analysis of Walter Morel’s Character As Depicted in “Sons and Lovers”


In the novel Sons and Lovers by D. H Lawrence, Walter Morel the Miner belongs to that class of ordinary people devoid of intellectual content, full of physical life, closely in touch with the earth, and rejoice in the life of nature.

In his simplicity and humble acceptance of life, Morel is spiritually akin to the rustics of Hardy. Though the disease of the flesh has not touched him, he is open and spontaneous in his responses to life, close to the primitive in his uninhibited delight: singing, dancing, and drinking.

Morel’s tragedy is that he has married a woman of a middle-class family who also loves ideas and looks down upon his instinctive, physical life.

Walter Morel’s Presence And Personality Make Life Joyful

Walter Morel had been a vital man of action, sensuous, non-intellectual, and living for the moment in his youth. He possessed a fascinating personality that cast a spell on Gertrude Morel when she met him at a Christmas party.

Morel has a sturdy physique, rosy cheeks, shiny black mustache, and tumbling hair. His movements are full of animation betoken his zest for life. One meeting with him gives the impression that there is nothing wrong with life, no complexity, and that one has only to turn to life to feel its manifold joys.

Therefore, when Gertrude sees this man at the Christmas party, she is at once aware that he is a different kind of person, a sort of person she has never known before.

Morel’s Marriage with Gertrude Reveals The True Condition

Walter Morel’s marriage with Gertrude had been the unfortunate result of the moment’s romantic heat. Their natures are poles apart.

Hence they have never been on good terms with each other. It is indeed a cruel stroke of luck that Morel marries a woman so much his opposite and who will deny his personality and way of life.

Morel hides his actual condition from his wife. He manages to get furniture and other things on credit and pays rent for the house. However, one day, Mrs. Morel discovers the unpaid bills and realizes that their house does not belong to Morel.

This minor incident shakes her faith in him. Their romantic attraction for each other begins to melt away.

Morel’s Distance from His Family Due to Gertrude’s Cold Attitude

Mrs. Morel’s unsympathetic attitude towards Mr. Morel has been responsible to a great extent for his alienation from the rest of the family. He has acted irresponsibly, but his offense is not so great as to cool Mrs. Morel’s tender feelings for him forever.

Although we see the story entirely from Mrs. Morel’s point of view, it seems that his wife is harshly treating Walter Morel. There is some sympathy for him, but Lawrence is biased in favor of Mrs. Morel. From then on, Mrs. Morel is generally seen in a bad light, although there are moments when the old cheerful moments emerge.

Gertrude Fails to Reform Morel And His Lifestyle

Chaucer’s Art of Characterization...
Chaucer’s Art of Characterization | The Prologue to the Canterbury Tales

Morel resents his wife’s attempt to reform him, for he loves and likes this sort of life and sees nothing vital in an intellectually oriented approach to life. And trying to reform him, his life destroys him.

Morel’s manners become increasingly gross, and he meets his wife’s sarcasm with offensive vulgarity. When Gertrude discusses religion and philosophy with the minister, apparently to slight the miner who cannot participate in their highly intellectual discussions, he gives one of the ugliest exhibitions of his vulgarity.

Morel invites the minister to look at his dirty hands and asks him to examine his singlet smelling of sweat. The miner is trying to do this by exhibiting his vulgarity to make his wife realize that he works hard all day to earn his bread. Moreover, it does not discuss religion and philosophy and thinks one is superior for discussing.

Morel’s Rarely Kind Attitude toward His Children

Walter Morel is not altogether an unkind father. He is kind and tender towards his children when he is in a good mood, but such occasions are rare. They treat him as a person to be feared and despised rather than loved.

Walter Morel feels that he is being wronged, but he is responsible for the miserable situation he finds himself in. But Mrs. Morel is no less responsible. Her too much occupation with her children makes Walter jealous.

Walter Morel may not seem to be a good husband and father, however, he is not completely devoid of native goodness. He may be crude and unrefined in his manners, but he is essentially noble at heart.

Morel’s Repentance After Hurting Gertrude

Morel’s repentance after he has shut his wife out on moonlight or when he has hurt her by the drawer he has flung is quite genuine. He has a genuine love for his children, though they never respond to his feelings, as being under the influence of their mother.

Long after William’s death, he finds it unbearable to pass by the cemetery in which he is buried or by the office where he worked.

To Conclude

Towards the end of the novel, Morel is seen as a broken, sad person, virtually effaced and entirely ignored by his family. Nobody loves him. He no longer rules the house.

After the funeral, Morel weeps before the relatives of Mrs. Morel, but one is doubtful of the sincerity of his grief.

He proclaims without the slightest hesitation that he has always tried everything for her, that she had been such a good wife and that he could never find any fault with her. It is here that Morel loses our sympathy.

A H M Ohidujjaman

I'm the Founder of Hamandista Academy. I live in Dhaka, Bangladesh. I studied English Literature and ELT. Now, I'm working as a Lecturer of English at a Dhaka-based Private University.

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