Discuss The Treatment of Love in “Sons and Lovers”

As presented in the novel, Sons and Lovers revolves around love, two kinds. One is the love of a mother for her son with its crippling effects on the son’s emotional development; the other is the love of the son going towards two women, Clara and Miriam; who represents two conflicting kinds of loving relationship.

The Love Affair between Paul and Miriam in Sons and Lovers

The Paul-Miriam love affair is one of the most consuming themes of the novel; it shapes, reshapes, destroys, rebuilds, and destroys the life of Paul Morel again.

Paul’s entanglement with Miriam is his first venture into the world outside the lukewarm familiar love with which his mother had wrapped him so far. The relationship grows steadily when Paul gets physically involved with Clara Dawes.

Paul’s return to Miriam towards the end of the novel is separated from her again. The love affair ended almost tragically due to several psychological reasons.

Miriam’s Significant Role in Sons and Lovers

Miriam Leivers is one of the essential characters in the novel. If Mrs. Morel plays the real heroine of the novel, Miriam has to be regarded as one of the two subsidiary heroines because she is one of the two women with whom the hero falls in love.

Miriam has a passionate intensity within her which becomes more and more bound with religious fervor and mysticism as she matures. She first meets Paul on his visit to the Willy farm. The growth of intimacy between Paul and Miriam is a slow but steady process.

On the whole, Miriam seems to scorn the male sex, but when she became acquainted with Paul, she found a new specimen of that sex in this young man. She found that this young man could be gentle and sad; he was clever and knew a lot.

Miriam’s Feelings for Paul in Sons and Lovers

Miriam finds that Paul loves nature in the same way she loves it. She almost passionately wants to be beside Paul when he first sees the white rose bush in the moon-lit. It is an entirely mutual experience of the communion of her souls. She identifies with the flowers in a sensual erotic way and pours all her locked-up passion and intensity.

When Miriam realizes that she is beginning to love Paul, she prays that she may love him in the full measure of self-sacrifice of herself she can bring Paul deep happiness. She is entirely unaware of Paul physically and desires only a spiritual communion of his souls.

This ‘purity’ presents an actual development of their relationship. To Miriam, chastity is her sacred duty, and as a result, she does not allow Paul even to kiss her for a long time. Thus, while Paul’s physical love becomes increasingly urgent daily, she cannot respond to the desire.

Lawrence’s Explanation of Man’s Role in Sons and Lovers

In forward to Sons and Lovers, sent to Garnett in 1913, Lawrence put forward a theory about the relation between the sexes. Man is represented as the world’s spokesman and women as the embodiment of the flesh.

Man must go out into the world, but for inspiration and nourishment, he must constantly return to the woman, ‘like bees in and out of the hive.’ If his mother attempts to perform this role instead of a wife, the result is not the renewal of man but destruction.

Lawrence points out here the destructive effect of mother-fixation partially due to this reason.

Miriam’s Spiritual Possession of Paul in Sons and Lovers

Miriam begins to possess Paul spiritually, and this is where the deadlock with Mrs. Morel begins. Mrs. Morel’s antipathy to Miriam is based on her objection to such soul possessiveness:

“She is one of those who will want to suck a man’s soul out till he has none of his left.”

Gertrude Morel, Sons and Lovers.

Mrs. Morel also says about Miriam,

“She will never let him become a man; she never will.”

Gertrude Morel, Sons and Lovers.

Paul’s Hesitation in Engaging with Other Women in Sons and Lovers

Paul’s sincere regard for his mother is a factor that prevents him from establishing a fruitful relationship with other women.

However, the most serious stumbling block in Paul’s love affair with Miriam is Miriam herself. When, in chapter 8, they stay at the cottage together, she surrenders to him as if in sacrifice.

Paul later tells Miriam that their relationship must end, she realizes how much she hates him. She is angry that her sacrifice has been in vain.

Paul’s relationship with Clara Dawes revolves around pure sensuality. Clara is the opposite of Miriam. She wants sensual gratification. For Paul also, this is a physical outlet of his stopped-up emotion.

If Miriam is sentiment, Clara is all body. As both of them do not have both, they both fail.

To Sum up

Miriam and Paul meet at the novel’s end. Miriam feels still united through their communal souls. She is moved with pity for Paul.

For Miriam, it is the bitter-sweet anguish of her self-sacrifice. For Paul, the agony is that knowing their relationship has failed them again.

Each is looking for something; the other cannot. Sons and Lovers ends with the failure of the love relationship entangling Paul, Miriam, and Clara.

Leave a Comment