Bondage and Escape in Sons & Lovers

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A major theme in "Sons & Lovers" is bondage and escape. Every major character is held hostage by another character or by their environment. Her husband, her family and her anger at the family's social status hold Mrs. Morel hostage. She has no friends to be seen or money of her own to use. Her escape from her bondage is her death. She was unhappy her whole life and lived though another human as a source of happiness. She essentially lived her life through William and, after his death, through Paul, which in a twist of irony, by doing so she is essentially keeping them in bondage. She wants William to move to town to get a good job and a good wife to help up their social status. When he does move and bring home a woman, she thinks she has finally arrived, only to be pushed back down with his death. William, who found a good upper class woman with Lily, brings her back to his family's home. He loves Lily, until he sees her behavior to his sister; Lily treats Annie like a servant. Although his mother likes Lily, he cannot stay with her and soon leaves her and then falls ill and dies. William's death is his great escape from the bonds of his mother.

When William dies Paul replaces him as Mrs. Morel's dummy; Paul leads his life as his mother wants him to, she keeps him in check, approves who he dates and even goes with him and speaks for him on his first job interview. The only thing redeeming Paul in this is that he knows that he is being tied down by his mother and is fighting a silent fight against her for his whole life. Although Mrs. Morel doesn't like Miriam, he keeps his relationship with her. Although Mrs. Morel doesn't want Paul to stay out late, on most occasions he breaks this rule also. The only thing that ever releases Paul from Mrs. Morel's grasp is her death.

Mr. Morel's captivity is the most literal. He is held captive by the mine; every day he must work in the mine and the harder and longer he works, the more money he makes. He is...
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