Gertrude Morel, a mother whose possessive love for her sons hinders their ability to establish fulfilling relationships with other women, and her detest of her husband closes him out of their lives. Gertrude can not bear to see her children live the life that her husband Walter does so she makes sure that they detest him, especially William and Paul. Mrs Morel did ruin three lives in this novel, Walter's, William's, and Paul's.
Walter was a simple miner with simple needs and no motivation or want to advance, when he and Gertrude first met he had thick flowing black hair and a full beard and he also laughed a lot suggesting a happy, relaxed figure. He also portrayed himself as bold and a senior in the mines making a good stable wage, owning his own house and everything in it as well. Gertrude finds her self strangely attracted, despite being described as “opposite” to her new found love. They rush into marriage but the lust that they had soon fades as the lies that were told are uncovered. Gertrude starts to despise the man she married because he lied to her and goes and spends the money he makes on alcohol instead of on his family. When William is born Gertrude smothers him in love and tries her hardest to keep him away from her husband which makes Walter jealous and angry with her that he can not have the same connection with the child that she does. Gertrude does this with all the children that she and Walter have.
The eldest boys are so enveloped by their mother that they can not hold a stable relationship when they grow older because their mother wants to keep them for herself, “..William and Paul Morel are unable to love when they come to manhood, because their dominant mother holds them back, so that a split occurs between body and soul – their sweethearts getting the former; their mother getting the latter; while the boys themselves are shattered; inwardly in the course of the struggle.” (Spilka, 51)