In his introduction to The Letters of D.H. Lawrence, (Aldous Huxley, 1932) declared that Lawrence was ‘above all a great literary artist…one of the greatest English writers of any time.’ Born in Eastwood near Nottingham, England on the 11th of September, 1885, D. H. Lawrence wrote novels that presented the dehumanizing effect of industrial culture and preached a glorified union with nature along with its corollary, sexual fulfilment. His experience growing up in a coal-mining family provided much of the inspiration for Sons and Lovers, his third novel, also considered his ‘crowning achievement’ (Qamar Naheed, 1998). Written in 1913, it is considered a pioneering work for its realism, vivid characterisation, treatment of sex complications and faultless control over tone and narrative method. Sons and Lovers is referred to as a Künstlerroman (a version of the Bildungsroman), which is a novel charting the growth and development of an artist. The novel contains many autobiographical details, leading Mary Freeman (1955) to define Lawrence’s ‘most pervasive aim’ as the attempt to link experiences in his writing; she declares Sons and Lovers as the starting point from which Lawrence ‘moved towards more complex speculations’. Undoubtedly Lawrence used his own experiences very fully in the novel: his parents’ relationship, attitudes and personalities are mirrored in that of Morel’s. He remarked in a letter, ‘one sheds one’s sickness in books’ and Sons and Lovers is a way of his coming to terms with those formative experiences which made him the man he was (Jenny Weatherburn, 2001). Lawrence was an acute observer of the natural world who took great joy from it (Weatherburn, 2001) and the novel reveals a great preoccupation with nature. One of the important artistic features in Sons and Lovers is the symbolic meanings associated with nature. Lawrence applies the symbolism of nature to reveal Paul Morel’s complicated relationships with the three women in his life – Mrs. Morel, Miriam and Clara. These characters bond deeply in nature and Lawrence uses nature, and specifically flowers throughout the novel to symbolize these deep connections. Nature is used as a central symbol throughout Sons and Lovers and it is intricately linked to Lawrence’s presentation of Paul’s female relationships.
Lawrence’s use of landscapes and nature images in Sons and Lovers directly contributes to the development of Paul’s relationship with his mother, Mrs. Morel. For Mrs. Morel, the garden proves to be a place of poetry, meditation and a means of escape from the ugly reality of her life. At the end of Chapter 1 when Mr. Morel, in a fit of rage and drunkenness, locks Mrs. Morel outside in the gardens to demonstrate his power in the household, the pregnant Mrs. Morel wanders into the garden and succumbs to ‘a kind of swoon’ - ‘her self melted out like scent’ - and the child too melted with her in the mixing-pot of moonlight. Her stillness in the garden where she contemplates the flowers and finds peace in their perfume highly contrasts with the noisy restlessness of her husband – ‘Mrs. Morel gasped slightly in fear. She touched the big, pallid flowers on their petals, then shivered. They seemed to be stretching in the moonlight.’ (SL Page 31.) Here Lawrence uses pathetic fallacy as the garden mirrors her emotions and she seeks refuge and comfort among her flowers. According to Stefania Michelucci, 2002; ‘In this nocturnal episode, the garden also represents a threshold from which she establishes a relationship with the unknown, with forces of nature which intoxicate and disturb at the same time.’ (Page 38) Here the lilies in full bloom are symbolizing Mrs. Morel’s young exuberant life, while the pollen is breeding the new life. She and the embryo immerse and bond in the atmosphere all in a lethargic sleep; from the onset Lawrence uses flowers to reveal Paul’s and Mrs. Morel’s unordinary relationship. Lawrence was aware of Freud's theory and Sons and...
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