Sons and Lovers: A Psychoanalytic Criticism
Psychoanalysis is a psychological approach that focuses on the concepts of Sigmund Freud and helps us to understand human behavior. D.H. Lawrence’s Sons and Lovers (1913) is a text that cries out for a psychoanalytic interpretation.One of Freud’s most famous theories is the Oedipus complex, which deals with a child’s emerging sexuality. Freud used the story of Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex to help illustrate his theory. In the story, Oedipus unwittingly kills his father and marries his mother. According to Freud, all male children form an erotic attachment to their mother and are jealous of the relationship the father has with the mother. The male child fears he will be castrated by the father so he represses the sexual desire for the mother and waits for his own sexual experience. However, if the boy does not fulfill these steps, then he will carry the oedipal complex with him into adulthood (Dobie 52-53). As a result, having this complex makes it very difficult to form adult relationships with others. In other words, if the child never grows out of this type of behavior, he will be dysfunctional in adulthood.
The Oedipus complex theory attracted attention in 1910 when psychoanalyst Ernest Jones published Hamlet and Oedipus. Freud had already applied his theory to literature, but this was the first time the Oedipus complex had been emphasized in a major literary work such as Hamlet. The character of Hamlet shows signs of having a repressed Oedipus complex in the relationship he has with his mother (Guerin 161-162). In Sons and Lovers, Gertrude Morel has a dysfunctional relationship with her two sons, William and Paul. Therefore, the text is conducive to this type of analysis because the Oedipus complex and other psychoanalytic concepts are displayed so vividly in their relationships.
The beginning of the Oedipus complex appearing in William and Paul is exemplified in the relationship between the parents. The boys...
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