Sons and Lovers

by

D. H. Lawrence

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Clara Dawes Character Analysis

Clara Dawes is the wife of Baxter Dawes, the daughter of Mrs. Radford, and Paul Morel’s lover. Clara is estranged from her husband Baxter, whom she married young and found that she could not get on with. She is a friend of Miriam (who introduces her to Paul) and she lives with her mother. Clara is a suffragette and is bitter and resentful about the way her marriage has worked out. Paul believes that she is a “man hater” but, as he gets to know her, feels that she is deeply sensuous and “needs a man” to feel loved and that her single life makes her depressed. Clara treats Paul’s claims contemptuously and insists that Baxter was cruel to her and that this is the reason she left him. Paul and Clara have an extremely passionate and physical relationship, although they do not have much in common intellectually. Clara is a strong, active woman, but is very reserved and finds it hard to fit in with the factory girls when Paul gets her a job at Jordan’s. She gets on well with Mrs. Morel, however, who prefers down to earth Clara to the saintly Miriam. She gains confidence through her affair with Paul, but will not divorce her husband, whom she still feels sorry for. Clara is independent and single minded because she is willing to live separately from her husband despite the social disapproval this causes. By the end of the novel, Clara is sick of Paul’s dithering between her and Miriam and feels that he is unmanly because he has played with her and failed to commit to their relationship. She gets her pride back after her failed marriage and, in her new confident, independent state, is able to reconcile with Baxter, who has been humbled and who now intends to treat her with respect.

Clara Dawes Quotes in Sons and Lovers

The Sons and Lovers quotes below are all either spoken by Clara Dawes or refer to Clara Dawes. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Family, Psychology, and the Oedipus Complex Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Penguin edition of Sons and Lovers published in 2006.
Chapter 12 Quotes

His mother looked at him. He had turned to her. She thought what a man he seemed, in his dark, well-made clothes. He was pale and detached-looking, it would be hard for any woman to keep him. Her heart glowed. Then she was sorry for Clara.

Page Number: 365
Explanation and Analysis:
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Clara Dawes Character Timeline in Sons and Lovers

The timeline below shows where the character Clara Dawes appears in Sons and Lovers. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 8
Christianity, Propriety, and Physicality Theme Icon
Women’s Work and Women’s Rights Theme Icon
...is walking up to the exhibition, Paul runs into Miriam and a friend of hers, Clara Dawes. Miriam introduces them and Paul thinks Clara is attractive despite her shabby dress and... (full context)
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...Pappleworth defended him. Ever since then, Dawes has hated Paul and Paul equally despises him. Clara has left Baxter and gone to live with her mother. Meanwhile Baxter is now seeing... (full context)
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When Paul goes to see Miriam next, he asks her about Clara. He wonders why Clara married Baxter Dawes if she was only going to leave him,... (full context)
Chapter 9
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...he yearns for something else. She has noticed that he becomes agitated when she mentions Clara Dawes and so, to allow Paul to “test himself,” she invites him to come to... (full context)
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Paul is very courteous to Clara – much to Miriam’s chagrin – and asks her if she has been to “Margaret... (full context)
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Eventually, tiring of Clara’s contempt, Paul goes out to meet Edgar, who is at work on the farm. Edgar... (full context)
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Paul complains that men are paid more because they support families and he complains that Clara sounds like a suffragette. He resents being generalized about and thinks that men are blamed... (full context)
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After dinner, Miriam, Paul, and Clara go for a walk together. Looking around the beautiful evening in the country, Paul talks... (full context)
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...an apple for the stallion Limb rides and kisses and speaks tenderly to the horse. Clara and Miriam admire the horse, too, and Clara suggests darkly that the horse is likely... (full context)
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...that she is going mad with loneliness because she lives in such a secluded spot. Clara sarcastically implies that she must “need a man” and walks ahead. Paul wonders what is... (full context)
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...field full of flowers and Paul tries to offer some that he has picked to Clara. Clara refuses and says that she does not want to be given dead things; the... (full context)
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Over tea, Paul tells Mrs. Morel about Clara Dawes. He explains that Clara lives with her mother, who is a lace maker, and... (full context)
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...Paul is the only child left at home and he remains torn between Miriam and Clara, whom he likes for different reasons. One evening, on one of his walks with Miriam,... (full context)
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...it. Their relationship grinds to a halt and Paul turns all his physical attraction on Clara Dawes. Miriam, however, remains convinced that, in his soul, Paul belongs with her. (full context)
Chapter 10
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...classes. She worries that Paul seems snobbish and is concerned that he still hankers after Clara, who is still married to Baxter Dawes. (full context)
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...group of young people interested in politics and knows several suffragettes through his acquaintance with Clara. One day, he is asked to deliver a message to her by one of these... (full context)
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...house is small and dingy, and Paul is invited in and offered a drink by Clara’s mother, Mrs. Radford, a formidable but generous woman. Clara blushes when Paul is shown in... (full context)
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Paul asks if making lace is hard work and Clara answers that all women’s work is hard. Mrs. Radford shushes her daughter and says that... (full context)
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Paul realizes that Clara is extremely miserable living with her mother. Although he has found her very proud, he... (full context)
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Clara gets her job back at the factory. She is naturally reserved, and the other girls... (full context)
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Clara has gained an education through her association with the women’s movement and Paul sometimes finds... (full context)
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At work, Paul teases and abuses Clara. When he sees her wearing a flower, he reminds her about her rule not to... (full context)
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Later that day, he buys more chocolates and offers some to Clara. She timidly accepts but is generally confused by his behavior. The other girls love Paul... (full context)
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At dinner time, Paul is surprised to find that Clara has not gone home to eat as she usually does, and he invites her to... (full context)
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Clara complains bitterly that the town is “unnatural” and that unnatural things are always ugly and... (full context)
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Paul asks Clara what is bothering her and Clara replies that she feels left out by the other... (full context)
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The same week, Clara sends Paul a book of poetry as a birthday present. After this, the pair become... (full context)
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Paul feels slightly lost during this conversation and asks Clara if she ever let Baxter get close to her or if she really gave their... (full context)
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...convinced that Paul will return to her. She feels that he will grow tired of Clara and that she has a stronger connection with him. Clara does not seem to be... (full context)
Chapter 11
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...he never gets back his strong feelings for her. He has not seen much of Clara all summer, since he has been with Miriam, but sometimes, at work, he draws her... (full context)
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...accepts that he is serious and believes that he is, unconsciously, under the influence of Clara. She complains that this has been their whole relationship, him fighting against her, and Paul... (full context)
Chapter 12
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As soon as he has broken up with Miriam, Paul begins to spend time with Clara. He flirts with her at work and then, finally, kisses her in the street one... (full context)
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When Monday finally arrives, Paul rushes down to the spiral room to see Clara and confirm their date. She tells him she will probably meet him that afternoon. Paul... (full context)
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When Clara arrives, Paul buys her a red flower to wear in her coat. They catch a... (full context)
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As they trudge along under the soggy canopy of trees, Clara asks Paul if he ever wants to get married. He says no, and she asks... (full context)
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Paul asks Clara if she will climb down to the water’s edge with him and she agrees. They... (full context)
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...way back up the path because of the mud and the swollen river. Paul leads Clara to a secluded patch in the trees where the pair lie down together. When Clara... (full context)
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...back up the hillside to rejoin the path. Paul stoops in the road and cleans Clara’s boots of mud. They stop for tea in a cottage and the old lady who... (full context)
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That night, Paul tells Mrs. Morel about his walk with Clara. Mrs. Morel rebukes him and says that he should have thought of Clara before he... (full context)
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...and often walks home with her. That weekend, he tells her about his walk with Clara and Miriam berates him because she says that he forfeits Clara’s reputation. Paul is blasé... (full context)
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Paul is certain, though, that Clara and Baxter Dawes had “real passion.” Miriam asks if it was like his mother and... (full context)
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Paul tells Miriam that Clara is coming to meet his mother on Sunday and Miriam feels bitter about this because... (full context)
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Clara does arrive on the train and is just as apprehensive and excited as Paul. They... (full context)
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After tea, Clara helps Mrs. Morel wash up. Paul wanders into the garden and Clara feels confined and... (full context)
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...will see them there. She takes the book and leaves, a little bitter to see Clara accepted into the family where she has not been. (full context)
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...and then heads back to the house. As he enters, he hears Mrs. Morel and Clara discussing Miriam. They both agree that they dislike her “blood hound quality” and that it... (full context)
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...the same time, however, he feels glad that she will see him walk away with Clara, who is very good looking. On the way home, Clara asks if Paul will stay... (full context)
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Clara asks about the time – she wants to catch her train – and Paul reluctantly... (full context)
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...this state and thinks he has been drinking. He asks his mother if she likes Clara and Mrs. Morel says that she does, but that she knows Paul will grow bored... (full context)
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Not long after, Paul invites Clara to the theatre. He buys tickets and arranges to wear a suit for the performance.... (full context)
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Paul misses his train and plans to walk home, but Clara insists that he should come and stay at hers and that her mother won’t mind.... (full context)
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Clara eats quietly, embarrassed by her mother, but Paul spars with Mrs. Radford and gradually placates... (full context)
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...and Paul gives in, hiding his hatred of the woman. Paul is sent upstairs to Clara’s room; Clara will share with her mother. He finds a pair of Clara’s stockings in... (full context)
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...so that Mrs. Radford will not come down, then he creeps into the living room. Clara is crouched before the fire, naked. Paul approaches her and finds that she looks ashamed.... (full context)
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...in bed. Although the older woman teases him, he can tell that she likes him. Clara seems calm and pleased over breakfast and Paul is happy. He tells them that he... (full context)
Chapter 13
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Not long after his night out with Clara, Paul goes to the “Punch Bowl” for a drink and runs into Baxter Dawes, Clara’s... (full context)
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...a circle where the love she has for him flows back into herself. He and Clara continue to get on well, but Clara is upset when she hears about his feud... (full context)
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Paul suggests that Baxter could have been a good man. Clara thinks that Paul blames her for the way Baxter has turned out and insists that... (full context)
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...come next. He has had to tell the magistrate about his and Baxter’s fight over Clara, and Clara is furious that she has been publicly dragged into the dispute. (full context)
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Although he and Clara still get on, Paul feels a sense of coldness or indifference for her creep in.... (full context)
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Paul and Clara often spend the evenings together and then they are like lovers and get on very... (full context)
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Although Clara is hurt by his words, she can tell he is suffering. Paul begs her not... (full context)
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The next morning, Clara feels desperately in love with Paul and knows she wants something “permanent.” Paul, however, wakes... (full context)
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The next spring, Paul and Clara rent a cottage at the seaside and stay there together for some time. They often... (full context)
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That afternoon, Clara and her mother go into town and Paul goes out to draw. Clara can sense... (full context)
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Pressed by him, Clara admits that she does not want to divorce Baxter because she feels like he “belongs... (full context)
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Overall, though, Clara feels fulfilled by the relationship. She feels satisfied with the passion between her and Paul... (full context)
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One night, when they are walking through the fields near Clara’s home (she and her mother have moved from the town), they pass a man on... (full context)
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Paul is taken aback, but Clara continues and says that, although Baxter would not let her know him, she feels that... (full context)
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One night, when Paul leaves Clara’s and has to rush to catch his train, he is ambushed by Baxter, who waits... (full context)
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...and comes down with bronchitis the next day. Mrs. Morel nurses him and Miriam and Clara come to visit, but he does not care to see either of them. (full context)
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When Paul is healed, he begins to avoid Clara and to spend more time with his male friends. Clara is frustrated and pained by... (full context)
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...worry about her. He tries his best to forget and goes for a walk with Clara to distract himself, but he cries on and off all day. Mr. Morel comes to... (full context)
Chapter 14
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Paul rarely sees Clara now and the next time he does, he tells her about Baxter. Clara is frightened... (full context)
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...dismantled. He cries often and cannot concentrate on his work. He sometimes goes to see Clara, but there is a great distance between them. In November, Clara reminds Paul that it... (full context)
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...that she is determined to live, even while in so much pain. This thought frightens Clara. Paul cannot bear to see his mother in pain and admits to Clara that he... (full context)
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...in Nottingham, Paul goes to see Baxter and tells him about his trip away with Clara. Baxter says that Paul may “do as he likes,” but Paul explains that Clara is... (full context)
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Paul goes to Nottingham to see Clara and Clara is pleased to find that Paul is, externally, stoic and resigned to his... (full context)
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...him at Christmas. He and Baxter have become close friends and Paul hardly ever sees Clara now. A couple of days before he leaves, Paul tells Baxter that Clara is coming... (full context)
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...Baxter. Baxter assures Paul that he will be alright, and the two men awkwardly discuss Clara. Baxter says that he does not know if he wants her back, but Paul insists... (full context)
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...bitter kind of pleasure in this. He goes to the station with Baxter to meet Clara from the train. She is rather aloof with the two men and sits and looks... (full context)
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From time to time, Clara glances at Paul, but she thinks, looking at him beside her husband, that there is... (full context)
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The trio have dinner together and Clara feels irritated with Paul because she feels that he is deliberately absenting himself from the... (full context)
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Paul leaves Clara and Baxter after dinner and goes to catch his train. When he has gone, Clara... (full context)
Chapter 15
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Paul feels lost and friendless. Clara is gone, and he and his father part ways and leave the family home. Mr.... (full context)
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...to laugh in a cold, cheerless way. She asks Paul if he is still with Clara and Paul tells her he is not. Miriam says that she thinks they should get... (full context)