Sons and Lovers

by

D. H. Lawrence

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William Morel Character Analysis

William Morel is the son of Mr. and Mrs. Morel and the elder brother of Annie, Paul, and Arthur. He is a cheerful, popular, and athletic child and is his mother’s favorite. William is extremely close to his mother as a child and cannot stand it if she is ill or hurt. He often spars with his father and, on one occasion, almost fights him when his father hits Mrs. Morel. Although William grows into a sociable and energetic young man, he has a fierce temper and is emotionally volatile. He is often unsure about his own opinions and relies on his mother to temper and inform his ideas. William is very ambitious and determined to get on in society. He takes a job in London and shows himself to be capable of a great deal, both intellectually and professionally. However, Mrs. Morel questions William’s motivation as he pursues a materialistic and hedonistic lifestyle and it seems clear that William has little direction in life and does not understand his own behavior well. He is cruel and spiteful in his relationship with Louisa Lily Denys Western, whom he openly considers to be stupid and shallow. Despite this, he will not break up with her and seems to hold her responsible for the fact that he dislikes her. This shows that William has learned some of his father’s abusive behaviors and this disappoints Mrs. Morel. William’s reckless and self-destructive behavior eventually brings about his own demise, as he dies young after ruining his health for the sake of money and prestige.

William Morel Quotes in Sons and Lovers

The Sons and Lovers quotes below are all either spoken by William Morel or refer to William Morel. 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 1 Quotes

He was tipful of excitement now she had come, led her about the ground, showed her everything. Then, at the peep-show, she explained the pictures, in a sort of story, to which he listened as if spell-bound. He would not leave her. All the time, he stuck close to her, bristling with a small boy’s pride of her. For no other woman looked such a lady as she did, in her little black bonnet and her cloak.

Related Characters: Mrs. Gertrude Morel, William Morel
Page Number: 12
Explanation and Analysis:

Afterwards, she said she had been silly, that the boy’s hair would have had to be cut, sooner or later. In the end, she even brought herself to say to her husband, it was just as well he had played barber when he did. But she knew, and Morel knew, that that act had caused something momentous to take place in her soul. She remembered the scene all her life, as one in which she had suffered the most intensely.

Page Number: 24
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 3 Quotes

It seemed queer to the children to see their mother, who was always busy about the house, sitting writing in her rapid fashion, thinking, referring to books, and writing again. They felt for her on such occasions the deepest respect. But they loved the ‘Guild.’ It was the only thing to which they did not grudge their mother: and that partly because she enjoyed it, partly because of the treats they derived from it. The guild was called by some hostile husbands, who found their wives getting too independent, the “clatfart” shop: that is, the gossip shop. It is true, from off the basis of the guild, the women could look at their homes, at the conditions of their own lives, and find fault.

Page Number: 69
Explanation and Analysis:

Paul was treated to dazzling descriptions of all kinds of flower-like ladies, most of whom lived like cut blooms in William’s heart, for a brief fortnight.

Related Characters: William Morel, Paul Morel
Related Symbols: Flowers
Page Number: 73
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 4 Quotes

Then Paul fished out a little spray. He always brought her one spray, the best he could find. “Pretty!” she said, in a curious tone, of a woman accepting a love-token. The boy walked all day, went miles and miles, rather than own himself beaten, and come home to her empty-handed. She never realized this, whilst he was young. She was a woman who waited for her children to grow up. And William occupied her chiefly. But when William went to Nottingham, and was not so much at home, the mother made a companion of Paul. The latter was unconsciously jealous of his brother, and William was jealous of him. At the same time, they were good friends.

Related Symbols: Flowers
Page Number: 93
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 5 Quotes

Mrs. Morel wondered, in her heart, if her son did not go walking down Piccadilly with an elegant figure and fine clothes, rather than with a woman who was near to him. But she congratulated him, in her doubtful fashion. And, as she stood over the washing tub, the mother brooded over her son. She saw him saddled with an elegant and expensive wife, earning little money, dragging along and getting draggled in some small ugly house in a suburb.

Page Number: 116
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 6 Quotes

William opened his eyes and looked at her. In his gaze was a certain baffled look of misery and fierce appreciation. “Has he made a sight of me?” she asked, laughing down on her lover. “That he has!” said William, smiling. And as he lay he continued to look at her. His eyes never sought hers. He did not want to meet her eyes. He only wanted to look at her, not to come together with her in her gaze. And the fact that he wanted to avoid her was in his eyes like misery.

Related Characters: William Morel (speaker), Louisa Lily Denys Western (speaker), Paul Morel
Related Symbols: Flowers
Page Number: 158-159
Explanation and Analysis:

“If you want to say these things, you must find another place than this. I am ashamed of you, William. Why don’t you be more manly. To do nothing but find fault with a girl—and then pretend you’re engaged to her—!” Mrs Morel subsided in wrath and indignation.

Page Number: 163
Explanation and Analysis:

Paul was in bed for seven weeks. He got up white and fragile. His father had bought him a pot of scarlet and gold tulips. They used to flame in the window, in the March sunshine, as he sat on the sofa chattering to his mother. The two knitted together in perfect intimacy. Mrs. Morel’s life now rooted itself in Paul.

Related Symbols: Flowers
Page Number: 171
Explanation and Analysis:
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Sons and Lovers PDF

William Morel Character Timeline in Sons and Lovers

The timeline below shows where the character William Morel appears in Sons and Lovers. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Family, Psychology, and the Oedipus Complex Theme Icon
 Nature and Industrialism Theme Icon
...Mrs. Morel worries that Mr. Morel will “make a holiday” of it, but the children, William and Annie, are extremely excited. (full context)
Family, Psychology, and the Oedipus Complex Theme Icon
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On the day of the fair, William can hardly contain his excitement and rushes out after lunch, as soon as the “wakes”... (full context)
Family, Psychology, and the Oedipus Complex Theme Icon
...Stars” and, hearing the men drinking inside, she fears that her husband is in there. William returns to the house for his dinner and seems exhausted after his day out. He... (full context)
Family, Psychology, and the Oedipus Complex Theme Icon
...years into their marriage, Mrs. Morel gives birth to their first child, a son called William. She is ill for a long time after his birth and feels lonely and disconnected... (full context)
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Christianity, Propriety, and Physicality Theme Icon
...morning, Mrs. Morel comes downstairs and is horrified to find that Mr. Morel has cut William’s hair off. She is furious with her husband and this incident finally turns her completely... (full context)
Chapter 2 
Family, Psychology, and the Oedipus Complex Theme Icon
Women’s Work and Women’s Rights Theme Icon
...revolve around the children and their futures. She is extremely close to her eldest son William, to the point where, if she is ill or in pain, he becomes upset. Mrs.... (full context)
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...Mrs. Morel has spread out for the minister, and complains about pains in his head. William, who is watching the scene, is silently disgusted by his father’s uncouth behavior. (full context)
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...left tense and angry together. Mrs. Morel complains about the dirty tablecloth and snaps at William, who grows sullen and kicks over a chair. She has been undermining her husband’s authority... (full context)
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 Death, Grief, and Self-Destruction  Theme Icon
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...Morel takes the children out of the house because Mr. Morel has lashed out at William. She sits on a hillside near the house and watches the sunset with the baby... (full context)
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When William comes back from school, he is upset to find that his father has left. He... (full context)
Chapter 3
Family, Psychology, and the Oedipus Complex Theme Icon
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 Death, Grief, and Self-Destruction  Theme Icon
...she has become indifferent to him. Instead, she begins to focus all her energy on William. Mr. Morel feels himself alone and abandoned while Mrs. Morel plans joyfully for William’s future. (full context)
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...it in the lane, she is harassed by one of her neighbors who claims that William has ripped her son’s collar. As the yeast man passes, he recites passages from the... (full context)
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 Death, Grief, and Self-Destruction  Theme Icon
When William is thirteen, Mrs. Morel gets him a job at this Co-op. Mr. Morel objects to... (full context)
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On top of his job, William works as a tutor and schools his pupils at home. He is an extremely impatient... (full context)
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William grows into an ambitious young man. He gets to know all the wealthy people in... (full context)
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As William grows up, Mrs. Morel begins to worry about him and wonder if he will be... (full context)
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...him progress into adulthood, and she feels that her whole life is bound up with William’s fate. She conceals her misery from her son, who is bursting with excitement about his... (full context)
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Mrs. Morel bakes him a cake as a leaving present and, while she is cooking, William shows Paul his love letters from all the various women who have fallen for him.... (full context)
Chapter 4
Family, Psychology, and the Oedipus Complex Theme Icon
Women’s Work and Women’s Rights Theme Icon
...school one day and finding his mother with a bruised eye and his father and William about to fight. Mr. Morel tried to taunt William into a brawl and only stopped... (full context)
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 Death, Grief, and Self-Destruction  Theme Icon
When William was a child, the family moved to a new house, and so Paul grows up... (full context)
 Nature and Industrialism Theme Icon
Once William and Annie have both found jobs, it becomes Paul’s responsibility to go to the public... (full context)
Women’s Work and Women’s Rights Theme Icon
 Nature and Industrialism Theme Icon
...the closure. Mrs. Morel is frustrated to have Mr. Morel under her feet all day. William, who is away in London, begins to write regularly to his mother and Mrs. Morel... (full context)
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 Nature and Industrialism Theme Icon
On Christmas Eve, the children walk down to the station to meet William from the train. Mrs. Morel waits at home, excited but tense in case something should... (full context)
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However, William stays in touch with his family and continues to write to his mother. He has... (full context)
Chapter 5
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Christianity, Propriety, and Physicality Theme Icon
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 Death, Grief, and Self-Destruction  Theme Icon
William still writes to his mother, but the tone of his letters has changed, and she... (full context)
Family, Psychology, and the Oedipus Complex Theme Icon
Women’s Work and Women’s Rights Theme Icon
...can travel back and forth to Nottingham. It is expensive, and Mrs. Morel complains that William never sends her any money. Paul gripes that William spends a fortune on his own... (full context)
Family, Psychology, and the Oedipus Complex Theme Icon
William sends Mrs. Morel a photograph of Louisa Lily Denys Western, the woman he is having... (full context)
Chapter 6
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William is engaged to Miss Louisa Lily Denys Western and spends a great deal of money... (full context)
 Nature and Industrialism Theme Icon
...Louisa finds the house cold and the atmosphere frosty. Louisa goes to bed early, at William’s suggestion, and the rest of the family follow. William stays up then to talk with... (full context)
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Mrs. Morel feels pained and slightly embarrassed on her son’s behalf. William asks his mother if she likes Louisa and Mrs. Morel says she does. William complains... (full context)
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...amazement of Mr. Morel, who is always up early. When she finally does come down, William is annoyed that she treats Annie like a servant and that she is haughty and... (full context)
Christianity, Propriety, and Physicality Theme Icon
That evening, William and Louisa stay up late together, and Mrs. Morel waits up in a separate room... (full context)
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William comes home again for his Easter break but this time he does not bring Louisa.... (full context)
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William has another holiday from work and brings Louisa home again. Paul notices that William does... (full context)
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Although the young couple are “tender” with each other, William, at times, despises Louisa and often snaps at her. He finds that she still treats... (full context)
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Louisa listens miserably and Mrs. Morel tries to defend her. William feels that he hates Louisa because he is used to running his ideas and opinions... (full context)
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In private, William complains bitterly to his mother. He says that Louisa is stupid and relies on him... (full context)
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William continues to be unkind to Louisa throughout the rest of their stay. He claims that... (full context)
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Mrs. Morel walks to the train station with William and Louisa on the day they leave. On the way, William complains to his mother... (full context)
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Mrs. Morel worries about William all summer; she fears that he is about to ruin his own life. Paul tries... (full context)
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A few days later, Mrs. Morel receives word from London that William is sick. She travels up to visit him and finds herself in William’s dingy London... (full context)
 Death, Grief, and Self-Destruction  Theme Icon
Paul goes to fetch Mr. Morel from the mine. Paul cannot comprehend that fact that William is dead and sits, stunned, while he waits for his father to emerge from the... (full context)
Christianity, Propriety, and Physicality Theme Icon
 Death, Grief, and Self-Destruction  Theme Icon
...Mr. Morel arrange the furniture so that there will be space for the coffin and William is brought in, carried by Mr. Morel and several of the miners that he works... (full context)
Family, Psychology, and the Oedipus Complex Theme Icon
 Death, Grief, and Self-Destruction  Theme Icon
...to persuade her to respond. She ignores him every night, lost in her grief for William, and Paul feels hurt and rejected by this. His life becomes dreary without his mother’s... (full context)
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 Death, Grief, and Self-Destruction  Theme Icon
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...hope for the future again. She hears from Louisa for a while but, just as William predicted, the girl moves on with her life and forgets him and the family. Mr.... (full context)
Chapter 7
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 Death, Grief, and Self-Destruction  Theme Icon
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...Paul says that he used to believe every human life was important but now, since William died, he thinks that life is important but that individual lives are not necessarily very... (full context)
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 Death, Grief, and Self-Destruction  Theme Icon
...Paul is trying to fix the umbrella, which Geoffrey has broken, because it belonged to William and his mother will see it. Miriam feels a deep connection to Paul and, as... (full context)
Chapter 10
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...proud when he hears, although he obviously wishes it were more money, and laments that William would have been just as successful by now. (full context)
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Paul gets an invite to a dinner party at Mr. Jordan’s and Mrs. Morel gets William’s old suit tailored for him to wear. He is very excited to tell her all... (full context)
Chapter 11
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...Paul brood and dither over the girl. She worries because his behavior reminds her of William. (full context)
Chapter 14
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 Death, Grief, and Self-Destruction  Theme Icon
...mother’s death. The funeral is held during a rainstorm and Mrs. Morel is buried with William. After the funeral, Mr. Morel frets and cries to Mrs. Morel’s family that he always... (full context)