Sons and Lovers

by

D. H. Lawrence

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Darkness  Symbol Icon

Darkness represents hidden or unconscious desire in the novel. When Miriam and Paul have sex for the first time, Paul leads Miriam into a dark place among some fir trees and says that he “wishes the darkness were thicker.” This suggests that, although Paul wants to love Miriam, his true intentions and feelings towards her are unclear to him and he is ashamed of his attraction to her or is ashamed of the way he treats her (as he fails to commit to her on several occasions). Similarly, when Paul brings Clara home to meet his family, he walks her to the train in the dark and is suddenly overcome with rage when she tells him she wants to go home. This suggests that he privately wants to dominate Clara but is not comfortable with this side of himself and will not force her to stay with him. Baxter Dawes hides in the dark when he waits to attack Paul and the fight brings an element of relief to Paul and ends the tension between the two men. The fight, which takes place in the dark, suggests that the men secretly wanted to fight, even though they do not acknowledge this, because fighting allows them to express their emotions and feel release. Finally, at the end of the novel, Paul wishes to die himself after Mrs. Morel’s death. Although he is aware of his destructive tendencies, he is not explicitly aware that he wants to kill himself and, instead, walks into the dark, unsure what he plans to do. He ultimately rejects darkness to follow the light back to the town, which suggests that he rejects death and chooses to live instead.

Darkness Quotes in Sons and Lovers

The Sons and Lovers quotes below all refer to the symbol of Darkness . 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 2  Quotes

She thrust the infant forward to the crimson, throbbing sun, almost with relief. She saw him lift his little fist. Then she put him to her bosom again, ashamed almost of her impulse to give him back again whence he came.

[…]

“I will call him ‘Paul’,” she said, suddenly, she knew not why. After a while, she went home. A fine shadow was flung over the deep green meadow, darkening all.

Related Characters: Mrs. Gertrude Morel (speaker), Paul Morel
Related Symbols: Darkness
Page Number: 51
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 11 Quotes

Her big brown eyes were watching him, still and resigned and loving; she lay as if she had given herself up to sacrifice: there was her body for him; but the look at the back of her eyes, like a creature awaiting immolation, arrested him, and all his blood fell back … She was very quiet, very calm. She only realized that she was doing something for him. He could hardly bear it. She lay to be sacrificed for him, because she loved him so much. And he had to sacrifice her. For a second, he wished he were sex-less, or dead. Then he shut his eyes again to her, and his blood beat back again.

Related Characters: Paul Morel, Miriam Leivers
Related Symbols: Darkness
Page Number: 333-334
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 15 Quotes

The realest thing was the thick darkness at night. That seemed to him whole and comprehensible and restful. He could leave himself to it. Suddenly a piece of paper started near his feet and blew along down the pavement. He stood still, rigid, with clenched fists, a flame of agony going over him. And he saw again the sick room, his mother, her eyes. Unconsciously he had been with her, in her company. The swift hop of the paper reminded him she was gone. But he had been with her. He wanted everything to stand still, so he could be with her again.

Related Characters: Mrs. Gertrude Morel, Paul Morel
Related Symbols: Darkness
Page Number: 454
Explanation and Analysis:
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Darkness Symbol Timeline in Sons and Lovers

The timeline below shows where the symbol Darkness appears in Sons and Lovers. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 4
Family, Psychology, and the Oedipus Complex Theme Icon
 Nature and Industrialism Theme Icon
On Friday nights, Annie and Arthur go out with their friends, but Paul prefers to stay in and... (full context)
Chapter 5
Family, Psychology, and the Oedipus Complex Theme Icon
...the people there. He even enjoys the commute and the long walk home in the dark; he likes looking at the lights from the surrounding villages, shining in the dark landscape.... (full context)
Chapter 11
Family, Psychology, and the Oedipus Complex Theme Icon
Christianity, Propriety, and Physicality Theme Icon
...eyes, his desire is quenched. They walk back to Paul’s house together and, in the dark, Paul kisses her and feels his passion grow once more. Miriam, however, pulls away with... (full context)
Chapter 12
Family, Psychology, and the Oedipus Complex Theme Icon
Christianity, Propriety, and Physicality Theme Icon
...is irritated by this and kisses Clara roughly. They walk up the hills in the dark and look at the stars and down over the coal pits. (full context)
Chapter 13
Family, Psychology, and the Oedipus Complex Theme Icon
 Death, Grief, and Self-Destruction  Theme Icon
...the moment. He is hurt and she comforts him as they sit together in the dark and look out over the canal. They listen to the birds and the sounds of... (full context)
Family, Psychology, and the Oedipus Complex Theme Icon
Christianity, Propriety, and Physicality Theme Icon
 Death, Grief, and Self-Destruction  Theme Icon
...by the thought of her. Clara only feels that he is really with her at night, and she asks him about this sensation. Paul says that he does not want love... (full context)
Family, Psychology, and the Oedipus Complex Theme Icon
 Death, Grief, and Self-Destruction  Theme Icon
One night, when Paul leaves Clara’s and has to rush to catch his train, he is ambushed... (full context)
Chapter 14
Family, Psychology, and the Oedipus Complex Theme Icon
 Death, Grief, and Self-Destruction  Theme Icon
As he walks home that night in the dark, Paul feels that he is walking away from earth and towards death... (full context)
Chapter 15
Family, Psychology, and the Oedipus Complex Theme Icon
Christianity, Propriety, and Physicality Theme Icon
 Death, Grief, and Self-Destruction  Theme Icon
...feel the “reality” of anything around him. The only thing that feels real is the darkness at night. One night, when he gets home late and eats no dinner, he wonders... (full context)
Christianity, Propriety, and Physicality Theme Icon
 Death, Grief, and Self-Destruction  Theme Icon
...is emanating empty space from his body and that he is becoming part of the night. (full context)
Family, Psychology, and the Oedipus Complex Theme Icon
 Death, Grief, and Self-Destruction  Theme Icon
 Nature and Industrialism Theme Icon
Paul leans against a stile and feels himself surrounded by the night. He feels that time has ceased to exist and that, as he is part of... (full context)