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
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.
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.
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.