Sons and Lovers

by

D. H. Lawrence

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The Moon Symbol Analysis

The Moon Symbol Icon

The moon is associated with motherhood in the novel and represents the oppressive bond that exists between Mrs. Morel and Paul. When Mrs. Morel is pregnant with Paul, she has a fight with her husband and is thrown out of the house. She goes into her garden and is surprised to find herself bathed in light from a full moon overhead. The presence of the moon soothes her and calms the child, Paul, who is “boiling within her,” and this represents the love that Mrs. Morel will develop for Paul and her hopes for the future that she will invest in him. Later in the novel, this bond between Mrs. Morel and Paul becomes problematic because it infringes on Paul’s ability to form a romantic relationship; he is so close to his mother that they are almost like lovers and she possesses him in a way his lovers cannot. This is reflected again using the symbol of the moon in the scene in which Paul sees the large, orange moon above the beach when he is with Miriam and finds himself unable to understand or express the physical desire that she arouses in him. The moon is traditionally associated with femininity and this connects the moon to the idea of motherhood. The moon, however, does not create light but takes light in and reflects it back. This represents the circular and destructive nature of the love between Paul and Mrs. Morel. Paul’s bond with his mother does not help him create new life, through reproduction with a partner, but instead flows backwards into his mother, who dies at the end of the novel and with whom Paul can create no future.

The Moon Quotes in Sons and Lovers

The Sons and Lovers quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Moon. 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

Mrs. Morel leaned on the garden gate, looking out, and she lost herself awhile. She did not know what she thought. Except for a slight feeling of sickness, and her consciousness in the child, herself melted out like scent into the shiny, pale air. After a time, the child too melted with her in the mixing-pot of moonlight, and she rested with the hills and lilies and houses, all swum together in a kind of swoon.

Related Symbols: Flowers, The Moon
Page Number: 34
Explanation and Analysis:
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The Moon Symbol Timeline in Sons and Lovers

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Moon 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
Christianity, Propriety, and Physicality Theme Icon
 Death, Grief, and Self-Destruction  Theme Icon
 Nature and Industrialism Theme Icon
Outside, there is a huge pale moon. Mrs. Morel is shocked by the sight of it and wanders blindly down the lane,... (full context)
Chapter 4
Family, Psychology, and the Oedipus Complex Theme Icon
 Nature and Industrialism Theme Icon
...the end of the street, which overlooks the dark valley. Paul likes to see the moon rise and, one night, when he has fought with the other boys, he remembers a... (full context)
Chapter 7
Family, Psychology, and the Oedipus Complex Theme Icon
Christianity, Propriety, and Physicality Theme Icon
 Nature and Industrialism Theme Icon
...the shore in the dark, they are startled by the appearance of a huge, orange moon above the sandbanks. Miriam is amazed by the sight and thinks it must have some... (full context)
Chapter 11
Family, Psychology, and the Oedipus Complex Theme Icon
Christianity, Propriety, and Physicality Theme Icon
 Nature and Industrialism Theme Icon
...of the lilies drifting in on the breeze. Paul goes outside and looks at the moon. He finds a patch of irises growing beneath the lilies and is startled by the... (full context)