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
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.