Sons and Lovers


D. H. Lawrence

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Themes and Colors
Family, Psychology, and the Oedipus Complex Theme Icon
Christianity, Propriety, and Physicality Theme Icon
Women’s Work and Women’s Rights Theme Icon
 Death, Grief, and Self-Destruction  Theme Icon
 Nature and Industrialism Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Sons and Lovers, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Family, Psychology, and the Oedipus Complex

D. H. Lawrence’s novel Sons and Lovers examines the emotional dynamics of the Morel family and charts the gradual decline of the middle son, Paul Morel, as he navigates tensions between his romantic life and his family life. Many of the conflicts in Sons and Lovers are driven by underlying psychological forces, which even the characters themselves do not understand. This makes it difficult for them to respond in ways that help, rather than…

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Christianity, Propriety, and Physicality

Christianity was an important aspect of life in Britain in the early 1900s, when Sons and Lovers is set, and Lawrence uses frequent references to Biblical stories to underpin much of the action of the novel. However, when paired with social notions of propriety (which were standard in this period in Britain and which encouraged celibacy outside of marriage), Christian beliefs disrupt the lives of the characters by discouraging them from exploring their physical urges…

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Women’s Work and Women’s Rights

Throughout the novel, Paul’s attitude towards women is defined by his love for his mother, Mrs. Morel, which leads him to compare his female lovers with her. Since Paul’s love for his mother is rooted in idealism and not in reality, the other women in his life, Clara and Miriam, cannot compare with Paul’s romantic idea of how women should be, and they find themselves cast aside by Paul as they fail…

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 Death, Grief, and Self-Destruction

Life and death are closely interlinked throughout Sons and Lovers, and grief has a palpable and lasting impact on the lives of the characters. Sons and Lovers was concluded in the aftermath of the death of Lawrence’s own mother, and his experiences with grief shape the events of the novel. Death is portrayed as an ever-present force in the novel, something which is both terrifying and, at times, terribly seductive. Throughout the novel, Lawrence…

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 Nature and Industrialism

Lawrence uses nature and the natural world to represent the inner lives of the characters throughout Sons and Lovers, suggesting that human beings are not separate from the natural world but rather extensions of it. Lawrence indicates that the closer and more harmonious the relationship between humans and the natural world, the happier and more fulfilling human lives will be. The further the characters travel from the natural world, the more unstable and unhappy…

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