Notes on Characters from Sons and Lovers

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Sons and Lovers Major Characters

Walter Morel: Father of Paul Morel, husband of Gertrude Morel. Works as a miner. His temper is susceptible to quick anger and emotion. When he was courting Gertrude, he was a handsome man and a fine dancer. His wife hates him because he gets to enjoy himself drinking while she stays home caring for the children. Gertrude's hatred for her husband begins with his excessive drunken fits and his temper. Morel does not have a close relationship to any of his children.

Gertrude Morel: Paul's mother. Intensely hates her role as Walter Morel's wife and wishes that she were not the wife of a miner. Hates that her husband drinks excessively and cannot control himself. She focuses all of her love and attention from her husband to her two older sons. First she devotes herself to William and is very jealous of William's relationship with his fiancee. She resents that William allows Lily to treat Annie like a servant. After William's death, she clings to Paul. She severely dislikes Miriam and believes that Clara is not good for Paul either. In the last few painful months of her life, she struggles to live for Paul. Paul and Annie give her morphia to stop her pain and die.

William Morel: The first Morel child. Mrs. Morel transfers her affections for her husband to William. She is horrified when her husband cuts off William's blond curls. William is a gifted, intelligent and handsome child and teenager, easily finding jobs and earning a salary. Becomes involved with Bestwood and London society and engaged to Louisa Lily Danys Western. Hates the way Lily treats his family, especially Annie. William dies before he can marry Lily, but he never truly loved her anyway.

Annie Morel: The only daughter of the Morel family. Paul is very close and loving to Annie. Annie does not like Miriam; she can see how much their mother suffers when Paul is with Miriam and hates Miriam for that. Paul and Mrs. Morel are miserable when she marries and leaves home. Later, Annie and Paul conspire to give their mother morphia to help speed up her death.

Paul Morel: Protagonist of novel. Quiet, shy, reserved by nature but intensely passionate and emotional. Knows French and enjoys painting. Enjoys staying home with his mother during the evenings rather than playing outside. When at work, Paul is absorbed by the activities and the people, especially the factory girls. Has an off-and-on relationship with Miriam Leivers for seven years. Hates and loves her at the same time. Miriam expects him to love her as passionately and deeply as she loves him, but Paul does not feel any sexual attraction to her. Ends relationship with Miriam and begins one with Clara Dawes, a married woman separated from her husband. He and Clara have a very sexual relationship. They end their involvement together when Clara decides that she wants to return to her husband.

Miriam Leivers: The first girl Paul ever loved and had sex with. She is a beautiful, deeply intense and devoted girl whose feelings for Paul are as passionate as her love for God and church. She loves him more than he loves her. Paul gets frustrated and furious with the way she absorbs everything in her soul and cannot fathom why she has to treat everything with so much depth and intensity.

Clara Dawes: The older, defiant woman with whom Paul has a sexual and passionate relationship. She is a married woman, but she is separated from her husband. At first, Paul felt that Clara left Dawes because she hated him, but he soon realizes that she does care for Dawes a great deal. Clara can satisfy him sexually in what Miriam could not. Yet Paul tires of Clara because he can see that she does not belong to him. Not only does Paul know that she still wants her husband, he notices that Clara does not want to be with him when he is troubled or worried. Clara returns to her husband after Paul tells her that Dawes has been ill for some time.

Baxter Dawes: Clara's husband. He also works at Thomas Jordan's. He and Paul have a tense, hateful relationship, yet they are bound to each other for some reason. After they fight each other a couple of time, they manage to form a companionship. Dawes and Paul are sympathetic to each other's suffering and worries.

Minor Characters

Arthur Morel: The last of the Morel children. He is wildly impulsive, antagonistic, emotional and temperamental. He recklessly joins the army at the advice of his friend but begs his mother to buy him out as soon as she can. The strict military regime does not discipline him enough. He has sex with his girl, Beatrice, before they marry. At first, Arthur distances himself from his wife and baby, but he soon realizes his role and responsibilities as a father.

Mrs. Leivers: Miriam's mother whose personality and temperament is like Miriam's. Both feel deeply about nature and religion, and are devotedly pious to church and religion. Takes a liking to Paul.

Edgar Leivers: Miriam's elder brother whose companionship Paul enjoys.

Thomas Jordan: The elderly manufacturer whose company, Thomas Jordan & Sons, Surgical Appliances, Paul works at.

Mr. Pappleworth: Paul's boss at Thomas Jordan's.

Fanny and Polly: The factory girls at Thomas Jordan's. Paul enjoys talking to them.

Louisa Lily Danys Western: The high-society, stupid fiancee of William's. Lily is very shallow and insipid; William has to buy her all of her necessities. The Morels treat her kindly, but she treats Annie like a servant. William does not love her, but he feels that he is stuck with her. He declares that if he died suddenly she would not pine for him. After William dies, his declaration rings true; the Morels never hear from Lily again.

Agatha Leivers: Miriam's elder sister who chastises Miriam for being so free and open with her feelings for Paul.

Beatrice: Arthur's wife and mother of his child. Beatrice matches Arthur's impulsive and reckless nature. They have sex before they marry. Their child is born six months after their wedding.

Leonard: Annie's husband.

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