Notes on Sons and Lovers Themes

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Sons and Lovers Topic Tracking: Mother-Son Relationship

Mother-Son Relationship 1: Her children, but more specifically William, are the only bright spot in Mrs. Morel's frustrated, disgusted life. She despises the life she has with her husband and lavishes all of her love and attention to her son.

Mother-Son Relationship 2: A worried Mrs. Morel notices that William does not seem to be himself and tries to give him advice. She is concerned that he may turn out to be like his father, drinking and socializing too much. Mrs. Morel does not like the attention William receives from all the girls who call on him.

Mother-Son Relationship 3: Although Mrs. Morel is confident that William will so well in London, she is greatly saddened by his leaving. William's living in London depresses Mrs. Morel to such a degree that he is all she thinks about when he is not with her, but she consoles herself thinking that he is in London for her alone.

Mother-Son Relationship 4: When William leaves home for London again, Mrs. Morel is depressed and sad again. She misses her son so much that it hurts to see him leave. Both she and William know that the love they have for one another is strong to last their separation.

Mother-Son Relationship 5: When Mr. Morel becomes sick, Mrs. Morel does not feel as badly as she should; she wants to feel bad that he is in pain, but her love and affection for her husband is replaced by her love for William.

Mother-Son Relationship 6: Paul imagines that he and his mother will live together when he is old enough to earn money by himself and when his father has died. Paul loves his mother so much that he wants to be with her and spend all of his time with her. To live with his mother by himself is his greatest desire.

Mother-Son Relationship 7: Mrs. Morel is greatly saddened by William's engagement to Gipsy. She feels threatened and scared that William's future wife will take her place as the woman he loves most in his heart; she turns to Paul, her second son, for comfort and support.

Mother-Son Relationship 8: Mrs. Morel cannot take William's death well. She shuts out the rest of her family from her life because she is in too much pain and hurt. Not only has she lost William, she has lost a part of herself. She has loved William so much, so passionately, that she has lost part of her soul when he dies.

Mother-Son Relationship 9: Paul's nearly fatal illness makes Mrs. Morel realize how much he means to her and how much she loves him. After Paul recovers, she focuses all of her attention and love on Paul. He is all she has now, now that William has died.

Mother-Son Relationship 10: Although Paul does not realize the seriousness of his relationship with Miriam, his mother certainly does, and she is jealous. As with William and his fiancee, Mrs. Morel feels threatened by the presence of a girl whom her son is very serious about. Paul, however, does notice that his mother is hurt that he spends much of his time with Miriam.

Mother-Son Relationship 11: Mrs. Morel instinctively knows that Paul will become famous and known. More importantly, she feels that her destiny and her dreams will be carried out through Paul. She knows that Paul is capable of accomplishing all of her goals and her dreams.

Mother-Son Relationship 12: When Mrs. Morel states that Paul does not seem to spend time with anybody but Miriam, Paul sees that she is hurt that he is spending time with a woman other than her. He feels bad that the time he spends with Miriam is making his mother suffer, and he hates Miriam for making his mother suffer so much. He attempts to convince his mother that she is the one woman who he loves the most and wants to come home to, but his mother is too hurt to believe him.

Mother-Son Relationship 13: When Paul talks with Miriam about their relationship, he realizes that it is his mother whom he loves the most. He knows that he is the most important person in her life. He tells Miriam that he will never love her as much as she loves him because he will always love his mother the most.

Mother-Son Relationship 14: During Paul and Mrs. Morel's trip to the cathedral, Paul notices for the first time the temporality of their lives and wishes that he could have had more time with his mother. He berates the fact that he was the second-born son, wishing that he were her first-born, so that he would have had more time with her.

Mother-Son Relationship 15: Mrs. Morel hates Miriam even more than she already does because of the way Paul is affected by her. She hates that Miriam is changing his will, his passion, his temperament. She can see that Paul will die of the excessive, passionate temperament he fosters when he is with Miriam.

Mother-Son Relationship 16: Mrs. Morel is terribly tired of her involvement in Paul and Miriam's relationship and decides to stop intervening. She knows that Paul is an adult now and that there is nothing she can do to stop Paul from seeing Miriam. She feels that she can never forgive her son for sacrificing himself to love Miriam.

Mother-Son Relationship 17: Paul tries persuading his mother that Clara is a better match for him than Miriam ever was, but his mother is deaf to his words. He tells his mother that her jealousy of his relationship with Clara is the only thing that stops her from liking Clara. Paul is too wrapped up in his involvement with Clara and with his mother's dislike of Clara to notice that his mother does not look well at all.

Mother-Son Relationship 18: Paul has begun to realize how much his mother affects his life. Her deep love for him has made her a part of himself that when he wants to break free from his mother, he is unable to get away from her. His mother is ingrained into his very soul.

Mother-Son Relationship 19: Paul declares that he will never marry as long as he has his mother to love. He does not envision himself marrying, despite his mother's assurances that he will want to marry when he finds the right woman.

Mother-Son Relationship 20: Clara sees that Paul is distancing himself from her because of his mother. She knows in her heart that he will never sacrifice his mother for her. Paul tells her that it seems that his mother will never die because she is stubborn and relentless in heart, mind and soul.

Mother-Son Relationship 21: Paul suffers to see his mother in so much pain. He cannot take watching his mother turn into a limp, lifeless creature from a person of vitality and spirit. When he looks into his mother's eyes, he can see that she agrees that she wants to die to end all the pain she is in, yet her stubborn spirit and body will not allow her.

Mother-Son Relationship 22: When Paul kisses his dead mother, he feels emotions he has never experienced from her: cold and harsh, unreceptive and loveless. He does not want to let his mother go from his life.

Mother-Son Relationship 23: As much as Paul wants his mother to be with him, he decides that he cannot follow his mother. Even her spirit will guide him if he allows it to but he decides to break away from her. He knows he must separate himself from her to become a man of his own instinct and will.

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