Sons & Lovers
Publisher: The Copyright Group Ltd.
Date: May 2017
Duration: 2 hours 17 minutes
Lawrence's style is bold, intimate and inventive and he always has the capacity to shock. His great strength comes from the realism of the characters he portrays and the play on tension - first seen in the exchanges between Gertrude and Morel and continuing with Paul, his Mother and his two women - which never lets up. Then marvel at the depth and quality of the writing as the story moves relentlessly towards its conclusion. 1. ESTRANGEMENT. In this opening section, the Nottinghamshire mining community and two of the main characters - Walter Morel and Gertrude Coppard - are introduced. They first meet at a Christmas party and are married the next year. When Gertrude discovers the unpaid furniture bills, however, their marriage begins to sour. Gertrude then learns, contrary to what her husband has told her. that they do not even own their house. Finally, when Walter cuts off their three year old William's hair, any hope for a happy marriage is lost and Walter resorts to drinking. Gertrude gives birth to a daughter, Annie, followed by a second son, Paul. 2. BREAKING THE MOULD. Returning home from the pub, Walter rows with his wife and in anger flings a drawer at her, cutting her brow. When he later adds theft and dishonesty to violence, his wife gives up on him completely. Seventeen months after Paul's birth, the fourth and last child, Arthur, is born. The story now follows the progress of William, who at the age of 20 accepts a post in London at £120 a year. But Paul's story is less straightforward. Without any clear vision of what he would like to do, Paul is taken by his mother Jordan's Surgical Appliance Factory, where he is employed as a junior clerk. 3. AT JORDAN'S. Paul begins working as junior clerk under brusque Mr Pappleworth. Meanwhile, Paul and his mother grow increasingly inseparable: `the two shared their life completely'. On a visit with his mother to the Leivers family, Paul first meets 14 year-old Miriam. The next day, receiving news of her son William's illness, Gertrude travels to London to see him. She stays up all night with him while he raves unconsciously. But, inflicted with pneumonia, he dies early in the morning. 4. COMMUNION WITH NATURE. Miriam begins to fall in love with Paul and to resent her own uncouth appearance. On a walk with Miriam and her mother, Paul is shown a sparrow's nest, and his enthusiasm for nature intensifies Miriam's love for him. On another occasion, Miriam shows Paul a wild rose bush, the sight of which elevates their souls. But, in a fit of jealousy, Paul's mother expresses her anger at his late return home, and, Paul, feeling guilty, denies his love for Miriam. Miriam decides not to call at Paul's home anymore, but the section ends optimistically when Paul announces that he has won two first prizes for his art. 5. A MOTHER'S RIVALRY. While in town, Paul meets Miriam in the company of Clara, the beautiful estranged wife of Baxter Dawes. One night, Paul returns home to find his mother looking very ill. As usual, she is upset by Paul's lateness and accuses him of spending too much time with Miriam. Paul adamantly reassures that he does not love Miriam and realises more than ever how strong the bond is between him and his mother is. In the spring, Paul tells Miriam that he can't love her - but she knows that he has been subjected to pressure at home. 6. LOVE FOR THREE WOMEN. Miriam is aware of Paul's attractions to Clara and, as a kind of test, arranges for Paul to meet Clara again. Paul writes to Miriam in an attempt to break of their courtship, explaining that their love - love of two souls - is unsuited to marriage. Meanwhile, he continues to see Clara. But Paul believes that his feelings for her are innocent, refusing to admit that there is any sexual attraction between them. In his heart and soul, he still feels bound to Miriam. 7. VIRGIN NO LONGER. After spending a day alone with Miriam, Paul makes love to her. Afterwards, although Paul loves her `to the last fibre of her being', he is aware of 'a dull pain in his soul'. A few days later he both tells his mother and Clara that he intends to break off his engagement with Miriam. While walking with Clara along the bank of the River Trent, Paul and Clara succumb to the passion of the moment and make love. This time, however there is no remorse or struggle in his soul - just the naked passion. Paul now visits his mother, who is staying with his sister, Annie, in Sheffield. Here, he discovers that, in addition to heart problems, his mother is suffering from what appears to be a large tumour in her side. 8. PARTING OF THE WAYS. Mrs Morel returns home - with the look death on her face. Each day, after work, Paul joins Annie to watch over his mother. As Mrs Morel slips further away, Paul feels his life being destroyed `piece by piece within him' she lies in bed, heavily drugged, but it is Paul who feels the greatest pain. Eventually, he and Annie resolve to end their mother's misery with an overdose of morphine. The story ends poignantly as Paul feels the total emptiness at his huge loss. He is alone in the world: Clara has returned to her husband and, later, when Miriam suggests marriage to Paul, he is unable to make the sacrifice.