Examine and estimate Walter Morel as a tragic character. [DU. 1993, NU. 2013, 2016]
In Sons and Lovers, Walter Morel has been depicted as a pathetic figure who fails to command the respect of his family. How far is this statement true? [NU. 2004]
Ans. Walter Morel, the miner, belongs to that class of common people who are devoid of intellectual facility, full of physical life closely in touch with the earth and rejoice in the life of nature. He is a healthy man, open and spontaneous in his responses to life, close to the primitive in his uninhabited delight in singing and dancing and drinking. His tragedy is that he has married a woman of a middleclass family, who loves ideas and looks down upon his instinctive physical life.
In his youth Walter Morel was a man of action, sensuous and lively. He possessed a fascinating personality that cast a spell on Gertrude Morel when she met him at a Christmas party. His charming personality, manly figure and a sense of humour were all that attracted Gertrude Morel. The result was the love at first sight with a hasty marriage.
Walter Morel’s marriage to Gertrude has been the unfortunate result of the romantic heat of the moment. Their natures are poles apart. Hence they have never been on good terms with each other. Their days of happiness are short-lived. No doubt, he tells lies to his wife about the house and the furniture, but they are innocent lies, aimed merely at hiding his poverty from a newly married and dearly loved wife. His wife insults him, treats him meanly, turns his children against him, and he reacts violently to it. Despite all this calculated cruelty, he continues to love his wife and shows his genuine concern when she is hurt, or when she is about to die.
Mr. Walter Morel, has real love for his sons, even though they have always sided with their mother and have always been eager to come to blows with him. He loves William with all the largeness of his heart, and even long after his death cannot pass by the cemetery in which he was buried or the office where he worked. During Paul’s illness, he is genuinely concerned for him, and visits him in his bedroom full of solicitude for him. As a matter of fact, his heart hungers for the love of his wife and children but this is denied to him, only because he has a rugged exterior and unpolished manner. It is this lack of sympathy, the constant complaints of his wife and her efforts at improving him that send him to the pub and make a drunkard of an essentially noble man.
To sum up, Walter Morel is a typical miner with a miner’s poverty and a miner’s roughness and want of polish. By the end of the novel, he becomes a pathetic figure. Gradually he is alienated from his family, and fails to command that respect and authority which the head of a family should normally enjoy. With the death of his wife he becomes a derelict, a wretched figure, doomed to a lonely old age.
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