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Biplob Prodhan
  • 2 weeks ago
  • 19
Why does Paul fail to achieve meaningful relationship with either Miriam or Clara in Sons and Lovers? [NU. 1993, 2006. 2011]

Write a note on the man-woman conflict in Sons and Lovers.

Ans. In Sons and Lovers, the man-woman conflict is all pervasive. The novel begins with the conflict between Walter More and his wife, Gertrude. Subsequently, the major part of the novel is devoted to the conflict between Paul and Miriam and between Paul and Clara. According to Lawrence the conflict between man and woman arises from the fact that the civilized woman becomes the desperate antagonist of man, drawing from him his greatest asset, namely his manhood and his masculinity. A woman always tries to feminize a man and bring him under the control of her will. But Lawrence believes in the law of polarity. If two persons, coming in contact with each other in any form of mutual relationship, can achieve polarization, they can enjoy happiness. There should be no attempt to dominate or possess the other partner.

Mrs. Gertrude Morel and Walter Morel fail to maintain their mutual understanding as husband and wife. This mutual incompatibility of the pair not only destroys the prospects of their personal happiness but also vitiates the lives of their children who come to despise their father and develop an unhealthy attachment with their mother. Mrs. Morel becomes frustrated in her married life and makes husband substitutes of her sons.

Paul gets friendly with the romantic and ambitious Miriam. But Miriam is as desirous of having a complete hold on Paul as his mother. She, too, fails to achieve polarization. She wants to wheedle the life out of things. Paul appreciates her sense of judgement and romantic bent of mind, but resists her efforts to pocket him. The worst part of her domineering tendencies is that on account of her extreme religiosity and her sexual inhibition, she lacks the capacity to offer anything in return. Paul, too, seeks both intellectual inspiration and physical gratification from Miriam, but on account of strong mother-pull, he is incapable of arousing Miriam. Paul wants her body, but she only offers her soul. They go through a strange soul- soaking and soul sucking experience which takes them nowhere. Thus, Paul’s relationship with Miriam is tortured and unsatisfactory. Paul comes to feel he should marry Miriam, yet there is always, at the back of Paul’s conscience, the spirit of his mother and her domination of him. So the relationship with Miriam finally dwindles itself away in a completely unsatisfactory way.

The relationship with Clara brings to Paul something of fulfilment. He finds with Clara the complete physical experience he regards essential in one’s life. Clara, being all flesh and no intellect, makes no demand, to exercise a hold on Paul’s soul. She can satisfy his passion without threatening his identity. She offers no rivalry to Mrs. Morel and is, therefore, more acceptable to her. For a while Paul and Clara appear to be perfectly happy together. But even this happiness proves to be deceptive. Clara lacks Miriam’s spiritual qualities. Paul, too, lacks the pure animality of Baxter Dawes. He feels stifled by Clara’s inordinate demands for love-making. So the two soon tire of each other. Once more, Paul returns completely to his mother.

Thus Paul under the influence of strong mother-pull, fails to achieve meaningful relationship with either Miriam or Clara.


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Biplob Prodhan
Biplob Prodhan Founder & Director EDNOUB Foundation Ednoub Private Program

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