CliffsNotes on Lawrence’s Sons and Lovers

CliffsNotes on Lawrence’s Sons and Lovers

CliffsNotes on Lawrence’s Sons and Lovers

CliffsNotes on Lawrence’s Sons and Lovers


Originally called Paul Morel, the novel is the story of the Morel family. Gertrude and Walter Morel married and went to Bestwood, a mining village in Nottinghamshire. She was a welleducated and refined person; he was a warm, vigorous, uneducated man. They had four children—Annie, the daughter, and three sons, William, Paul, and Arthur. As Gertrude Morel’s sons grew up, she no longer felt love for her husband and instead turned all her love and passion towards her sons. The sons grew up hating their father and completely dependent upon their mother, who became the strongest factor in their lives; as a result, when they became men, they were unable to find a satisfactory relationship with any woman. William, the eldest, chose a flighty girl who gave him physical satisfaction, but nothing more, for his soul was his mother’s. The struggle of this impasse killed him. Paul, the second son, chose...


This outline is designed not as a substitute for the text of Sons and Lovers but as an instructive and motivating guide to the work of D. H. Lawrence, specifically the novel presently under discussion.

It has been said with authority that Sons and Lovers, the classic story of a boy growing up in a mining town in Nottinghamshire, represents Lawrence’s own childhood and his own family. Thus, a brief review of Lawrence’s life might be of interest to the reader before approaching the novel.

David Herbert Lawrence was born at Eastwood, England, on September 11, 1885, the fourth child of a collier father and a genteel mother. He was educated at Nottingham High School and University College, Nottingham. From the age of 17 to 21, he taught miners’ children in a tough elementary school. For the next two years he was at Nottingham University. At the age of 23 he left Nottingham University to teach in an elementary school in Croydon. In 1909, his poems were submitted and accepted by an important literary magazine, The English Review. Afterwards, two publishers, Garnett and Hueffer, who later became Lawrence’s good friends, published The White Peacock, The Trespasser, Love Poems, and Sons and Lovers. Lawrence was, then, launched into the literary world during the 1920s. He was recognized almost at once as a young writer of great force and originality.

The first important period of his life ended with the death of his mother in 1910. The next phase began with his meeting Frieda Weekley Richthofen, daughter of a German baron, wife of a former professor and mother of three. In 1912, Frieda left her husband and three children and went with Lawrence to Metz, where her family lived. During this time, Lawrence was arrested on suspicion of being a spy for the British. Through the influence of Frieda’s father, Lawrence was released. About this time, Lawrence began work on The Rainbow (suppressed for a time by the police) and Women in Love. Lawrence considered these two novels to be his greatest achievement. After his marriage to Frieda in 1913 and their return to England, Lawrence’s writing began to show a great deal more sexual emphasis and a greater sense of maturity and conviction.

While living in England, Lawrence wrote a book of poems and also some travel impressions—Amores (the poems) and Twilight . . .

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