Father Son Relationship in Sons and Lovers

Question: Discuss the father-son relationship in Sons and Lovers. Father Son Relationship in Sons and Lovers


“Sons and Lovers” is a novel by the English writer D. H. Lawrence (1885-1930) published in 1913. The central theme of the novel is the Oedipus complex. In psychoanalytic theory, the term “Oedipus complex” refers to the desire to engage in a sexual relationship with a parent of the opposite sex, and the innate sense of hostility with a parent of the same sex. Such type of sense has built a very bitter father-son affinity in the novel.

Development of hatred to father

In the novel, we see that Gertrude Coppard was attracted by Mr. Morel and married him. Initially, they lived a very happy conjugal life but slowly Mrs. Morel began to feel frustrated with her husband’s illogical way of life. Their endless quarrels alienated Mrs. Morel. As a result, the children developed sympathy for their mother and hatred towards their father. In particular, William and Paul show anger toward their father and fight comfortably on behalf of their mother.

Dual influences for bitter father-son affinity

Morel is kind and affectionate to his children when he is in a good mood though it is rare. Sometimes in the evenings when he asks his kids to help him tie the boots or fix the bottles of his peat. Sometimes Morel told stories to children in his fascinating ways. However, most of the time, children are afraid of him and his infertility gets on their nerves. As the father returns home, the family sinks into silence. Partly because of Morel’s attitude and partly because of his mother’s influence, children begin to see their father as an outsider.

The animosity between father and son

William is the eldest son of Mr. Morel. His relationship with his father is not so pleasant. His father’s violence and barbarism, lack of refinement, and drunkenness force him to hate his father. He witnesses the brutally violent treatment by holding his father’s hand when his father steps forward to beat his beloved mother. The result is that William sees his father with disbelief and hostility. Because his mother loved him so well, his father becomes red with jealousy. Once he found out that his father had hurt her mother, he threatened to beat him and probably did so if his mother did not prevent him. In this way, William openly demonstrates his enmity toward his father.

The rivalry between father and son

Mr. Morel’s second son, Paul, is also obsessed with his mother. So, it is natural for Paul to be disgusted with his father because of his father’s brutal treatment of his beloved mother. His hatred for his father becomes acute when Mr. Morel, rather than approving, tries to seize the prize that Paul had received at school. Mr. Morel is also apprehensive about some unfaithful relationship between the mother and the son. In the eighth chapter of the novel, when Mrs. Morel confesses to Paul that she never had a real husband, and Paul tries to comfort her by stroking and kissing. Mr. Morel came in right at this point and commented, “At your mischief again?” If Mr. Morel had not been senseless because of his excessive drinking, there would have been a fierce battle between father and son.

We can quote here from part two, chapter eight to prove further the rivalry between father and son.

 “I talk to her, but I want to come home to you.”

Mrs. Morel urges Paul not to have a romance with Miriam because she is terrified that he will leave him. Paul firmly claims that he loves his mother more than anyone else and they share a “long, passionate kiss” that further strengthens the novel’s Oedipal theme.


Thus, the father-son relationship in the novel is the relationship between hatred and hostility. Because of their sons’ mother-fixation, they begin to hate their father. For this unpleasant father-son relationship, Mrs. Morel’s excessive love for her sons is largely responsible, Mr. Morel’s unscrupulous behavior is also not least responsible.

S Ridoy Kumar
S Ridoy Kumar
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