Oedipus Complex or Mother Fixation in Sons and Lovers

Question: Illustrate the term Oedipus Complex in the context of Sons and Lovers. Or, comment on the theme of mother fixation in Sons and lovers. Oedipus Complex or Mother Fixation in Sons and Lovers


“Sons and Lovers” by D. H. Lawrence (1885-1930) is a semi-biographical novel. Lawrence’s novel begins in1885 and ends in 1911. The long twenty-six years story rotates on the theme of the Oedipus Complex that is certainly a controversial concept.

The concept of the Oedipus complex

The Oedipal complex, also known as the Oedipus complex, is a term used by Sigmund Freud in his 1899 book “The Interpretation of Dreams”. In psychoanalytic theory, the term “Oedipus complex” refers to the desire to engage in sexual relations with parents of the opposite sex and the innate sense of hostility with parents of the same sex.

The symptom of the Oedipus Complex

Freud has suggested that the fervent possessiveness of the son over the mother and the daughter over the father is the symptom of the Oedipus complex. Similarly, excessive possessiveness of the mother over her son and the father over her daughter is the paradigm of this.

Source of Oedipus Complex in the novel

Gertrude Coppard, a physically beautiful and intellectual woman, was married to Walter Morel at the age of twenty-one. At first, they had a very happy bridal life but slowly Mrs. Morel began to feel frustrated with her husband’s illogical ways of life. Their endless quarrels alienated Mr. Morel, and he became a terror to the children. That is why Mrs. Morel focused on the sensitive fulfillment with the sons and turned them into alternative husbands. Thus, Lawrence scatters the message that chaotic issues in familial life produce the Oedipus Complex.

The Oedipus Complex in William

Unhappy with her marriage, Mrs. Morel first turned to William, who was the center of her affection and care. As a boy, William came to the fair and was very excited and gifted his mother the egg cups as a lover. This incident influenced his emotional development, and he mysteriously went against his own father. This also hindered his subsequent relationship with other women. As a result, William suffered from terrible spiritual agony and eventually died. Now it is obvious that the Oedipus Complex creates a dilemma.

The Oedipus Complex in Paul

The damaging influence of the mother-fixation in the story “Sons and Lovers” is not only confined to William. It extends more intensely in the case of Paul and in his relationship with Miriam and Clara. The poor health of Paul forced his mother to pay special attention to him. He was very much dependent on his mother and trotted after her like a shadow. Later, he is shown to love her like a lover. He watched every physical movement of his mother with delight. They are almost like lovers when they go out for walks. Now it is transparent that a mother should not always cross her limit.

Paul’s relationship with Miriam and Clara

Paul and Miriam love each other, but their relationship fails miserably. His deep attachment with his mother makes it impossible for him to think of having sexual relations with other women. In fact, he himself is averse to physical relations and when he does take Miriam physically, he is torn between his love for Miriam and his love for his mother.

Paul not only fails in his relationship with Miriam, but he also fails in his relationship with Clara. Though Clara only lays a claim on the physicality of Paul and leaves the rest for his mother, still their relationship ends in a fiasco.

The mother as a villain

Seeing Paul’s failure to build up relations with other women, one can conclude that Paul is not only spiritually involved with his mother, but he is also physically involved with her. Paul fails to preserve his relationship with Miriam because of spiritual cause. However, Clara does not become a rival to Mrs. Morel because she only needs sexual pleasure. But Paul fails to find the image of his mother in her. Paul is dissatisfied with Miriam and Clara but his interdependence with his mother never diminishes.


Thus, after a careful and intensive observation of the novel, we can conclude that the Oedipus complex illustrates the emotional stress of modern people’s sex life. And at the same time, Lawrence advises the parents around the world to treat naturally with their children so that they will never have to suffer as Paul did.

S Ridoy Kumar
S Ridoy Kumar
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