Sons and Lovers

Parental and Romantic Relationships in Sons and Lovers 12th Grade

Psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud theorized that as a manifestation of the Oedipus Complex, people tend to choose partners who share physical features and personality traits with their opposite-sex parent. The bond between lovers can only be rivaled by the bond between parent and child; therefore, these two types of relationships are inherently connected. In his novel, Sons and Lovers, D.H. Lawrence explores the link between parental and romantic relationships. His characters pick significant others who are different from their parents, challenging Freud’s theory. However, each of these characters eventually loses interest in his/her partner, conveying the idea that successful romantic relationships must be modeled after maternal and paternal relationships.

First and foremost, Gertrude’s marriage to Walter Morel is a result of her resentment towards her father. Because her father treats her mother poorly, Gertrude believes that she needs a partner whose personality contrasts with his. Lawrence describes the differences between Gertrude’s father and husband, stating, “And George Coppard, proud in his bearing, handsome, and rather bitter; who preferred theology in reading. . . who ignored all sensuous pleasure:-- he was very different...

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