Summary of Sons and Lovers

In the field of English literature of the early twentieth century, is known by the name Sons and Lovers to a novel, born of the famous pen of the British writer D.H. Lawrence, which was first published in 1913, thanks to the work of the publishing Gerald Duckworth and Company.


About the work

According to the Critique, although Sons and Lovers constitute Lawrence’s third work in chronological order, it is actually conceived as his first great literary success, as well as the novel that would consecrate him as one of the best storytellers of the 20th century.

Ironically this was not so from the beginning, since in its early moments, Sons and lovers was even received with a certain apathy, which in some cases bordered on rejection, motivated by the scandal that produced some of his scenes of passion a little raised in tone for a rather conservative time.


Consequently, its publisher Edward Garnett could not avoid the scandal, even though he removed at least eighty passages from the novel, which was not published in its entirety, as originally conceived by its author until 1992. However, today it is considered a masterpiece of twentieth-century literature, and has even been singled out by the prestigious Modern Library as one of the hundred best novels written during this century, giving it the ninth place on its list.

With respect to the central theme of this novel by D.H. Lawrence can be said to be the Oedipus complex materialized in the paralyzing passion that a mother feels for her children, which of course does not materialize physically, but does not prevent each of the children must go through the possession of the mother, feel the terrible tension between her or the world, suffer the rupture to which she submits him when she knows that the child has known the passion in the arms of another woman who can possess it, and even run a fulminant fate: to die or to be left without the mother, because these are the only two solutions available to this complex, the only flight line capable of breaking the tension, and freeing those involved even if the desire is not fulfilled.

The vampire mother, who lets her passion and frustration flow over her child, anchoring herself to her neck, manipulating herself with her motherly love, keeping her hidden desire, and signaling her child to loneliness, in this life, or in the other.

Summary of Sons and Lovers

Secondly, as for the specific plot of this novel, it can basically be said that it is divided into two parts, each of which deals with the passionate relationship that a woman has with each of her children, whom she loves both as children, and as lovers, despite the fact that an incestuous situation never takes place with them, which does not prevent her from absorbing time, love, and even the life of each one of them.

In this way, at the moment of wanting to make a summary on this novel by D.H. Lawrence, perhaps the best thing is to approach separately each one of the parts in which this work is divided, as it will be done next:

Part I

Therefore, the first part of the plot presented by D.H. Lawrence in his novel Sons and Lovers presents the story of how Gertrude Coppard, a society lady meets a miner in a popular dance, with whom she falls hopelessly in love, and with whom she marries.

As time goes by, domestic problems, arising from the little money that comes from this man’s salary, as well as his impulsive and aggressive character, cause the relationship to fail, and everyone goes on with their lives, after accepting that what they have believed in love, was in reality simply a passing passion.

However, from these years of passion there remain two children, in whom Gertrude Coppard will take refuge with the same strength. First of all, she will love her eldest son, William, madly, and he will grow quite attached to his mother, developing an Oedipus, which never declares itself in this way either.

When William has grown up he decides to become independent, so he moves to London, leaving his loving mother alone. Even this new life has led him to meet a girl, of his class, with whom he has made a commitment, despite not being entirely pleased. However, the distance with the mother, and this romance, trigger a moment of rupture, materialized in the death of this young man, event that of course leaves the mother devastated.

Part II

With respect to the second part, this one begins when Gertrude Coppard stops in her feeling of mourning, to attend to her youngest son, Paul, who has fallen ill with a strong pneumonia. In the midst of this young boy’s convalescence, Gertrude realizes that she can also love this son madly, so she opens her heart to him.

For his part, Paul, who has grown up seeing the infinite love this woman had for her older brother William, at first rejects her, but this is only a recourse in self-defense, since in reality he loves his mother, even more than his brother William, to the point of even desiring her, a feeling which of course he does not explore or let run its course.

Like his brother, Paul begins to feel the desire to become independent and even to enter into a romantic relationship. This is how he first meets Miriam, then Clara, women he will be interested in. In fact, towards Clara she will begin to feel something really special, a feeling that will make her mother wage a quiet struggle to retain her child.

However, knowing he has to lose, he decides to die, right after Paul has decided to leave Clara. Consequently, this boy is left alone and helpless in the face of an inhospitable world, which has suddenly come out of its wits, presenting a dislocated reality in which Paul finds no possible grasp or understanding.

Image: portrait of D.H. Lawrence, author of Sons and Lovers / Source: wikimedia.org

Summary of Sons and Lovers
Source: Education  
October 31, 2019


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