Answer: David Herbert Lawrence is a great novelist of human psychology. He has a wide knowledge of human character. He has drawn many distinguishing characters in his novel. The relationship between Paul and his mother is a case of “Oedipus Complex”.
“Oedipus Complex” is a phrase. It means the excessive affection of a child for the parent of the opposite sex to him or herself. Actually, it is a theory invented by a modern psychologist, Sigmund Freud. In other words, it means that a mother’s love for her son and a son’s love for his mother are fundamentally based upon the attraction between opposite sexes. According to an ancient myth, a man called Oedipus had killed his father and married his mother. But in the case of that myth, Oedipus had performed both those deeds in complete ignorance of his relationship with the man whom he killed and the woman whom he married. In the final moment, we come to know that the man he killed was his father and the woman he married was his mother. The nature of Paul’s relationship with his mother reflects “Oedipus Complex” in this novel.
William had been Mrs. Morel’s favorite son. She had been lavishing all her love and affection upon him. She had been cherishing high ambitions about his future. She had been feeling very proud of him. Especially she had felt proud when he got a job in London on a decent salary. She felt a little disappointed when he fell in love with a superficial girl, Lily Western. William had loved his mother deeply too. He London had been very fond of her. That is why; when he had gone to London he kept writing loving letters to beet. Now, the love between William and Mrs. Morel was not a case of ordinary love between a mother and her son. The William’s as an example of “Oedipus Complex”.
After the death of her oldest son, Paul becomes the focus of her life. But Paul has a love relationship with Miriam. Mrs. Morel does not tolerate (bear) the absorbing nature of Miriam. Mrs. Morel thinks that she is becoming neglected by her son Paul because of his relationship with Miriam. Paul’s mother cannot bear it in any way. At that time, Paul tries to console his mother by telling that he loves his mother not Miriam. His home with his mother is the real centre of attraction. But his mother cannot understand it. She again and again tells that she cannot bear it at any cost. Even she says that she can let another woman for her son but not Miriam because she leaves no room, but a bit of room for Mrs. Morel. Here this extract shows the Oedipus complex. Here Paul’s love with Miriam is neglected by his mother because his mother does not let it and cannot bear it. About Miriam Mrs. Morel says:
“I can’t bear it. I could let another woman- but not her-she’d leave me no room, not a bit of room.”
Paul’s excessive love for his mother and her excessive love for him did not mean that there were no differences of opinion between them and that there were no conflicts of any kind between them. A complete identification between any two human beings is impossible. The major difference between Paul and his mother related to Miriam. Paul had fallen in love with Miriam but his mother did not like her. On various occasions Paul asked his mother why she such could not bear Miriam. His mother always told him that Miriam was not the right kind of girl for him. This answer would not satisfy him. On such occasions he would therefore begin to hate her mother. This fact would not be ignored. It was a part of “Oedipus Complex”.
Similarly, Mrs. Morel’s love for Paul had an element of anguish in it, because she was all the time feeling uneasy over the thought that Paul was wasting his time and energy over the wrong girl. Later, Mrs. Morel wanted Paul to give up his friendship even with Clara because Clara was a married woman. Paul had developed a sexual relationship with Miriam; but he could not discuss this matter with his mother. At the same time, he had developed a sexual relationship with Clara; he could not discuss the subject with his mother. It was another part of “Oedipus Complex”.
There is another touch of “Oedipus Complex” in Paul’s love relationship with his mother. His love for her even proved an obstacle in the way of his loving any other woman in a normal manner. When she felt ill, he again showed extraordinary devotion to her. During her illness he had no peace of mind at all. Tears would flow from his eyes when he saw her suffering. And she would always urge him not to shed tears. He spoke to Clara about his mother’s lingering illness. The longer the illness continued, the greater was Paul’s misery. All day long he was very worried about his mother. It was a long pain which made him feel feverish. He often addressed his mother as “Pigeon” and “my Little”, as if she were his sweetheart and sweet lover. The phrase “Oedipus Complex” correctly describes Paul’s attitude towards his mother.
Thus the days passed, the weeks, and the months. When his mother died, Paul felt that his life is empty and meaningless. It was with a great effort that he was able to persuade himself that his mother was still alive, though she was now living in another world. It was because of the feeling that his mother was still sharing his life that he was able to reconcile himself to his existence. It was because of this feeling that he was able to make up his mind to strive to achieve something. It was this feeling which saved him from despair and from suicide.
To sum up, we may safely be said that “Oedipus Complex” is a leading theme of this novel. In this novel, the novelist has concentrated his attention largely on the relationship between Paul and his mother. Actually, the novelist has not invented this relationship; he has only described his own experience with his mother. Paul is D H. Lawrence himself; and Paul’s mother is Lawrence’s own mother. So we may say that the central theme ofSons and Lovers may best be described as “Oedipus Complex”.