How is Mrs. Morel presented in Chapter One of Sons and Lovers? The first chapter begins with a description of the neighborhood of “The Bottoms,” the miners’ dwellings in which the Morel’s live. The Morel’s consist primarily in the first chapter of, Gertrude and Walter Morel, and their son William. Before we are even introduced to Mrs. Morel, the description that D. H. Lawrence gives in the opening few pages is enough for the reader to graft an opinion. Lawrence firstly writes that Mrs. Morel “descended” to the Bottoms from Bestwood.
This creates the impression that she deems herself above everyone who lives in the area; this is a very pompous attitude to have from the outset. Further on, we are told how Mrs. Morel enjoys living on the end house in her street because “her rent was five shillings and sixpence instead of five shillings a week”. Mrs. Morel is portrayed as arrogant and snobby in the first few descriptions as it comes across that because she has money, she is better than the residents of “middle houses”. Further on in the novel we discover the “real” Mrs. Morel and how her mind works.
Critics have even pointed out that Lawrence’s characters are that absorbing it is “easy to become immersed in their emotions”. When alone, Mrs. Morel seeks nature as an “escape” from her busy life with her two children. It is when she is alone that her emotions are set free for the reader to enjoy. Lawrence describes that Mrs. Morel is waiting “at least” until William grew up to be free and feel worthy. This suggests that she is very unhappy with the repetitive life she lives in the Bottoms as a stay-at-home wife and wishes for something more to fulfill her.
This thought was common for many women at the time this novel was written as soon after came the Suffragette movement. The Suffragettes were a group of women who fought for equal rights between men and women. Mrs. Morel narrates throughout how if she were a man “nothing would stop me”. Critics envision that is likely if Mrs. Morel had been around the time of the Suffragettes movement, she without a doubt would have been involved. Dramatized episodes are used throughout Sons and Lovers as a way of letting the reader into the characters lives through narrative and speech.
They also let the reader choose which character to empathize with, without any bias opinions from either husband or wife. During the novel, our feelings for Walter and Gertrude change rapidly as we sympathize for each character depending on the episodes situation. Moving on, we learn more about the confusing twists and turns of the Morel’s relationship as the novel advances. When reciting how the couple first met, Lawrence repeatedly writes how Mr. Morel was the opposite of Mrs. Morel. But more interestingly, he writes that Walter had a “gamboling” sense of humor, which is extremely juxtaposing to the “satire” humor that is described of Mrs.
Morel’s father. This link between husband and father-in-law is explored further as Mrs. Morel makes comparisons between the two. An example of this is how George Coppard is written to despise all types of “sensuous pleasure” whereas Walter is displayed as being a “sensuous flame”. Is this just a coincidence that the same words were used? I think not. Lawrence makes concealed connections through the novel as a way to make sure that he is always one step ahead of the reader- preventing any guessing about how the novel will end.
The huge differences between Walter and George seem to pose as an even bigger attraction for Mrs. Morel. Many critics suggest that this is because of the huge differences between them that she finds new and “intriguing” to the secure and sheltered life she lives. I believe that choosing Mr. Morel as a husband is a way for her to rebel in society and finally start to discover who she really is as she has “never met anyone like him” before in the middle-class life she lived. However it is this ignorance to other classes that causes a class divide which eventually causes huge communication problems in their relationship.
Cracks in their relationship start to show as communication starts to slow down because of the class divide. Mrs. Morel finds herself speaking to her husband but “without understanding” intellectually on his behalf, which causes a lack of intimacy also. However critics question whether the real problem that Mrs. Morel lets the divide rule her relationship with her husband? Finally, Mrs. Morel is presented as being shockingly controlling over her husband, and eventually her whole family. Lawrence displays this control when Mr. Morel cuts William’s hair without Mrs.
Morel’s consent. When Mrs. Morel discovers this, she cries “painfully”. This shows the real sense of control she feels over her husband, enough to dictate what his actions should be and whether they are right or wrong. However, many critics dig deeper into this and feel that the hair-cutting scenario has a concealed meaning. Many feel that Mrs. Morel cries “painfully” because she suspects that her husband is trying to craft her son to be more like him. They conclude that she grows her son’s hair in the hope that he would become more like her and not her “miner” husband.
I feel that not only does she do it as a way to control her family, but also as a way of rebelling against society by letting her son grow feminine “twining wisps of hair”. Acts of rebellion seem to be a common feature of Mrs. Morel; with the marriage to her complete opposite being one of them. On a whole, I believe that Mrs. Morel is presented as being shown in many different lights depending on the situation. However, it is striking that she feels the need to control every aspect of her and her family’s life, possibly as an escape because she feels she has no control or freedom in her own life.