Psychoanalytical and Feminist approaches to D. H. Lawrence's Sons and Lovers

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Psychoanalytical and Feminist approaches to D. H. Lawrence's Sons and Lovers

Psychoanalytical and feminist approaches are two relatively recent critical responses towards literary texts. When applied to D. H. Lawrence's Son's and Lovers, both can be insightful yet problematic at the same time.

The theories of psychoanalysis, primarily identified with Sigmund Freud, can be applied to imaginative literature and art in general, in order to study their manifest and latent content, in the same way as Freud studied dreams. Literature clearly lends itself to such a study, since, like dreams, the most significant meaning often lies below the conscious surface narrative of a text. Feminist approaches towards literature are concerned with
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I could let another woman but not her. She'd leave me no room, not a bit of room '
And immediately he hated Miriam bitterly.
'And I've never you know, Paul I've never had a husband not really '
He stroked his mother's hair, and his mouth was on her throat.
(Lawrence, 1994, p. 212)

Not only does she invite Paul to occupy the place of her husband, but she accuses Miriam of the same possessive love with which she smothers Paul. At the end of the chapter, Paul echoes Hamlet, another exemplary Oedipal victim, when he tries to persuade his mother not to sleep with his father. At this point in the novel, the presence of an Oedipus complex in Paul is so patent that one can hardly consider it as a submerged theme. Looked at another way, a major theme of the book is the gradual awakening of Paul to the deadly effects of his Oedipal fixation on his mother. The penultimate chapter, tellingly called 'The Release,' shows how Paul comes to reverse the Oedipal desire to kill the father by administering an overdose to his mother. One could say that he has finally learnt to direct his anger outwards to its source.

A weakness of the psychoanalytic approach is the tendency to be too selective when choosing evidence from the texts to support the theories. Most interpretations of Sons and Lovers polarise Miriam and Clara as the

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