Social Framework Analysis Through Oedipus Complex in Lawrence’s Sons & Lovers


  • Sultan Mahmood Niazi Department of English, Lahore Leads University - Lahore
  • Amara Faheem Department of English, Lahore Leads University - Lahore


Sons and Lovers, Ego, Dignity, Acceptance, Self-esteem


Sons and Lovers has always been posing problems for the teachers, during classroom critical discussions on the novel on account of its undue association with Freud’s concept of Oedipus complex and his focus on sexual instincts. Readers are forcibly led to the conclusion that there is convincing evidence of unconscious sexual attraction between Gertrude (the mother) and William and Paul (her sons) throughout the novel. The novel basically focuses on the individual’s mental and behavioral struggle to locate his own place in the social setup in pursuit of his dignity. An open-minded close examination of the novel makes one realize that it hardly deserves to be labeled as an illustration of Freud’s theory of Oedipus complex. Paul’s struggle for recognition and acceptance in the society is the central theme of the novel which puts him in trying conditions and relations and leaves him struggling to adjust his place in quest of self-esteem and recognition. The more he tries to get satisfaction, the more he becomes disillusioned. Consequently, dissatisfaction leads him to interact with different people and he experiences mal-adjustment. The object of this paper is to analyze Paul’s relations with other main characters in the novel in order to diagnose the cause of his discontentment in his relations with them. An attempt has been made to view his predicament in the light of psychological and social cross-currents that pervade his behavior through-out the novel Paul finds intellectual harmony with Miriam as her feelings match with those of his. Like Paul, she also wants to achieve something great. A cleavage occurs in their relationship when Miriam shows her reluctance to fulfill his carnal desires, as being unethical and contrary to her spiritual ideals. Paul’s sensual desires are fulfilled by Clara, a woman promising physical satisfaction but devoid of aesthetic sensibilities which again compel him to turn to some new destinations. A thorough analysis of the novel Sons and Lovers clearly reveals that there is very little influence of Oedipus complex while there is a strong chemical bond and natural affection between the mother and son which is a natural human instinct. Paul finds solace in the company of Gertrude simply on account of natural reasons and not for any amoral urge like Oedipus complex.