The children in "Sons and lovers" by DH Lawrence and "What massie Knew "by Henry James

Essay by Anonymous UserUniversity, Bachelor'sB-, March 1996

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The characters in Sons and Lovers by D. H. Lawrence

and the characters in What Maisie Knew each have a special

meaning. They all seem to be interwoven with one another

portraying a new cycle in another characters life. For

instance, in What Maisie Knew Mrs. Wix was introduced, in

my opinion, at a time when Maisie needed a mother figure.

Also, Sir Claude is introduced when she seems to need a

father figure. On the other hand, in Sons and Lovers there

are not very many new characters introduced. However, the

ones that are introduced seem to want to try and break the

bond that Paul and his mother have. Thus, James and Law¬

rence seem to be using similar themes with different

surroundings and events. Although the circumstances are

different, Henry James and D. H. Lawrence characterize the

children as being Impoverished.

Henry James in his novel What Maisie Knew , portrays

the main character, Maisie, as being impoverished

emotionally. The emotional poverty that Maisie experiences

in her life exist because of her parents extremely vicious

hatred for each other. They use Maisie as a "vessel for

bitterness" (13). To Beale and Ida, Maisie was just a tool

that they used to hurt the other person. Eventually,

Maisie figured out that they were using her to be the

bearer of brutily hateful messages. Consequently, she

learned not to deliver such messages. This made her

parents very angry and they decided that she had "grown

incredably dull". Thus, Maisie realized "They had wanted

her not for any good they could do her, but for harm they

could, with her unconscious aid, do each other."

Unfortunately, Maisie's emotions were of no concern to

either parent. As a result, Maisie seldom experienced any

meaningful affection from either of her parents.

Furthermore, on the rare occasions when Maisie's mother

embraced her it was performed without any affection, or it

is so convulsive that it makes her feel as though "she had

suddenly been thrust, with a smash of glass, into a

jeweller's shop-front..." (112 Lawrence). Likewise,

Maisie's father subjects her to emotional neglect by

reminding her that everything had "changed on her account,

everything ordered to enable him to give himself up to

her." (17). This, in my opinion, was Beales way of telling

Maisie that she was a bother to him, thus, she is

unconsciously informed that she is not wanted. The

emotional poverty that Maisie lives with makes her feel

that her parents made "it hurt more than usual" (17).

Consequently, Maisie's fate is sealed. Unconsciously she

knows what is about to happen and she will have to live

with the pain of knowing that her parents did not want her,

thus, allowing others to raise the child. Similarly, D.

H. Lawrence, in his novel Sons and Lovers, portrays the

main character, Paul, as being emotionally poor.

Emotionally, Paul is impoverished because of his feelings

for his mother. The passion they feel for each other is,

in my opinion, an emotional incest. They act more as

lovers than they do mother and son. For instance, when

they were out together his mother felt like "she was gay,

like a sweetheart", and, Paul felt his "heart contract with

pain of love for her" (Lawrence ). Because of this passion

Paul does not allow himself to leave his mother.

Eventually, when Mrs. Morel tells Paul that she "never

really had a husband...", Paul starts assuming the mental

role of the husband. Consequently, this mental action of

being a husband to his mother, destroys any emotional

relationships Paul tries to have with other women. For

example, He is in love with Miriam, but, in my opinion , he

feels that she cannot fufill him like his mother does.Also,

he trys to have a relationship with Mrs. Dawes, however it

seems to be more sexual and he helps her get back together

with her husband. As a result, He feels that no woman can

match up to his mother. Therefore, he has decided that he

is unable to meet the right woman as long as she is alive.

As a result, Paul promises never to leave his mother.

Therefore, like Maisie, Paul's fate is sealed. He will be

destin to live a life of emotional poverty until his mother

dies. When she dies Paul will then be able to take on a

normal relationship with a female.

In conclusion, The characters are in an emotional

poverty caused by their parents inability to recognize that

what they are doing is hurting their children emotionally.

Lawrence and James choose to write this way so that it

reflects the moral sense as well as the fate of the moral

sense in a corrupt and sinister world. The moral sense is

the conscious which is reflected through Maisie and Paul.

The characters that represent the consciousness seem to be

full of unconditional love. For instance, when Maisie's

parents abandon her, she seems to get angry, however, she

also seems to be happy. Also Paul seems to get angry at

his mother for having such control over him, and, at the

same time he feels a deep passionate love for her. James

and Lawrence, in my opinion, are trying to get the readers

drawn into the book and their own conscious mind. Thus,

making them more aware of their thoughts and surroundings.