Research on D.H Lawrence's Sons and Lovers as a Psychological Novel

Sunday, July 24, 2016

This paper deals with D.H Lawrence's Sons and Lovers (1913) which is a psychological novel. By definition, a psychological novel is “a work of fiction in which the thoughts, feelings, and motivations of the characters are of equal or greater interest than is the external action of the narrative” (psychological novel, Encyclopedia Britannica). In a psychological novel, there is an influence of emotional reactions regarding the personality of the individual. The novel was written in Modernism which is considered as one of the most important periods in English literature because it is different from the preceding periods. It cannot be said that there is an exact predominant philosophy in this age due to the diverse of views and ideas. Modernism as a literary movement reached its height in Europe between 1900 and the middle 1920s.

The horrors of World War I (1914-19), became the catalyst for the Modernist movement in literature and art. Modernist writers felt betrayed by the war, believing the institutions where which they were taught to believe had led the civilized world into a bloody conflict. Thus, the history of the movement began by the effect of the World War I and also by the World War II. On one hand, World War I has inspired great novels, drama and poetry. During the war itself, it has been estimated that thousands of poems were written every day by combatants and their relatives. During the war many of the combatants published trench magazines, most of them for an audience in a particular division or unit. On the other hand, World War II had enormous impact on American writing, as did many of the other events of mid and late twentieth-century America (explosion of the Atomic bomb in 1945, the emergence of television as a cultural force, the invention and growing dominance of computers, the Civil Rights movement of the 50s and 60s, Korean and Vietnam wars, the feminist movement of the 60s and 70s).

Freud and Nietzsche have great influence on the Modernism movement. Freud's theories influenced the writers of the modern age. For instance, Freud's theory of the Oedipus complex assumed that infants love the opposite-sex parent and hate the same-sex parent. The feelings of love and hate change as the child grows, but the original feelings of hate for the same-sex parent and love for the opposite-sex parent still remain in the unconscious mind of adults. The novelists were shocked by his interpretations, in addition to the scientific and industrial revolution that made man think again about the secret of his existence. As for Nietzsche, his philosophies were representative of the concerns and uncertainly of the modernist artists. According to him, to truly realize oneself, you must break free, denounce this imposed morality and search deep inside to develop into your own person.  Thus, his philosophy pervades modern culture that many who have never read him are influenced by his thought indirectly.

The characteristics of Modernism in literature reflect the essence of this psychological age. For instance, one of the most important techniques that have an impact on the reader is the stream of consciousness. Also, there are some manifestations of new approaches in modernist fiction, such as the lack of plot cohesion with sudden climactic turning points, the chronological leaps in time and the open, unresolved endings. As for the stream of consciousness, which moves by the logic of the unconsciousness, spread over the twentieth century and particularly the modernist epoch in which the psychological novel flourished. It is a natural product of the 20th century, as it appeared before World War I. Both Dorothy Richardson in England, James Joyce in Ireland and Proust in France are considered the pioneers of the psychological novel. Virginia Woolf has developed this new technique and added a new shape and system to it. D. H. Lawrence focused on the inner thoughts and relationships among characters and this focus is considered “a deeper and more powerful current than the stream of consciousness itself” (Black, Michael D.H. Lawrence, the early fiction: a commentary 247).

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