S&L was written exactly 14 years after Sigmund Freud published his magnum opus Interpretation of dreams where he propounded the concept of Oedipus complex , psychoanalytically a dynamic emotionality and possessiveness of a child to its parent of the opposite sex and vice versa.
As per the proponents of the Freudian psychoanalysis, Oedipus complex is construed as repressed sexuality. Its prevalence in human society is argued by the Pro-Freudian modern psychologists as the reason for idealization of man –women marital relationship to that of a parent- child relationship syndrome, creating a structured identity complex among men and women in their married lives leading to divorces and unhappy marriages.
In S&L, Lawrence propounds over this theme by his intellectual subtlety through the portrayal of the protagonists Paul Morel and his mother Gertrude Morel. Mrs Morel had a terrible relationship with her husband , a collier, who gave her seven children and paltry income to survive. Mrs Morel being from the higher class was magnanimous in her character and behaviour and she was able to bring up the children against the vicissitudes caused by a drunken miserable husband who gave her no love and care. The struggles of a mother in a post industrialized 19th century England - a time in English society where marriage was considered sacrosanct and no scope and means for separation – is vividly portrayed in this novel. As time passes, Mrs Morel develops a strong bonding with her son Paul , which gets reflected in her annoyance to the passionate relationship Paul have with two other women in her life, Miriam and Clara. Paul on the other side realize that there is nothing beyond passion that his lovers could give him and breaks off from them with a conclusion that true love of man is always with his mother.
The Novel is autobiographical in nature as Paul is the characterization of Lawrence himself when he was torn between his love for his mother and his passionate relationship with his lovers Jessie chambers and later Frieda weekly (subsequently Lawrence married Frieda).
In India, characterization of the relationship complexity of a man with his mother on one side and his sexual partner (Read wife or lover) on the other side is the basis of all Sas-Bahu serials and Lawrence’s theme is relevant in today’s Indian society as well. Ask any man and women married in a traditional Indian set up on this proclivity and they would have something to say.
Is the miserable Indian male getting strained in between true love and passion with an Oedipus complex is not the purvey of this writing nor I intend to pursue further on this speculation, but the novel is 100 times worth reading on its hundredth year of publication…. A free downloadable version is available in Kindle.. good readingSanyasi