Paul’s Relationship with Clara in Sons and Lovers
Lawrence Sons and Lovers EssaysPaul’s Relationship with Clara in Sons and Lovers
Paul’s relationship with Clara is based on passion. Her womanliness impresses him from the first time that they meet and throughout their relationship. Since Paul has never had any sexual experiences Clara amazes him thoroughly because she is so sensual, unlike Miriam who is afraid of any physical contact and his mother who is not in a position to offer him such things. During their relationship, Paul matures from a boy into a man not only physically but also mentally. Sadly, due to their age difference and their different perceptions of life, their relationship falls apart. Another great reason for the failure of their relationship is the fact that Clara is married.
When Paul had to go to Willey farm to meet Clara he was very excited even though at that stage of his life he was seeing Miriam; “Evidently his eagerness to be early today had been the new-comer” (p.269). Not only was he eager to meet her but “There was something he hankered after”, whenever he heard Miriam speak about Clara he “rouse” and would get “slightly angry” (p.268). When he entered the parlour the first thing he noticed was “the nape of her white neck, and the fine hair lifted from it” (p.269). Unlike him, Clara was quite indifferent towards Paul in the beginning: “She rose, looking at him indifferently” (p.269). It is rather curious how in the beginning Paul is obsessed with Clara’s body: “He noticed how her breasts swelled inside her blouse, and how her shoulder curved handsomely under the thin muslin at the top of her arm”, while she in a way was annoyed by him: “She did not mind if he observed her hands. She intended to scorn him” (p.270). He was self-conscious in her presence while she most of the time acted as if he was not there: “Paul was rather self-conscious because he knew Clara could see if she looked out the window. She didn’t look” (p.272). Paul is not only attracted by Clara, but he is also curious to find out about her since he has never met a woman like her before: “A hot wave went over Paul. He was curious about her” (p. 277). He is not sure about what he wants in the beginning for he believes that unlike Miriam Clara is not deep and thus does not want to absorb him, but due to the fact that Clara did not seem to take much interest in him, he stayed with Miriam. His major concern though at that time was that he wanted and needed physical relationship as well: “Often, as he talked to Clara Dawes, came that thickening and quickening of his blood, that peculiar concentration in the breast, as if something were alive there, a new self or a new centre of consciousness, warning him that sooner or later he would have to ask one woman or another” (p.294).
Paul and Clara’s relationship developed into a `friendship’ at the beginning and “owing to his acquaintance with Clara” he had “more or less got into connection with the socialist, sufferagette, unitarian people in Nottingham” (p.301). Thus their relationship helped make Paul more open-minded and more social. Till this point in their `friendship’ there were no signs of anything more than friendship. The first such sign is made by Clara when Paul goes to her house to deliver a message. When Clara opened the door and saw Paul “she flushed deeply” and was ” much embarrassed” (p.301). This was attributed to her home’s condition, which she considered miserable. Once they were comfortable enough with the home condition Mrs. Radford, Clara’s mother, told Paul that Clara would like to go back and work at Jordan’s and he “experienced a thrill of joy, thinking she might need his help” (p.304). Paul is excited by the idea that not only would he help her get the job but also by the fact that he would be able to see more of her. But when she did come to work at Jordan’s he felt how he could not concentrate in her presence because “although she stood a yard away, he felt as if he were pressed against her, and was full of warmth” (p.306) and this he disliked. On the other hand “there was a sense of mystery about her” (p.306) and he found her provocative “because of the knowledge she seemed to possess, and gathered fruit of experience he could not attain” (p.307). She too hated him at times and was extremely jealous of his friendship with the other girls at Jordan’s but “the blithe ignorance in which he trespassed through her private places disarmed her anger” (p.314). She would “smile at him, inwardly” but she would always keep in mind that he was such “a young boy” (p.314). But even though both of them considered each other only friends the volume of verse that Clara gave Paul for his birthday “brought them closer into intimacy” (p.317). When he opened the present “He was suddenly intensely moved. He was filled with warmth of her. In the glow, he could almost feel her as if she were present, her arms, her shoulders, her bosom, see them, feel them, almost contain them” (p.316-317). Although Paul feels like this about Clara he does not know what he wants and cannot interpret his feelings, “he believed in simple friendship. And he considered that he was perfectly honorable with regard to her. It was only friendship between man and woman, such as any civilised persons might have” (p.319). Also due to the fact that he does not know what he wants he denied the fact that he desired Clara: “He grew warm at the thought of Clara, he battled with her, he knew the curves of her breasts and shoulders as if they were moulded inside him. And yet he did not positively desire her. He would have denied it for ever. He believed himself really bound to Miriam” (p.319). Clara understood his confusion and told him to try and give his relationship with Miriam another try. “He pondered over this” (p.321) and in the end took her advice and went back to Miriam.
The relationship between him and Miriam did not work out once again, and “After leaving Miriam he went almost straight to Clara” (p.347). They very soon realised that “They had grown very intimate, unawares” and that there was “a sort of secret understanding between them” (p.347). Whenever he touched her “his whole body was quivering with sensation” (p.347) and when they were apart he could not wait to see her again: “He was in a delirium. He felt that he would go mad if Monday did not come at once. On Monday he would see her again” (p.348). The most important `walk’ of their relationship is when they went to the Trent. On the way there Paul hardly constrained himself not to kiss her and he felt like “he was not himself, he was some attribute of hers, like the sunshine that fell on her” (p.351). Once at the Trent they could not stop touching and kissing each other:
“Her mouth was offered to him, and her throat, her eyes
were half shut, her breast was tilted as if it asked for him.
He flashed with a small laugh, shut his eyes, and met
her with a long, whole kiss. Her mouth fused with his,
their bodies were sealed and annealed. It was some
minutes before they withdrew” (p.353).
Both of them could not get enough of each other, “She looked at him, leaving herself in his hands” (p.353). Paul led her to a quite place were “two beech trees side by side on the hill held a little level on the upper face, between their roots” (p.355) and as he led her there “His heart beat thick and fast” (p.354). Once they reached the place “He held her fast as he looked round. They were safe enough from all but the small, lonely cows over the river. He sunk his mouth on her throat, where he felt her heavy pulse beat under his lips. Everything was perfectly still. There was nothing in the afternoon but themselves” (p.355). After this sexual experience “He was madly in love with her: every movement she made, every crease in her garments sent a hot flash through him and seemed adorable” (p.356). And in a way Paul was very proud that she was his: “His pride went up as he walked with her. He felt the station people, who knew him, eyed her with awe and admiration” (p.363). Paul at last decided that it was time to introduce Clara to his family. She was warmly received when she went, and she “felt she completed the circle, and it was a pleasure to her. But she was rather afraid of the self-possession of the Morels, father and all” (p.367). Clara enjoyed herself but “there was a fear deep at the bottom of her” as she realised how much of her Paul possessed and how obsessed with him she was: “it was torture not to be able to follow him down the garden” (p.367).
When both of them were in the garden Miriam came, and the way Clara spoke about her after she had left made him furious. Clara seeing this tells him, “You’d better run after Miriam” (p.371). This enraged him even more and he aggressively and passionately started kissing her but she determined to catch the last train told him to stop. Once she got on the last train “He was gone. She felt the cruelty of it” (p.373). This is how their relationship continued from then on with a lot of passion and less understanding. Both of them could not allow themselves this relationship, Clara is a married woman and her obsession with Paul hurts her and he feels that he cannot possess all of her wants even more from her. The evening after they went to the theater showed the decline of their relationship, even being with one another was “intense almost to agony” (p.383). Even after this evening their relationship continued declining as they realised that they did not have the same definition of love and the same feelings for each other. During one night of passion Clara realised that there was something great between them but “it did not keep her” (p.398).
“In the morning it was not the same. They had known –
but she could not keep the moment, she wanted it
again, she wanted something permanent, she had not
realised fully. She thought it was he whom she wanted.
He was not safe to her. This that had been between
them might never be again. He might leave her. She
had not got him. She was not satisfied. She had been there,
but she had not gripped the – the something, she knew
not what, which she was mad to have” (p.398).
Paul as well realised this: “It seemed as if he had known the baptism of fire in passion, and it left him at rest. But it was not Clara. It was something that happened because of her, but it was not her” (p.399). Here is where the informal end of their relationship is. Clara realises that she wants something permanent, a relationship that she can be sure of; she achieves this later when she returns to her husband. Paul here too realises that he does not love Clara and that she is not the one for him, she proves this by telling him that she will not divorce Baxter and that he belongs to her. “But she never believed that her life belonged to Paul Morel, nor his to her. They would separate in the end, and the rest of her life would be an ache after him” (p.405). In the end both of them realised that a future between them was impossible: “Each wanted a mate to go side by side with” (p.405).