The children in Sons and Lovers by D. H. Lawerence
and What Maisie Knew by Henry James
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.