Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

James Hellman, George McCelvey, Charmaine Mosby

Degree Program

Department of English

Degree Type

Master of Arts


The growth of an individual into mature selfhood is the primary basis of the Lawrentian relationship. Lawrence describes a mystical kind of rebirth of the self into a deeper level of the unconscious. He says that one should explore the impulses and desires of the unconscious in order to find a deeper, more fulfilled self. Ursula of The Rainbow and Paul of Sons and Lovers are the characters who most successfully begin this growth into separate selfhood.

According to Lawrence the journey into the unconscious is to be accomplished through sensual experiences. He mistrusts the intellect because he feels that the mind distorts reality. The bodily sensations are more concrete, and therefore more real. Lawrence demonstrates in Walter Morel of Sons and Lovers, Birkin and Ursula of Women in Love, and Connie and Mellors of Lady Chatterley's Lover that spontaneous, sensual experiences are necessary to live a fully sensual life.

For Lawrence, the failure to discover the deepest, sensual self results in the need to control others. Characters who embrace abstract intellectualism and modern industrialism are the ones who attempt to force every living thing into submission to their egos. The compulsion to dominate others gives the characters a temporary feeling of fulfillment but is ultimately destructive. Gertrude, Miriam, Gerald, and Hermione are destructive characters who strive to control others. They are weak and dependent, needing another person's strength of self to feel complete.

The acknowledgement of a separate self is crucial to Lawrence's philosophy of relationships. According to his philosophy a person discovers the separate, fundamental self at the unconscious level through sensual experiences. Abstract intellectualism and industrialism are responsible for causing man's alienation from himself; his failure to discover and acknowledge a deeper self generates destructiveness which is manifested in his domination of other living beings.


Arts and Humanities | English Language and Literature | Literature in English, British Isles