Study Guide

Sons and Lovers Men and Masculinity

By David Herbert (D.H.) Lawrence

Men and Masculinity

Just as Lawrence delves deeply into the realm of women and femininity, he also provides us with a sneak peek into men's heads. (Read on with interest, ladies.) Sons and Lovers tells us a lot about the kinds of ideas that float through guy's masculine brains—or, at least, the kinds that did back in early-20th-century Britain. Just as there are many different versions of femininity, there are many different versions of masculinity in this book. On the one hand, you have the abusive, alcoholic father, Walter Morel. On the other hand, you have the sensitive artist, Paul. But just as the women in this book are held back by their gender roles, the men are often victims of societal expectations.

Questions About Men and Masculinity

  1. What specific problems does Paul face as a sensitive little boy in this novel? How do his culture's expectations of masculinity influence his young life?
  2. How is Paul's failure to be with Miriam connected to or not connected to his masculine sense of pride?
  3. Do you think that Paul wants to sexually "conquer" Clara Dawes specifically because she's a feminist? Why or why not? What's D.H. Lawrence's view on all of this, do you think?

Chew on This

In Sons and Lovers, Lawrence uses Paul and Miriam's failed relationship to point to basic failures in traditional gender roles.

The various models of masculinity and femininity in Sons and Lovers suggest that gender arises more from social training than from biology.