As the title suggests, Sons and Lovers focuses primarily on sons, not daughters. Nonetheless, the book still delves deeply into questions of femininity, and how women are supposed to act. In it, Lawrence provides us with different models of what a woman can be like, from the battle-hardened Mrs. Morel to the spiritual and somewhat naïve Miriam. What many of these models boil down to, though, is the (then?) timely conflict over whether or not to be submissive to a man.
Questions About Women and Femininity
Do you approve of Miriam Leivers' brand of femininity? Is she too submissive? Is she too full of herself? Can she be both? Use specific examples from the text to support your answer.
In what ways has English culture in 1913 let down women like Gertrude Morel, Clara Dawes, and Miriam Leivers? What aspirations has a man's world kept these women from fulfilling?
How does Paul react when Miriam expresses frustration about her place in the world as a woman? Does he agree with her, or does he think that things aren't so bad for women?
Why do other women always want to bring down Mrs. Morel, Miriam, or Clara for thinking that they're superior? Is this concern over acting all superior something that Lawrence associates with male-female dynamics in general?
Chew on This
In Lawrence's view, the greatest enemies of women are often other women.
Sons and Lovers is a sexist book because it presents a negative view of Clara Dawes' feminist politics, and a positive view of Miriam's submissiveness to men.