D. H.Lawrence’s Treatment of Nature in "Sons and Lovers"

D. H. Lawrence has evinced his deep love for nature in Sons and Lovers. In the village, in the lush green bosom of nature, Lawrence spent his boyhood or early days. He had a close contact with nature and an intense longing for natural objects. Because of his close and intimate association with natural objects and surrounding, nature did hunt his imagination to a great extent and it does explain why Lawrence possessed almost a poetic sensibility with regard to his delineation of nature. It is admittedly true that the setting of the novel i.e. Bentwood is a mining town. Also it is indubitably true that own was very much close to the world of nature. The characters or people figuring in the novel are not immune from the world of nature. They, of course, live in an artificial set-up or environment of society. Industrialization or more precisely machination was indeed exerting its silting influences o the refined feelings and sentiments of the people. But nevertheless the characters of the novel live and breathe, mingle and jostle together in a surrounding which is in closer proximity to the world of nature. It was indeed the countryside which enkindled the fancy of Lawrence; and almost all the science, surcharged with emotional profundity are set in the background of nature. The untarnished beauty and uncontaminated freshness of nature environment have accentuated and heightened the feelings and emotions of the characters. The intensity and poignancy of the feelings of the characters may aptly be attributed to this background of nature.

Lawrence had an intimate relationship with nature and that is why he has exhibited an unfailing and accurate observation of nature in the novel. He has etched the variegated objects and multifarious phenomena of nature with the flawless precision of a painter. His minute observation of nature and his keen sense of colour enabled him to create exquisitely beautiful séance which are in the midst of nature. The rice variety of color in the world of the nature inspired Lawrence to delineate the praise beauty of each object of nature. His faculty for painting runs riot in the world of flora and fauna. He has mentioned each and every object of nature with its specific hue and aroma, its particular beauty and dour. He was not content with stating the object; he went to the extent of specifying names of the objects-an ‘aster’, a ‘Scylla’ or a ‘celandine’.

D. H. Lawrence
In the wonted vein of the Pre-Raphaelite poets, Lawrence has given highly poetical and colorful accounts of the diverse aspects of nature. His description is marked by diverse aspects of nature. His description is marked by a singular beauty and a richness of poetic quality. The following vivid account to the sun-set is a clear pointer to Lawrence’s keen sense of colour and profound descriptive power:

 “The sun was going down. Every open evening the hills of Derbyshire were blazed over with red sunset. Mrs. Morel watched the sun sink from the glistening sky, leaving a soft flower-blue overhead, while the western space went red, as of all the fire had swam down there, leaving the bell-cast flawless blue. The mountain-ash berries across the field stood fierily out from the dark leaves for a moment.”

The passage quoted above pellucid exemplifies Lawrence’s keen sense of analogy, metaphor and simile. 

Another distinctive feature of Lawrence’s description of nature is that the feeling and emotions of some of the important and complex characters of the novel have been revealed in terms of the objects of nature. This symbolic representation of the human feelings is what constitutes a novel contribution of Lawrence’s to the domain of English fiction. Thus Lawrence has mentioned a few plants and flowers which are suggestive of Miriam’s dormant but passionate desire for life. She figures as a very complex character in the novel. The  complexity of the thoughts lying embedded in the inner recesses of her mind, the subtle and delicate nuances of her fallings and sentiments have been most artistically revealed in the scene where she expresses her reactions to the daffodils:

 “The cheeks of the flowers were greenish with cold. But still some had burst, and their gold ruffle and glowed. Miriam went on her knees before one cluster, took a wild-looking daffodil between her hands , turned up its face of gold to here and bowed down, caressing it with her month and cheeks and brows.”

This short of suggestive or symbolical description is more effective than explicit statement, especially when the psychology of the characters becomes the exclusive concern with the novelist. Thus the scene was Paul is found painting the pine trees is a very suitable illustration in this regard.

Lawrence was primarily pre-occupied with the very “shimmeriness of life”, “the inner feel of it “; he was absolutely indifferent to the hard outer crust of life. Hence both the animate and inanimate object information he novel serve significant purpose inasmuch as these contribute to the externalization or exposition of the inner psychology of the character. Human life has been shown to be in close kinship with nature. By the symbolic presentation of the plants and flowers and several other natural objects, Lawrence has very successfully conveyed the psychological cross-currents of his characters. The rejuvenation of nature is suggestive of “the naturalness of growth and the power of life”. In this context, the illuminating commentary of Mr. Hanson deserves special mention:

 “Through the novel, flowers and growing things are used to suggest the naturalness of growth and the power of life. They are images of vitality and spontaneity, having their roots in some great source of being. This is why they are important as statement or a comment on the relationship between Paul and Miriam. By comparison with things of the natural order, that relationship which should have been equally a part of nature is seen as becoming increasingly unnatural and sterile. Miriam’s attitude to them, one of intense, reverent adoration, is a reflection of her attitude to Paul, unrealistic and over spiritualized.” 

The natural vignettes of Lawrence serve twofold purposes – “first to particularize the special circumstances to Bentwood here the effect is cumulative through the novel; and secondly, as a source of imagery and intangible emotions and attitudes It is very much a poetic use of language, bypassing the rationalizing intellect by the immediacy of its imagery; this natural imagery is one of the ways in which Lawrence gives us “truth carried alive in to the heart by passion.” Lawrence has achieved highly successful and excellently effective result by employing natural imagery for the sake of the externalization of human emotions and intricate thoughts and feelings. This is indubitably a great and laudable artistic achievement.

Ref: 1. History of English Literature- Albert     
     2. A Readers' Guide to the Contemporary English Novel- F. R. Karl