Treatment of Nature in Sons and Lovers
D. H. Lawrence is regarded as one of the greatest nature-poets in the history of English literature. Lawrence in his descriptions of nature combines the genius of a painter with that of a poet. He is a painter in his technique and a poet in his attitude to nature. His observation of Nature is at ways minute, and his descriptions of nature are always graphic. As Wordsworth is the painter of the lake districts, Hardy of the Wessex, Lawrence is of Eastwood. But like Wordsworth, he is not a mystic in his approach towards Nature. He does not believe like Wordsworth, in Nature’s formative and instructive powers. Like Keats, his descriptions are replete with beauty, colors, and scents and like Keats, he is a man of strong perceptions for he shares the Keatsian sensibility to the poetic charm of Nature. There is hardly any trace of the nature dynamics of Shelly in Lawrence.
The recurrence of Nature-pictures in the novel Sons and Lovers shows that Lawrence is no less interested in the life of Nature than he is in the life of human beings. He surpasses any modern writer in the description of the landscape. He uses both dark and bright pastels of color. But he subordinates neither man nor Nature. There is glow, warmth, beauty, rhythm and color and specifically the pulse of life beauty in the descriptions of the success. Just mark this sky cape:
The sun was going down. Every open evening, the skill of Derbyshire was 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 if all the fire had swan 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.
Their Nature-pictures constitute one of the most conspicuous features of Sons and Lover: The drama of human life and human emotions in the strong is inextricably bound up with the interplay of natural phenomena and natural objects. An exquisite pattern results from this artistic mingling of the two ingredients: human life and the life of Natural life.
Often the objects of Nature are used as symbols in the novel. Miriam’s reaction to the daffodils on one occasion is signification this connection when panel and Miriam were walking in silence, to them the daffodils seemed to be craning forward from among their sheaves of grey-green blades. Miriam began to show Paul the faces of all the flowers one by one – fondling them lavishly all the while. Then she asked him if the daffodils were not magnificent. She was at this moment sipping the flowers with fervent kisses. He thereupon asks her why she is always fondling things. She replies that she loves to touch them. Steer her adoration of flowers symbolizes her over spiritual attitude to Paul, at the same time conveying to us her suppressed sexual passion. The flowers also symbolize the innocence and youth of Miriam. Moreover, flowers and plants, all natural growth, represent life, vitality, and spontaneity. By contrast with natural growth, the human relationship tends to decline and to become sterile. Not only we have descriptions of landscape in the novel but also vivid pictures of individual objects of nature such as the birds, the flowers, the beasts, the sky, the moon, the sun, the trees, the hedges, the meadows, the grass, the thickets and so on. Furthermore, Nature is presented to us in all its hues, colors, and tints. We have all the shades: luminous, bright, dim, dark and so on. As Lawrence’s love for nature is Keatsian in quality, it is also deep and sensuous. At the same time, Lawrence does not overwhelm us with a profusion of Nature-description. He maintains an artistic balance between such description and the narration of the story. He does not cloy us with that description as the romantic poets often do.
Generally, Lawrence depicts Nature in its serene moods, but he is not blind to the grim and stormy aspects of it. The strife in the Morel household is symbolized by the great ash-tree which produces shrinking sounds when the west wind blows through its branches. But the fields around Willey Farm are peaceful and tranquil so as to harmonize with the idyllic life of the human beings there. But one reason why Lawrence turns to nature repeatedly is his revolt against industrialization and machinery. It symbolizes the instinctive life while machinery exercises a disruptive and dehumanizing influence on human beings.
In conclusion, considering the above discussion, we may assume the fact that in all the cases of Lawrence’s treatment of Nature, we have not only pictures for our eyes but also pictures for our ears. Thus these pictures have an audio-visual appeal.