Throughout one’s lifetime many relationships are established between people that result in either a negative or positive influence on a person, shaping how they form new relationships with others. Throughout D.H. Lawrence’s classic novel Son’s and Lovers, the character of Paul Morel is developed through his relationships with three women, Gertrude, his mother, and his two loves Miriam and Clara. These women each play a distinct role in the construction of Paul, as his connection with his mother is Oedipal, while his relationships with Clara and Miriam are sexual and spiritual.
Gertrude is the most powerful woman in Paul’s life, and thus this tight-knit relationship serves as the root for Paul’s future affairs. It is no coincidence that Gertrude shares the same name as Hamlet’s Queen Gertrude, for both women share the mother’s possessive role of the Oedipal complex. Paul sees his mother as youthful and virginal, frequently comparing her to flowers. At times Paul and Gertrude’s closeness is almost like that of a couple, for example while the mother and son dine in town together, Paul thinks of her as "gay as a sweetheart", and feels the "excitement of lovers". However, Gertrude’s youthfulness was not eternal, and so when it begins to fade, Paul experiences both irritation and jealousy:
Why can’t a man have a young mother?… And why wasn’t I the oldest son?
Look—they say the young ones have the advantage—but look, they had the
young mother. You should have had me for your eldest son.
Daniel A. Weiss delves into Paul’s peculiar reaction to his aging mother in his essay "The Mother in the Mind". Weiss suggests that, in this aspect of the Oedipal complex, that Paul’s "real desire is to be even more than the ‘oldest son,’ is not even that his mother remain young, but that they equal in age no matter what it is". Referring to Weiss’ mention of "the injured third party", the male to which ...