Comment upon the symbolism used in Sons and Lovers.

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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One of the most notable uses of symbolism in this excellent novel is the ubiquitous use of the flower that is used to foreshadow events that will occur very soon after the appearance of the flower. For example, a black flower is described before the death of William, clearly symbolising the death and grief that is about to enter into the Morel family. In the same way, red and white flowers are described usually before romantic moments of physical union:

In bosses of ivory and in large splashed stars the roses gleamed on the darkness of foliage and stems and grass. Paul and Miriam stood close together, silent, and watched. Point after point the steady roses shone out to them, seeming to kindle something in their souls. The dusk came like smoke around, and still did not put out the roses.

The description of the flowers and their intense whiteness are directly linked to the emotions rising up within Paul and Miriam, and this scene anticipates their physical union and their sexual awakening, which, like the white flowers that refuse to be extinguished by the encroaching darkness, will awake emotions within Paul and Miriam that will surprise them both by their strength against all opposition. Flowers therefore are one of the major symbols that are used within this novel to suggest both death and tragedy in the case of black flowers and love and romance in the case of red and white flowers.

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