One of D. H. Lawrence's philosophies of life, present in his novel Sons and Lovers, concerns the effect of the modern, industrial age. The modern, industrial age has created imprisonment, physically, psychologically, and emotionally.
The imprisonment of the industrial age is first portrayed through the father, Walter Morel, who was a very handsome man full of potential but turns out to be a drunkard trapped in the low-income earnings of a miner in the industrial age because of his poor education. In fact, he hated books and "er canna see what there is i' books, ter sit borin' your nose in 'em for," meaning he can't see what's so special about books that people bore, meaning bury, their noses inside of them (ch. VI). In contrast, the mother, Mrs. Morel is very educated and spends a great deal of time reading and writing and has instilled these values on her children. She expects her children to rise above the economic situation of their father, yet even Paul is brought down by the industrial age. His own imprisonment by the industrial age becomes evident when in chapter V, while looking at job advertisements in the newspaper, when questioned what he wanted to with a newspaper, the narrator comments, "Then he looked wistfully out of the window. Already he was a prisoner of industrialism. ... He was being taken into bondage. His freedom in the beloved home valley was going now."
But the bondage of the industrial age, according to Lawrence, did much more than limit education and job opportunities; it limited a person's ability to grow as a person and placed strains on relationships, just as we see in Paul's relationships and his inability to truly find himself.