The image of the artist as a young man in the first three novels of D.H. Lawrence
Scholars agree that from the first D. H. Lawrence showed considerable interest in portraits
of the artist, but do not see the theme as being pivotal in his oeuvre, particularly during the
1906-1913 period. The main reason for this has been the tendency to read Lawrence's
early work largely as an attempt to turn his life into art, thus ignoring somehow that he
was highlighting the theme of the identity of the artist.
Part One (Chapter Two) in this study traces Lawrence's early tensions, troubles,
concerns, dilemmas, interests and ambitions to show how they forecast his imminent
attention to the artist theme. Part Two presents a detailed analysis of how the image of the
artist as a young man emerges and evolves in each of Lawrence's first three novels.
Without ignoring or underestimating the individuality of each of Lawrence's early major
artists - Cyril Beardsall, Siegmund MacNair and Paul Morel - the emphasis on these
figures in Chapters Three, Four and Five in this thesis is not so much on their differences
as on what binds these artistic protagonists together.
The dominant theme in The White Peacock is that of the artist's alienation and eventual
self-exile from his native landscape The artist's relationship with women, which is tackled
only tangentially in the first novel, becomes the dominant theme in The Tresl2asser
Siegmund's search as an artist for spiritual and sexual fulfilment is picked up by Paul in
Sons and Lovers. Unlike his artist predecessors, Paul finally succeeds in getting what he
wants from separate women although this artist too fails to find both soul and passion in
one and the same woman. Moreover, like Cyril and Siegmund, Paul is surrounded by
possessive women who fail to understand and hence are unable to accept, that the man
and the artist in him are inseparable.
This study reveals the long and relentless quest of Lawrence's early major artist-figures
for self-awareness self-fulfilment and freedom. It also assesses Lawrence's contribution to
the artist theme in twentieth-century English literature.