Considered Lawrence`s first masterpiece, most critics of the day praised Sons and Lovers for its authentic treatment of industrial life and sexuality. There is evidence that Lawrence was aware of Sigmund Freud`s early theories on sexuality, and Sons and Lovers deeply explores and revises of one of Freud`s major theories, the Oedipus complex. Still, the book received some criticism from those who felt the author had gone too far in his description of Paul`s confused sexuality.
The roots of Sons and Lovers are clearly located in Lawrence`s life. His childhood coal-mining town of Eastwood was changed to Bestwood. Walter Morel was modeled on Lawrence`s hard-drinking, irresponsible collier father, Arthur. Lydia became Gertrude Morel, the intellectually stifled, unhappy mother who lives through her sons. Lawrence reexamined his childhood, his relationship with his mother, and her psychological effect on his sexuality.