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To really appreciate this novel, the reader has to be able to appreciate the context it was written in. At the time that DH Lawrence wrote Lady Chatterly's Lover, the idea of a married upper-class lady of a manor having an affair with anyone, would have been scandalous. Think back, readers, to a time long before women's rights, the vagina monologues, women in politics, and so on. Think back to a time of corsets and tight lips, of compromises, of a strong ruling class, and of ruling etiquette. The fact that Lawrence broke so many taboos with this book, by writing not only about the lady's unfulfilled personal life and her affair, but of her affair with the gamekeeper of her manor. Had Lady Chatterly not conveniently been left a small fortune to support herself with, she would have fallen quickly from grace and into the gutter, much to the pleasure of the rest of society- for any high brow lady who chose to have relations with someone as lowly as a gamekeeper would have been seen as fit for such punishment at the time. Think of Diana and Dodi for more context, if you must.
However, Lawrence treats his characters well. When I started reading this book I was of course aware of all the stigma and controversy surrounding it, but I also know that it was not uncommon for texts to be labelled as 'indecent' in Lawrence's time, as so many things were back then. To speak openly of sexual relations, particularly between members of different classes, would have been a massive slur in Lawrence's England. I expected, then, some rudeness, some crudeness, and some deliberate bating of the classes. What I found however, was that even in today's sexually open society, I was shocked by Lawrence's writing. I have never read anything quite like it- and I've read Mills and Boon! The thing that stands Lady Chatterly's Lover apart is that it is clearly challenging literature, rather than a quick fix for a horny reader. It takes thought. It requires context. The reader can't help but wonder after Lawrence's motives.
Mellors the gamekeeper is a complex character with a crazy ex wife, an interesting past and an apparent dislike of the class system in general. He likes to keep himself to himself. He is portrayed sometimes as a gentleman, who is able to speak the part, and other times as a crass lower class working man, with a thick accent and little gentleness to his gruff manner. He does not hanker after Connie at first: the reader sees a role reversal as Connie, the lady with airs and graces, begins a subtle chase after Mellors. She is married to Clifford, who is bound to a wheelchair and whose character clashes with her greatly. Although he is the well-bred gentleman of high breeding, he is arrogant and tedious, hard to get along with, and consumed with abstract notions of what it is to be a man. Mellors, on the other hand, simply is male: he engages in manual labour and he knows how to take care of himself. Connie is attracted to these qualities, and also to the idea of bearing a child, which Clifford consents to, though he means for her to sleep with another upper class man, and not with their gamekeeper.
I was initially struck by the bluntness with which Lawrence portrayed Connie's sexual desires, and her vivid encounters with Mellors. I knew that Lawrence was a firm believer in people enjoying sex and accepting it as a natural act, which again put him far ahead of his time, as he lived in a society that was rife with sexual rules and tensions. However, the way Lawrence breaks these norms in Lady Chatterly's Lover are simply mesmerising. Lawrence does not hesistate to use the C-word repeatedly, for example, which is still a taboo word in today's society. The reason we dislike it at present, however, is because it is seen as a very derogatory insult, whereas Lawrence's use of the word is used only to refer to the beauty of the vagina. Perhaps the crudeness, then, lies with us rather than in the text.
Although the reader might find it tedious to follow Mellors' and Connie's conversations during, before and after their (constant) foreplay and sexual experiences, it is worth remembering that this is ultimately a love story, though an unlikely one and involving the most unlikeliest of characters; one cannot deny the naturalness between Connie and Mellors, despite their many obvious differences. Despite their upbringings, Connie and Mellors fit together, even if only sexually. Their willingness to experiment with their bodies borders on embarrassing for the reader as s/he reads description after description of whose parts are doing what to whom, yet sex is portrayed as a kind of conversation between Connie and Mellors; one that rises above the different uses of language that they have both been taught.
I am still surprised by the freshness of this classic; it maintains the power of shock and awe even today, yet if the reader is honest s/he will admit that there is no reason for us to react with prudishness now. We now live in a sexually open society, with easy access to porn, naked bodies on show everywhere we look, and sex is an acceptable topic of conversation: something we are, in fact, excellent at debating. Yet Lady Chatterly's Lover is scandalous to us; outrageous even, and I have found people who loved and laughed with The Vagina Monologues, baulk at the uncomical Lady Chatterly's Lover. And perhaps that is where it has been most daring: in telling in-depth stories of sexual encounters, with an entirely serious tone. Whatever you may have heard of this text, it is invaluable as a 'reflective' work: I recommend that you read it, just to see your own reaction. You may be surprised!
I do enjoy reading the classics and when I saw this at my local bookshop I picked it up during the Easter Weekend for something to read. Obviously that means I got it on loan free but a quick seach of amazon shows me you can get it for £1.99, which is a total bargain!!
About the author ~
D.H Lawrence was an English author poet and playwright who's work was published at the beginning of the 20th century. He wrote a lot about subjects that were considered taboo, such as human sexuality. This book is said to be based on events from Lawrence's private life.
The book is about a young woman, Lady Chatterley, whose husband is paralysed and therefore cannot give her a child. Her husband encourages her to have a child by another man. However she embarks on an affair where a child may not be all she is looking for. Once she begins her affair she starts to wonder whether she can go back to only being alive mentally and not physically.
The book deals a lot with the class system and sexual relationships. The man Lady Chatterley embarks on her affair with is from a lower class system and she is relatively insecure compared to her upperclass husband.
I found the book quite difficult to get into and quite difficult to enjoy. Although I see how it was an important book at its time if release I thought I would have enjoyed it more as it is said to be such a classic. My favourite classic books (Pride & Prejudice) are probably my favourite because we studied them at school and went really in depth to understand everything about them, and wrote numerous essays on them.
With no one to discuss this book with I couldnt really explore my thoughts on it and go over passages I might not have fully understood. To fully enjoy a classic I think you do need some level of discussion.
I wouldn't read this book again but am glad I have ticked it off my "classics still to be read" list. And now I'm lending it to a friend.
Written in 1928 (and being Lawrence’s last novel) Lady Chatterley, along with Sons and Lovers, is one of his most famous novels. But is that because of the controversy? Because of the fact that Lawrence decided for once to go beyond and write about love and sex. To write, explicitly, about sexual partners and experiences. In Sons and Lovers Lawrence’s portrays different aspects of love. Here, in Lady Chatterley’s Lover he portrays different aspects of sex. There is no doubt that Sons and Lovers is Lawrence’s best work, but is Lady Chatterley’s Lover a close second. I myself didn’t think so… Without a doubt that before reading Lady Chatterley’s Lover you’re going to think about the sexual contents that are raised in it. It’s known for it’s “explicit” scenes and Connie (the main characters) hunger for sex. Within a couple of pages I’d learnt a lot about how Connie lost her virginity and her first experience with sex. Immediately I didn’t like Connie. She had something about her (that I couldn’t put my finger on) that made her patronising. She admitted she had sex with this specific man as she then had “control” over him. It was nothing loving and pleasing about it, she held back from having an orgasm, it was pure sex, and she felt that in that time she was in control. Over the man. She ruled what happened, and he had no say. She’s somewhat spiteful towards men. She feels power during sex and nothing else: “… A woman could yield to her man without yielding her inner, free self. A woman could take him without giving herself into his power. Rather she could use this sex thing to have power over him. For she only had to hold herself
back in sexual intercourse, and let him finish and expend himself without herself coming to the crisis.” You can clearly see here that Lawrence didn’t want you to like characters immediately. He can’t have, or he wouldn’t have written this in the first few pages. He shows Connie’s true feelings. True beliefs. Which aren’t one’s that any would agree to. Lawrence didn’t something no other author had done at that time; he showed us a character’s true colours. He showed us the character’s true colours. After her experiencing with this man she meets Clifford. Clifford goes off to the war, and returns wheel chair bound and impotent. Having stuck to the rule of no sex before marriage (well on his account, anyway) they hadn’t gotten intimate, therefore Connie and Clifford never had sex, even after they got married, because by then Clifford was impotent after his accident. Not having sex, and not being able to have sex, perhaps gives Connie and Clifford that better bond. She knows now she can’t have sex with him. She’s got power over him, anyway, therefore she doesn’t need to have sex with him, and control herself from climax to achieve it. Connie can be relaxed with him; she can be who she wants to be. She doesn’t necessarily love Clifford but she feels something for him. At times I thought it was pity, but she does feel something loving towards however small that is… When she has sex with Michaelis, a man who comes to stay in her house, it’s after minutes of meeting him. Connie can’t stand the intensity, the need to have sex. This time she has it not for power, but for enjoyment. Not to love, but to have sex. Not to make love but to “fuck”, as she puts it! And when she meets the gamekeeper, she
falls for him too. But instead of just having sex with him, she also begins to fall in love with him. And that’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover. The experiences (mostly sexual) between Connie Chatterley and her lover; the gamekeeper…. I can easily say I didn’t enjoy this novel. Reading it was at times tiresome, and although some parts I found I couldn’t put down, other parts were simply dull and repetitive. It doesn’t help either that I really disliked the main character. I have read novels before where I’ve really disliked the character (more so than I did Connie) but it still kept me gripped either by the writing or because of other characters. Sons And Lovers, for instance, I really disliked Mrs Morel, and Paul, but the fantastic writing kept me totally hooked on the story. I fell in love with Lawrence during that, but this has certainly made me slip back out once again. Lawrence did succeed, at times though, by contrasting his characters. Connie and her husband Clifford were two completely different characters. As a man Clifford isn’t very strong emotionally, or is he confident. He’s very coy, and even was before his accident. At the beginning of their marriage, if anything, I got the feeling he was glad that he’d had the injury because he was so scared of having sex with Connie. I don’t know whether it was because he was scared he wouldn’t reach her standards, or whether he was just a bit too shy, but at the beginning of their marriage he was somewhat relieved that he didn’t have to have sex with her. Connie on the other hand is confident (if not too much) and although she can be considerate and kind, awfully self centred who think about herself more often than not. She was the complete opposite of Clifford, an
d at times, it was interesting to see the difference in their characters. So, what about the sex? Well, they weren’t as explicitly described as I thought. Obviously back in 1928 Lady Chatterley’s Lover was the Footballers Wives of our time! It was controversial and too explicit. The censored Lady Chatterley’s Lover (that didn’t include the explicit sex descriptions) was published first, and the original in full wasn’t published until years later. They weren’t as explicit as I thought they were going to be, but I felt that Lawrence concentrated on them too much, instead of concentrating on his writing style, and I felt it took away from his usual brilliance. It was written tastefully, and was done very tastefully, but it wasn’t a shocker to read. It would have been in its time, but not now. So, as you’ve probably gathered I didn’t really enjoy it that much. It most certainly doesn’t deserve the title “classic” and I was disappointed after reading it. Unlike other novels it took me ages to read, as well. At least a month. That was probably because I was so bored and dreaded reading it at times. I think die-hard Lawrence fans should read it just to see how he deals with different things, but other than that I don’t recommend it at all to anyone. It’s bland, repetitive and concentrates too much on sex to be anything over than “a book with sex scenes described in it”. Lawrence could have made this one of the best he’d written, but instead he made it one of the worst. It could have been so good, but it wasn’t. Instead it was a big disappointment. © Matt Roberts 2004
I had had this book lying around for ages after buying it as one of those books that I thought I should read, but I had never actually got round to it. So a few weeks ago, I decided to sit down and see what all the fuss was about and whether it really was as shocking as all the hype made it out to be. The plot The book centres around a woman called Connie who is trapped in an unhappy marriage to a husband who is wheelchair-bound. She craves love, attention and excitement, but he is unable to give it to her due to his own preoccupations and own self-absorbtion. She seeks solace in the arms of their rather gruff gamekeeper, Mellors, and the book is a long and detailed account of their affair and the way in which they choose to live their life. Characters There are three main characters with several supporting ones, but I will concentrate on the three within the 'love triange'. Connie is the woman who is caught between the two men, her husband Clifford, and Mellors the gamekeeper. I found her very difficult to like and to have any real feelings for though as she seems so selfish and doesn't seem to care about the feelings of others. She seems to enjoy deceiving her husband. Her husband is also portrayed in an unsympathetic manner, another selfish person who is oblivious to his wife's feelings and needs. And then there is Mellors who we see as the complete opposite of Connie, although this may be the reason she falls for his gruff, manly, imposing image. In my opinion, the characters are not very well fleshed out and as a reader, we are not able to relate to them or feel any sympathy for them. We do not care what happens to them. Themes I started this book expecting there to be fairly long and detailed descriptions of sex, but whether I was expecting the wrong sort of thing or whether I just have different expectations and standards in today's world comapred with what readers thought was acceptab
le fifty years ago I am not sure. There is a strong sexual theme throughout the book, but much of it is veiled and at times, some of it is just laughable. I found it very difficult to imagine a manly, masculine gamekeeper like Mellors threading daisies through his pubic hair! There is also the theme of women and how they are represented in this novel. Connie is not a stereotypical woman of the time as she is not demure and subservant to her husband. She has sexual wants and needs and seems to lack any real maternal qualities, although these do develop a little as the book progresses. We can also see how the portrayal of marriage was being changed and altered at the time and how it was starting to become a little more acceptable for women to leave their husbands. My opinion I felt that this book was one that I should read, but I doubt that it will be one I will be returning to. For me, a book must have some way of connecting with the reader and a character that you can identify or sympathise with. This book had none of this. I was disappoited as I was expecting more from it and I found it quite difficult to get through towards the end as it tended to drag a little and I had lost interest in the characters and what would happen to them. This may be a classic, but it isn't a classic in my collection.
David Herbert Lawrence was born on 11 September 1885 in Eastwood close to Nottingham. His father was a miner, his mother a teacher. She was the one to make it possible for him to study, and not only to study at school but also at a university, an unusual chance for a person from his background at that time. After finishing his degree at the University College in Nottingham in 1908, Lawrence published his first poems in ?English Review?. He taught at a school in London for three years, until in 1911 he started suffering from tuberculosis. During the World War I, Lawrence drew unjustified suspicion to himself and was even for a while suspected of being a German spy because of his German wife. Due to this and to his illness, he finally left England for good in 1919 and went around Europe and further ? to Italy, Sicily, Australia, Mexico, back to Italy and finally to the South of France where he stayed for a while and tried to cure his disease. From 1926 onwards, Lawrence lived in Italy, where he wrote two versions of the famous novel ?Lady Chatterley?s Lover? about the unsatisfying sexual life of Lady Chatterley and her husband, two aristocrats, and finally of the satisfying relationship between her and the forester. One version of this novel which did not include any sexual scenes was published in 1932, but the actual original version was not published until much later. This book, although considered to be shocking when it was published, is probably far from shocking now but only stresses a point that is generally accepted today: ie that a life full of repression and complexes, and especially complexes in one?s sexual life, cannot lead to a fulfilling and happy life. The author describes the repressed (sexual and other) life of aristocrats at the end of the 19th and at the beginning of the 20th century by making frequent reference to nature and by demonstrating that humans are still far closer to animals than we often imagine to be ? not mea
ning that everything is fair in love and war, but that pretending that our body has no demands is simply a lie to ourselves.
Constance Chatterley is unhappy. Married to an invalid, she is almost as inwardly paralysed as her husband Clifford is below the waist. It is not until she finds refuge in the arms of Mellors the game-keeper, that she feels regenerated, and together they move towards an inner world of fulfillment.