“Lyric and sensual, D.H. Lawrence’s last novel is one of the major works of fiction of the twentieth century. Filled with scenes of intimate beauty, explores the emotions of a lonely woman trapped in a sterile marriage and her growing love for the robust gamekeeper of her husband’s estate. The most controversial of Lawrence’s books, Lady Chatterly’s Lover joyously affirms the author’s vision of individual regeneration through sexual love. The book’s power, complexity, and psychological intricacy make this a completely original worka triumph of passion, an erotic celebration of life.”
Thoughts: Ah, Lady Chatterley and her lover – one of the most banned books ever; it has titillated audiences since it was first published in 1928. However, behind the shock factor of this very infamous novel lies a striking picture in time of a society in flux. The First World War is over, as is the Victorian era. A society once deeply divided into the privileged and not-so-privileged classes is finding the class lines blurring and rapidly disappearing. There is an increasing focus on technology and profits versus family and relationships. Into this backdrop come Lady Chatterley, someone who was a vibrant part of the intelligentsia society before the war and now profoundly unhappy with her role as Lady of the manor, and Oliver Mellors, a former working class member turned Army officer and member of polite society turned gamekeeper and employee of Lady Chatterley’s husband. In their search for happiness and fulfillment, their coupling is fraught with tension but ultimately inevitable.
The bedroom scenes, for which Lady Chatterley’s Lover is famous, are less sensual than one might expect and almost clinical in their descriptions. The relationship between Connie and Mellors is not one of shared love and respect but rather one of dominance and submission and even gratitude over their mutual sexual satisfaction. What they say, or don’t say, to each other is definitely more important than what they do to each other. The one thing that becomes abundantly clear is that the 21st century has nothing on the 1920s in the form of the act itself or the language used.
Where Lady Chatterley’s Lover gets its true punch is not through its infamous bedroom scenes but rather through its rather blunt discussions of class and the blurring of the lines between them that occurred after the First World War. The fact that Connie is having an affair is not as shocking as the fact that her affair is with someone who society considers to be of a lower class than her and is in fact one of her husband’s employees. Affairs are okay; intermingling of the classes is not. Through Connie and Mellors’ relationship, and Mellors’ continued confusion about his place in society, Lawrence highlights the change that was occurring in English society after the war. Class lines were blurring, if not disappearing, and some embraced the change more than others. Lady Chatterley’s Lover forced readers of that era to take a look at their own prejudices about class and recognize that this issue was not stagnating the way they always have. Modern-day readers receive a historical glimpse of the social turmoil brought about by the post-war era and what truly ruffled feathers during this time.
Lady Chatterley’s Lover is not a novel about which readers can rave about how amazingly awesome it is. Instead, it is a novel that requires careful reading and even more careful thinking about what was read. The language itself makes this a novel for a select audience. Those easily offended or remotely squeamish about curse words or crude slang terms for anatomical parts would be well advised to not even attempt to read it. However, those who can get past the shock and awe that Lawrence successfully managed to incorporate in the novel will appreciate the cautionary, almost revolutionary ideas he posits regarding class, scholarship, and relationships.
Acknowledgements: Mine. All mine.