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.... read more
In the beginning of the novel the reader is introduced to Connie and her sister Hilda, educated women with understanding and modern parents. Connie marries Sir Clifford Chatterly because of their mutual intellectual attraction, and moves into her husband's ancestral home, Wragby Hall, but... read more (warning: may contain spoilers)
In the beginning of the novel the reader is introduced to Connie and her sister Hilda, educated women with understanding and modern parents. Connie marries Sir Clifford Chatterly because of their mutual intellectual attraction, and moves into her husband's ancestral home, Wragby Hall, but finds it dismal. Shortly after, Clifford goes off to war and becomes injured. He no longer has the use of his legs or the ability to produce an heir. Nonetheless, the Chatterlys are happy together for as long as they can share their intellectual pursuits.
Sir Clifford becomes a writer of some note, and Connie enjoys being his sounding board for his stories. Connie is confused but unaffected when her father declares Clifford's stories to be "empty". As a popular writer, Clifford plays host to many of his contemporaries, including Michaelis. Michaelis and Connie become lovers, and although Clifford never discovers the liaison, it is done with his (abstract, non-specific) blessing.
Eventually, Connie becomes worn out. She has come to agree with her father about the emptiness of Clifford's writing and feels her attachment to him waining. She is overworked taking care of Clifford and sapped of energy by her intense dislike for her surroundings. When Hilda visits, she declares that Clifford must hire an attendant, because Connie can no longer stand to be his only caretaker. Eventually, Clifford gives in and hires Ivy Bolton, a nurse from the village.
Under Mrs. Bolton's guidance, Sir Clifford takes a more active role in the coal mining operation on his land. He and Connie grow to have even less in common. No longer responsible for her husband's care, Connie takes to walking Wragby's grounds on a regular basis and becomes somewhat acquainted with the grounds keeper, Mellors. Although she does not particularly seem to like him at first, she is nonetheless physically attracted to him. Eventually, the two develop a physical relationship, and later on even an emotional one. Mrs. Bolton discovers their romance, but decides to keep the information to herself.
Connie suspects that she is pregnant, and decides to use her upcoming trip to Venice as a cover. She and Clifford had previously discussed the idea of her taking a lover for the sake of producing an heir to Wragby. She knows that he would not approve of Mellors fathering the child, but some unknown lover in Venice would seem both appropriate and non-threatening. While Connie is in Venice with her father and sister, however, Mellors' estranged wife returns, enraged by his request for a divorce. She uncovers evidence of a woman in his cottage and begins to search for answers and share information with the other villagers. She even begins to suspect Lady Chatterly, and Clifford, enraged by the suggestion, fires Mellors.
Connie meets up with Mellors in London upon her return from Venice, and declares her intentions to leave Clifford. Mellors is introduced to Connie's family, and welcomed at least warmly enough that both her father and sister are willing to assist in Connie's efforts. Hilda suggests that Clifford will be more willing to agree to a divorce if he feels that Connie has a better chance at happiness with someone else in their social caste, and an old family friend is convinced to play the part. Clifford, however, will not give in and Connie is forced to divulge the truth of her affair.
The book ends with Connie and Mellors reaffirming their love for one another and working towards their mutual divorces.
“And that is how we are. By strength of will we cut off our inner intuitive knowledge from admitted consciousness.”
“Ours is essentially a tragic age, so we refuse to take it tragically. The cataclysm has happened, we are among the ruins, we start to build up new little habitats, to have new little hopes. It is rather hard work: there is now no smooth road into the future: but we go round, or scramble over the obstacles. We've got to live, no matter how many skies have fallen.”
“The only unfortunate thing was that men lagged so far behind women in the matter. They insisted on the sex thing like dogs.”
“A woman could take a man without really giving herself away. Certainly she 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: and then she could prolong the connection and achieve her orgasm and her crisis while he was merely her tool.”
“But that is how men are! Ungrateful and never satisfied. When you don't have them they hate you because you won't; and when you do have them they hate you again, for some other reason. Or for no reason at all, except that they are discontented children, and can't be satisfied whatever they get, let a woman do what she may.”
“All the great words, it seemed to Connie, were cancelled for her generation: love, joy, happiness, home, mother, father, husband, all these great, dynamic words were half dead now, and dying from day to day. Home was a place you lived in, love was a thing you didn't fool yourself about, joy was a word you applied to a good Charleston, happiness was a term of hypocrisy used to bluff other people, a father was an individual who enjoyed his own existence, a husband was a man you lived with and kept going in spirits. As for sex, the last of the great words, it was just a cocktail term for an excitement that bucked you up for a while, then left you more raggy than ever. Frayed!”
“...the young ones get mad because they’ve no money to spend. Their whole life depends on spending money, and now they’ve got none to spend. That’s our civilization and our education: bring up the masses to depend entirely on spending money, and then the money gives out. If you could only tell them that living and spending isn’t the same thing! But it’s no good. If only they were educated to LIVE instead of earn and spend...”
“There's lots of good fish in the sea...maybe...but the vast masses seem to be mackerel or herring, and if you're not mackerel or herring yourself you are likely to find very few good fish in the sea.”
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