Lady Chatterley’s Lover By D.H. Lawrence erupted onto the literary scene, creating such a scandal that it was banned from publication and disbursement in several countries for some time. The scandal was caused by the author’s excessive use of explicit language and sexual content. This book broke with customary literature of the time by delving into issues of sex and the sexual mixing of the classes, as well as the repeated use of specific 4 letter word. Needless to say, such a scandal succeeded in causing people in every walk of life to be exposed to Lawrence’s tale of the need for wholeness in one’s life. His theory is that one can not life in the mind alone, a body and mind must both be active for a person to truly live. In other words, a person can not live a platonic, sex-less life and be considered whole and alive. All experiences must be had and all needs must be met, both mentally and physically. This book was the third in a series of rewrites, ranging from the first Lady Chatterley’s Lover, to John Thomas and Lady Jane, and finally to the edition in print today.
The theme of Lady Chatterley’s lover is handed to us in the first paragraph, when Lawrence states that “there is 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”. This book is about three people whose skies have certainly fallen and who scramble over the obstacles anyway, in search of the future and their selves. The story begins in 1917, with the marriage of Constance and Clifford Chatterley. They marry while he is home on a month leave during WWI but too soon, he is shipped back to war and subsequently shipped back to home again, alive but “in pieces”. Clifford was permanently paralyzed from the waist down and rendered impotent. He attempted to take this drastic change in his life in stride, however. “He remained strange and bright and cheerful…yet still in his face, one saw the watchful look, the slight vacancy of a cripple.” Clifford had suffered and it had left its mark on him but he was determined to persevere and move forward and take advantage of the life that was left to him. Constance Chatterley is a healthy young woman with modern social ideals, whom had taken lovers before her marriage and not been ashamed to tell her husband about it.
The couple attempted to maintain this charade of platonic contentment until eventually, Constance could no longer suppress the life her body so desperately desired and she began having affairs. These affairs, however, only fed her physical appetite and each one passed off without any real marital issues being brought forth.
Constance suffered from the “disconnexion” of body and mind that was brought on by Clifford’s invalidity. “Out of her disconnexion, a restlessness was taking possession of her like a madness.”
One day while out on the grounds of their estate, Clifford suggests to Constance that she have a child by another man because he wanted a child to inherit the family title and property. Clifford did not believe that biological parentage was as important as the actual rearing of a child. He stated to Constance, “ if we had the child to rear, it would be our own, and it would carry on”. Initially, Constance did not pursue this option but continued to think about the possibility.
Eventually, Constance began having an affair with the estate’s game keeper, Oliver Mellors. Who had previously been in the military and done quite well. He had been married but had been wounded by the experience. Theirs was a passionate love affair that involved explicit details of their sexual exploits. However socially unsuited they may have seemed, they fell in love and a pregnancy soon followed. At first all was safely kept secret but as things must in situations like that, talk began. Constance fled to Venice to conceal the pregnancy and sent a Dear John letter to Clifford, who insisted that she return. Constance returned to their estate but did not stay. She named the father of her child and fled to Scotland with her sister and Mellors goes to work on a farm in the country, in order to save up money. With the small amount of money that Constance has and the money that Mellors makes, they plan on buying a small farm of their own.
The book ends with a letter to Constance from Mellors. This letter clearly shows Mellors love for her and his believe that theirs will be a good life as soon as they can be togather but it also shows how beaten he must feel, being separated from her and their developing child. It is the perfect tangible explanation for the opening paragraph’s statement of the theme. Mellors ends the letter with a simple and lovely sentence “John Thomas says goodnight to Lady Jane, a little droopingly, but with a hopeful heart.”