Constance Chatterley lives at Wragby Hall in the Midlands. Lawrence tells us that, 'the war had brought the roof down over her head. And she had realised that one must live and leam." She is married to Sir Clifford, a writer, intellectual and landowner who was shipped home from Flanders during the war 'more or less in bits', but 'he didn't die and the bits seemed more or less to grow together again.' He is confined to a wheelchair, and his wife has an unsatisfying affair with a successful playwright, Michaelis, a man with a 'bitter, indifferent, stray-dog's soul." This brief liaison is followed by a passionate relationship with the gamekeeper, Oliver Mellors, the son of a miner and ex-officer of the Indian Army. Inevitably, she becomes pregnant by him, and goes to Venice with her sister Hilda partly to obscure the baby's parentage, but she is unhappy. We are told that '...the parting had come so suddenly, so unexpectedly. It was like death.'

Finally, Connie decides that she must return and tell her husband the truth, spurred on by the knowledge that Mellors' estranged wife Bertha has been stirring scandal in an effort to reclaim him. At the moment of confession, we are told of Sir Clifford that 'if he could have sprung out of his chair, he would have done so. His face went yellow and his eyes bulged with disaster as he glared at her...' The novel ends with the temporary separation of Connie and Mellors, as they hopefully await divorce and a new life together, and the last words are contained in a letter from her to him which concludes, symbolically, 'John Thomas says goodnight to Lady Jane, a little droopingly, but with a hopeful heart...' Is Lady Chatterley's Lover a 'protest' novel?

'I put forth this novel as an honest healthy book, necessary for us today. The words that shock so much at first don't shock at all after a while. Is this because the mind is depraved by habit? Not a bit. It is that the words merely shocked the eye, they never shocked the mind at all. People with no minds may go on being shocked, but they don't matter, People with minds realise that they aren't shocked, and never really were, and they experience a sense of relief.' One almost has to admire Lawrence's reasoned self-control in the face of reviews which pronounced that '...if a search were made through all the literature of all the ages, as foul a book might be found, but certainly not a fouler...' and that '...this book excels in filth... it was created out of the turgid vigour of a poisoned mind...' The contemporary condemnation of the novel cannot even be dismissed today, either, since it enforces our understanding of the narrowmindedness which Lawrence was protesting against in the first place. One might argue that its reception Justified its creation, therefore, and, although an examination of the novel's notoriety is not nearly as interesting as an examination of the novel itself, an awareness of the work's controversial nature helps one to understand Lawrence's achievement. Connie and Mellors have an enduring significance in modem literature because they shape their moral code not out of their culture's materials but apart from them, just as the novel itself was created out of protest rather than sympathy with contemporary 'morality.' In this sense, it is helpful to regard the work as one of 'protest', in that it stands, now as then, outside the main stream of the society it criticises. The protest itself operates on two levels, because there is an explicit affront to the established order in the presentation of a love affair between a member of the aristocracy and a gamekeeper, and an implicit, more wide reaching attack on contemporary values in the graphic, serious treatment of sexual intercourse. Lawrence is suggesting that society needs to reevaluate both its social and sexual prejudices.
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