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Lady Chatterley's Lover

D.H. Lawrence

Characters

Summary

Section I: Chapters 1-3

Lady Chatterley  -  The protagonist of the novel. Before her marriage, she is simply Constance Reid, an intellectual and social progressive, the daughter of Sir Malcolm and the sister of Hilda. When she marries Clifford Chatterley, a minor nobleman, Constance--or, as she is known throughout the novel, Connie--assumes his title, becoming Lady Chatterley. Lady Chatterley's Lover chronicles Connie's maturation as a woman and as a sensual being. She comes to despise her weak, ineffectual husband, and to love Oliver Mellors, the gamekeeper on her husband's estate. In the process of leaving her husband and conceiving a child with Mellors, Lady Chatterley moves from the heartless, bloodless world of the intelligentsia and aristocracy into a vital and profound connection rooted in sensuality and sexual fulfillment.
Oliver Mellors  -  The lover in the novel's title. Mellors is the gamekeeper on Clifford Chatterley's estate, Wragby. He is aloof, sarcastic, intelligent and noble. He was born near Wragby, and worked as a blacksmith until he ran off to the army to escape an unhappy marriage. In the army he rose to become a commissioned lieutenant--an unusual position for a member of the working classes--but was forced to leave the army because of a case of pneumonia, which left him in poor health. Disappointed by a string of unfulfilling love affairs, Mellors lives in quiet isolation, from which he is redeemed by his relationship with Connie: the passion unleashed by their lovemaking forges a profound bond between them. At the end of the novel, Mellors is fired from his job as gamekeeper and works as a laborer on a farm, waiting for a divorce from his old wife so he can marry Connie. Mellors is the representative in this novel of the Noble Savage: he is a man with an innate nobility but who remains impervious to the pettiness and emptiness of conventional society, with access to a primitive flame of passion and sensuality.
Clifford Chatterley  -  Connie's husband. Clifford Chatterley is a minor nobleman who becomes paralyzed from the waist down during World War I. As a result of his injury, Clifford is impotent. He retires to his familial estate, Wragby, where he becomes first a successful writer, and then a powerful businessman. But the gap between Connie and him grows ever wider; obsessed with financial success and fame, he is not truly interested in love, and she feels that he has become passionless and empty. He turns for solace to his nurse and companion, Mrs. Bolton, who worships him as a nobleman even as she despises him for his casual arrogance. Clifford represents everything that this novel despises about the modern English nobleman: he is a weak, vain man, but declares his right to rule the lower classes, and he soullessly pursues money and fame through industry and the meaningless manipulation of words. His impotence is symbolic of his failings as a strong, sensual man.
Mrs. Bolton -  Ivy Bolton is Clifford's nurse and caretaker. She is a competent, complex, still-attractive middle-aged woman. Years before the action in this novel, her husband died in an accident in the mines owned by Clifford's family. Even as Mrs. Bolton resents Clifford as the owner of the mines--and, in a sense, the murderer of her husband--she still maintains a worshipful attitude towards him as the representative of the upper class. Her relationship with Clifford--she simultaneously adores and despises him, while he depends and looks down on her--is probably the most fascinating and complex relationship in the novel.
Michaelis -  A successful Irish playwright with whom Connie has an affair early in the novel. Michaelis asks Connie to marry him, but she decides not to, realizing that he is like all other intellectuals: a slave to success, a purveyor of vain ideas and empty words, passionless.
Hilda Reid -  Connie's older sister by two years, the daughter of Sir Malcolm. Hilda shared Connie's cultured upbringing and intellectual education. She remains unliberated by the raw sensuality that changed Connie's life. She disdains Connie's lover, Mellors, as a member of the lower classes, but in the end she helps Connie to leave Clifford.
Sir Malcolm Reid  -  The father of Connie and Hilda. He is an acclaimed painter, an aesthete and unabashed sensualist who despises Clifford for his weakness and impotence, and who immediately warms to Mellors.
Tommy Dukes -  One of Clifford's contemporaries, Tommy Dukes is a brigadier general in the British Army and a clever and progressive intellectual. Lawrence intimates, however, that Dukes is a representative of all intellectuals: all talk and no action. Dukes speaks of the importance of sensuality, but he himself is incapable of sensuality and uninterested in sex.
Charles May, Hammond, Berry  -  Young intellectuals who visit Wragby, and who, along with Tommy Dukes and Clifford, participate in the socially progressive but ultimately meaningless discussions about love and sex.
Duncan Forbes -  An artist friend of Connie and Hilda. Forbes paints abstract canvases, a form of art both Mellors and D.H. Lawrence seem to despise. He once loved Connie, and Connie originally claims to be pregnant with his child.
Bertha Coutts -  Although Bertha never actually appears in the novel, her presence is felt. She is Mellors' wife, separated from him but not divorced. Their marriage faltered because of their sexual incompatibility: she was too rapacious, not tender enough. She returns at the end of the novel to spread rumors about Mellors' infidelity to her, and helps get him fired from his position as gamekeeper. As the novel concludes, Mellors is in the process of divorcing her.
Squire Winter -  A relative of Clifford. He is a firm believer in the old privileges of the aristocracy.
Daniele, Giovanni  -  Venetian gondoliers in the service of Hilda and Connie. Giovanni hopes that the women will pay him to sleep with them; he is disappointed. Daniele reminds Connie of Mellors: he is attractive, a "real man."

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