Lady Chatterley's Lover
Many critics have seen the character of Mellors as an extension of D.H. Lawrence himself. Certainly, Lawrence is known to have been a writer of fiction that referred extensively to his own autobiography; for example, the coal miners and industrial settings that fill his novels are drawn directly from Lawrence's own childhood experiences. How do you think that Lady Chatterley's Lover, in its perspective on coal miners and their role in the industrial economy, comments on Lawrence's own background?
It has often been argued--most vociferously by the censors who initially kept Lady Chatterley's Lover from being published in England and America--that Lawrence's last novel is pornographic. Do you agree or disagree? Is there a difference between sexually-explicit material and pornographic material? Can even great literature be pornographic? Perhaps you might consider this preliminary question: is Lady Chatterley's Lover sexually explicit at all?
Who are the sympathetic characters in this novel? Approach this question from two angles: ask yourself both which characters the novel tries to present as sympathetic, and which characters you, the reader, found sympathetic.
In his essay "A Propos of Lady Chatterley's Lover," Lawrence writes, "Marriage is essential." Is this opinion borne out in Lady Chatterley's Lover? Does this novel, in general, tend to evidence support for social and religious institutions, or to advocate the radical re-organization of society?
Oliver Mellors is a difficult character. The great English author Lawrence Durrell finds him incomplete and unattractive, one of the great failings of the novel. And yet he is supposed to have spoken for D.H. Lawrence himself. What is your opinion of Mellors? Is he a worthy match for Connie Chatterley?
One of the great concerns of modernist novels is the perceived diminished capacity of people to interact meaningfully in the modern world. The moral of E.M. Forster's Howard's End summed up the prayers of a generation of writers: "Only Connect!" But in a fragmented modern world, deep-seated connections between different people often seemed impossible to modernist writers, and to their heirs, the postmodernists; indeed, the literature of the 20th century is peopled by solitary, isolated egos, who brush up against each other but seem never truly to touch. How does Lady Chatterley's Lover comment on the possibility of connection and communication in the modern age? Do Connie and Mellors seem truly to communicate?
What do you think is Lady Chatterley's Lover's take on the first World War and its aftermath? How did the war change society? What other factors, according to the novel, were at work to shape early 20th-century society? Does the novel believe that postwar society is headed in a positive direction? What, if any, alternatives does the novel propose?
This is a novel about love and lust, but also about economics and politics; this novel, indeed, asserts that love, lust, politics, and economics are driven by the same impulses and affected by the same illnesses. What is the connection in the novel between society's sexual malaise, and the political and economic malaise of postwar England?
Think about the different narrative voices employed in Lady Chatterley's Lover. Whose perspective does the narrator assume throughout most of the novel? Does it change? Is the narrator ever omniscient? Opinionated? Do you think that the narrator ever functions simply as an extension of the author Lawrence?
Think about the style in which Lady Chatterley's Lover was written. Compare it to the style of other novels written in the 1920s and early 1930s. Does Lady Chatterley's Lover seem similar or different? What other books does it most closely resemble, stylistically? Do you think that Lawrence's stylistic choices reflect a set of ideological choices? Which choices?
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