Craving for Freedom in The Lady Chatterley's Lover

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Words: 2860 |

Pages: 6|

15 min read

Published: Jul 17, 2018

Words: 2860|Pages: 6|15 min read

Published: Jul 17, 2018

“Lady Chatterley’s Lover” is an infamous novel written by D. H. Lawrence, which was banned in the United States until 1959 and in England until 1960 because it said that the novel contains pornography. Lawrence indeed uses a lot of sexual words in his book and this novel uses post World War I as the setting of the time, which it was kind of taboo to bring up the sexual topic in the public in that era. Aside from uses the explicit sex words or sexual discourse still a taboo in that era, Lawrence also rebels “the Victorian norms, which did not accept sexual frankness and insistence on the body’s desire and sensuality.”

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Another Lawrence’s rebellion also can be seen through the character, Clifford. As the narrator presents Clifford’s character, I can see that Clifford also break the picture about the upper class that turned out to be the same with another class, even the working class.

However, Lawrence argues the issue about his book that ''[t]he words themselves are clean, so are the things to which they apply. But the mind drags in a filthy association, calls up some repulsive emotion. Well then, cleanse the mind, that is the real job.'' (Lawrence 1998: 285) For the first time when I know that this book was banned in that era I was a little bit confused, should not be literature works have no limit? Besides, the use of sexual discourse in the Lady Chatterley’s Lover’s narration is not an obscenity, but I think that is the way Lawrence critiques or just expresses his thoughts.

The narrator in Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover (1971) is extradiegetic, he or she is not the character in the story or I can say that the narrator lives outside the storyworld then in this novel also presents zero focalization since the narrator cannot be located. Lawrence uses a third person omniscient narrator in Lady Chatterley’s Lover for the narrator speak as he or she knows everything in the story. Talk about the style of the narrator who likes to sliding in and out in the narration describes the literature in a modernist era which in post World War I. These styles used by the narrator, who has the eye of God, is called “free indirect speech”. According to Gerard Genette“ in free indirect speech, the narrator takes on the speech of the character, or, if one prefers, the character speaks through the voice of the narrator, and the two instances are then merged; in immediate speech, the narrator is obliterated and the character substitutes for him. In the case of an18 Dujardin himself insists more on a stylistic criterion, which is the necessarily formless—according to him—nature of interior monologue: "a discourse without an auditor and unspoken, by which a character expresses his most intimate thoughts, those closest to the unconscious, prior to all logical organization, or, simply, though in its dawning state—expresses it by means of direct phrases reduced to their syntactical minimum, in such a way as to give the impression of a hodgepodge”

The bond here between the intimacy of thought and the nonlogical and nonarticulated nature of it is, clearly, a prejudice of the age. Molly Bloom's monologue corresponds fairly well to that description, but those of Beckett's characters are, on the contrary, rather hyper-logical and ratiocinating.”

The narrator slides in and out of characters’ consciousness. She or he seems so greedy or maybe selfish to talk in the whole story. The characters also speak through the narrator's voice. Sometimes the narrative seems so blur, we hardly differentiate which point of view is presented in that line; the narrator’s or the characters’.At the beginning of the story, the omniscient narrator has said that “[o]ur[ life] is essentially a tragic age, so we refuse to take it tragically.” (Lawrence 1) Post-World War I people want to feel some freedom and yet in the reality, they were not that freedom. But “[w]e’ve got to live, no matter how many skies have fallen.” (Lawrence 1) In this era freedom of speech and expression was being questioned and I think that is what being critiqued by Lawrence through the narration. As we can see from this line that the narrator seems like glorify the freedom and emphasize that freedom of speech is above all of the kind of freedom:“Free! That was the great word.

Out in the open world, out in the forests of the morning, with lusty and splendid-throated young fellows, free to do as they liked, and—above all—to say what they liked.” (Lawrence 4)It seems like the narrator wants freedom, as the characters want too. The narrator wants the freedom to say everything the narrator liked. The unknown narrator even says that “[i]t [is] the talk that mattered supremely: the impassioned interchange of talk. Love [is] only a minor accompaniment.” (Lawrence 5) Love and lust are not something to free the soul but the talk, in my opinion, that clearly states that what matters in Lady Chatterley’s Lover is not the sexual discourse but the urge to critique the limit in expression and speech. The narrator presents it a little bit explicit in this line:Both Hilda and Constance had had their tentative love affairs by the time they were eighteen.

The young men with whom they talked so passionately and sang so lustily and camped under the trees in such freedom wanted, of course, the love connexion. The girls were doubtful, but then the thing was so much talked about, it was supposed to be so important. And the men were so humble and craving. Why couldn’t a girl be queenly, and give the gift of herself?

So they had given the gift of themselves, each to the youth with whom she had the most subtle and intimate arguments. The arguments, the discussions were the great thing: the love-making and connexion were only a sort of primitive reversion and a bit of an anti-climax. One was less in love with the boy afterward, and a little inclined to hate him, as if he had trespassed on one’s privacy and inner freedom. For, of course, being a girl, one’s whole dignity and meaning in life consisted in the achievement of an absolute, a perfect, a pure and noble freedom. What else did a girl’s life mean? To shake off the old and sordid connexions and subjections. (Lawrence 5)I also agree with Penda Peter from his essay titled Politicised Sex and Identity in “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” that if “[t]he profuse sexual discourse in Lady Chatterley’s Lover is interrelated with freedom. This is especially the case at the beginning of the novel when sex as opposed to ‘‘a tragic age.’’ The novel opens with the narrator’s statement that ‘‘Ours is essentially a tragic age, so we refuse to take it tragically’’.

Soon after, a description of Connie’s premarital sexual affairs equates them with freedom of speech. Sexual intercourse is seen as a liberal act of free will without subjection of a woman, ‘‘without yielding her inner, free self.’’ (Lawrence 1999: 7) Sex is also considered ‘‘a form of talk, where you act the words instead of saying them’’ (Lawrence 1999: 34) and that is why ‘‘sex should be as free as speech.’’ (Lawrence 1999: 35) Sex is humorously regarded as an aspect of faith. Asked what he believes in, Clifford’s friend Tommy says: ‘‘Me! Oh, intellectually, I believe in having a good heart, a chirpy penis, a lively intelligence, and the courage to say shit! in front of a lady.’’ (Lawrence 1999: 37)

Relating sex to freedom of speech and to knowledge, Lawrence poses the question of general freedom, which is again a matter of the political. ‘‘Real knowledge comes out of the whole corpus of the consciousness, out of your belly and your penis as much as out of your brain and mind.’’ (Lawrence 1999: 37) Lawrence implies that if the theme of sexual intercourse in art is concerned obscene, immoral, and therefore censored, then our freedom is debatable.”

The war maybe has ended and people think that they have freedom but the truth that they were not fully free because they have the limit to express their thoughts. Lawrence presents this situation through this narration:“Both sisters had had their love experience by the time the war came, and they were hurried home. Neither was ever in love with a young man unless he and she were verbally very near: that is unless they were profoundly interested, talking to one another. The amazing, the profound, the unbelievable thrill there was in passionately talking to some really clever young man by the hour, resuming day after day for months...this they had never realized till it happened!

The paradisal promise: Thou shalt have men to talk to!--had never been uttered. It was fulfilled before they knew what a promise it was. And if after the roused intimacy of these vivid and soul-enlightened discussions the sex thing became more or less inevitable, then let it. It marked the end of a chapter. It had a thrill of its own too: a queer vibrating thrill inside the body, a final spasm of self-assertion, like the last word, exciting, and very like the row of asterisks that can be put to show the end of a paragraph, and a break in the theme. When the girls came home for the summer holidays of 1913, when Hilda was twenty and Connie eighteen, their father could see plainly that they had had the love experience.L'amour avait passe par la, as somebody puts it. But he was a man of experience himself, and let life take its course. As for the mother, a nervous invalid in the last few months of her life, she wanted her girls to be 'free', and to 'fulfill themselves'. She herself had never been able to be altogether herself: it had been denied her. Heaven knows why, for she was a woman who had her own income and her own way. She blamed her husband. But as a matter of fact, it was some old impression of authority on her own mind or soul that she could not get rid of. It had nothing to do with Sir Malcolm, who left his nervously hostile, high-spirited wife to rule her own roost, while he went his own way. So the girls were 'free' and went back to Dresden, and their music, and the university and the young men. They loved their respective young men, and their respective young men loved them with all the passion of mental attraction. All the wonderful things the young men thought and expressed and wrote, they thought and expressed and wrote for the young women. Connie's young man was musical, Hilda's was technical. But they simply lived for their young women. In their minds and their mental excitements, that is. Somewhere else they were a little rebuffed, though they did not know it. It was obvious in them too that love had gone through them: that is, the physical experience.

It is curious what a subtle but unmistakable transmutation it makes, both in the body of men and women: the woman more blooming, more subtly rounded, her young angularities softened, and her expression either anxious or triumphant: the man much quieter, more inward, the very shapes of his shoulders and his buttocks less assertive, more hesitant. (Lawrence 6-8)Through those lines the characters seem to to have freedom but instead of feeling free to do whatever they want to do, the characters seem prisoned by the environment they live in, even the Chatterleys that seem to have everything are not that free:The Chatterleys, two brothers and a sister, had lived curiously isolated, shut in with one another at Wragby, in spite of all their connexions.

A sense of isolation intensified the family tie, a sense of the weakness of their position, a sense of defencelessness, in spite of, or because of, the title and the land. They were cut o from those industrial Midlands in which they passed their lives. And they were cut off from their own class by the brooding, obstinate, shut-up nature of Sir Geoffrey, their father, whom they ridiculed, but whom they were so sensitive about.

We also can see the narrator describes Connie’s situation as if she does not feel free with Clifford:“Connie and he were attached to one another, in the aloof modern way. He was much too hurt in himself, the great shock of his maiming, to be easy and flippant. He was a hurt thing. And as such Connie stuck to him passionately. “ (19)Emphasize by these lines:“Yet he was absolutely dependent on her, he needed her every moment. Big and strong as he was, he was helpless. He could wheel himself about in a wheeled chair, and he had a sort of bath-chair with a motor attachment, in which he could put slowly around the park. But alone he was like a lost thing. He needed Connie to be there, to assure him he existed at all. “ (19-20)“Only this life with Clifford, this endless spinning of webs of yarn, of the minutiae of consciousness, these stories Sir Malcolm said there was nothing in, and they wouldn’t last.

Why should there be anything in them, why should they last? Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. Sufficient unto the moment is the APPEARANCE of reality. “ (24)“So the men, especially those no longer young, were very nice to her indeed. But, knowing what torture poor Clifford would feel at the slightest sign of flirting on her part, she gave them no encouragement at all. She was quiet and vague, she had no contact with them and intended to have none. Clifford was extraordinarily proud of himself.“His relatives treated her quite kindly. She knew that the kindliness indicated a lack of fear and that these people had no respect for you unless you could frighten them a little. But again she had no contact. She let them be kindly and disdainful, she let them feel they had no need to draw their steel in readiness. She had no real connexion with them. “ (24-25)“Her room was the only gay, modern one in the house, the only spot in Wragby where her personality was at all revealed. Clifford had never seen it, and she asked very few people up.

Now she and Michaelis sit on opposite sides of there and talked. She asked him about himself, his mother and father, his brothers...other people were always something of a wonder to her, and when her sympathy was awakened she was quite devoid of class feeling. Michaelis talked frankly about himself, quite frankly, without affectation, simply revealing his bitter, indifferent, stray-dog’s soul, then showing a gleam of revengeful pride in his success.’But why are you such a lonely bird?’ Connie asked him; and again he looked at her, with his full, searching, hazel look.’Some birds ARE that way,’ he replied. Then, with a touch of familiar irony: ‘but, look here, what about yourself? Aren’t you by way of being a lonely bird yourself?’ Connie, a little startled, thought about it for a few moments, and then she said: ‘Only in a way! Not altogether, like you!’ ’Am I altogether a lonely bird?’ he asked, with his queer grin of a smile, as if he had a toothache; it was so wry, and his eyes were so perfectly unchangingly melancholy, or stoical, or disillusioned or afraid. “ (33-34)

From the passages above I can see that Connie cannot show her true self in Wragby for that she needs her private space to get the freedom to show her true character and in my opinion, this event presents the critique in freedom of expression. Lawrence also shows the rebellion to get the freedom by bringing up sexual discourse in the novel and that against the Victorian norms. As stated “In Culture and Environment Leavis and Thompson also quoted a key passage from D. H. Lawrence on the ugliness of the suburbanized environment and the process whereby ‘the industrial England blots out agricultural England. One meaning blots out another.

The new England blots out the old England. And the continuity is not organic, but mechanical.’ 21 Lawrence's resistance to industrial modernity, his search for something primitive, strong, and organic, led him in some troubling directions. His novel Kangaroo, published in 1923, took a robust interest in an Australian fascist leader who preached the return to nature. Lawrence's lifelong wandering in rebellion against ‘the new England’ eventually led him to the far southwest of the United States. He ended his life in New Mexico, where the values of the old frontier still endured. By the end of the twentieth century, this same American West had become the home of both radical environmentalists fighting to protect the receding wilderness at any cost and that anti-modern, anti-culture, anti-centralizing fringe of survivalists whose atavism was epitomized by the bombing of the Federal Building in Oklahoma City.”

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Thus, through the sexual discourse Lawrence critiques the situation where there was no freedom of expression.

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Craving for Freedom in the Lady Chatterley’s Lover. (2018, Jun 16). GradesFixer. Retrieved May 19, 2024, from
“Craving for Freedom in the Lady Chatterley’s Lover.” GradesFixer, 16 Jun. 2018,
Craving for Freedom in the Lady Chatterley’s Lover. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 19 May 2024].
Craving for Freedom in the Lady Chatterley’s Lover [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2018 Jun 16 [cited 2024 May 19]. Available from:
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