A Critical Response to Lady Chatterley's Lover
Lady Chatterley's Lover by D. H. Lawrence examines the human condition in the modern era. Through the experiences of the novel's characters, Lady Chatterley's Lover advances techniques for coping with the modern world: retreating from society and engaging in phallic sex. However, the application of these techniques is problematic as phallic sex necessitates the abandonment of social convention, while retreating from society conflicts with phallic sex.
Lawrence's tactics of retreating from society and engaging in phallic sex are a response to conditions that he perceived in England. A problem that afflicts the English people in Lawrence's novel is the pressure of social convention causing individuals to lead unhappy lives. For example, Lawrence examines the lives of colliers: "The iron and the coal had eaten deep into the bodies and souls of the men" (159). Iron and coal are also a reference to the capitalist-industrialist complex that drives the colliery, making it clear that it is capitalist values which are eating away at the men. The village of Tevershall reflects the state of its builders: "The utter negation of natural beauty, the utter negation of the gladness of life, the utter absence of the instinct for shapely beauty which every bird and beast has, the utter death of the human intuitive faculty was appalling" (152). Both the people and their dwellings have been warped by modernity. The narrator sums up the consequences of modern society for the colliers and the English people: "...a new race of mankind, over-conscious in the money and social and political side, on the spontaneous intuitive side dead, but dead. Half-corpses, all of them..." (153). The philosophy of capitalism has subsumed all other values, which results in people that are dead in life. Lady Chatterley's Lover illustrates the problem of individuals being pressured to adopt dominant social values, resulting in unsatisfying and unnatural lives.
Another problem in Lawrence's England is a plague of "cold and bloodless" (326) sex. Lawrence states that "warm blood-sex" (327) is nowhere to be found yet must be regained: "...the warm blood-sex that establishes the living and re-vitalizing connection between man and woman, how are we to get that back? I don't know. Yet get it back we must... Or we are all lost" (327). Connie and Michaelis' relationship exemplifies Lawrence's complaint about "cold and bloodless sex" (326). Michaelis is attracted to Connie because her social status would assist his pursuit of the "bitch-goddess Success" (21). Michaelis proposes marriage to Connie, but: "...somewhere she smelt the extremely unpleasant smell of the bitch-goddess" (53). Due to Michaelis' preoccupation with social achievement, there is no basis for a deep connection with Connie or himself during sex: "He was a curious and very gentle lover... and yet at the same...