Characters in D.H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover struggle to escape the inescapable confines of money, class, and power. There was once a time when nature, not industry, was the driving force of human life. Those days are long gone and irretrievable, and as such, Lawrence’s attempt to bring people back to a world ruled by the body and the forest rather than the mind and the machine ultimately proves futile. In reading Lady Chatterley’s Lover, I found myself thinking about my own life, and how the world in which I live is controlled by money. While my world is far different from Lawrence’s, both worlds are filled with people who find themselves constrained by the harsh realities of capitalism. As I reflected upon the novel and upon society itself, I pondered whether the problems that plague society are solvable, and I ultimately reached the conclusion that we have planted our feet so firmly in the capitalist system that our only choice is to trudge forward as individuals.
Money, class, power, and other such evils feed into the “machine” which D.H. Lawrence holds accountable for the repressive nature of society. Even Connie, who resides in the upper echelon of society, feels constrained due to her “forbidden” love for a man in the lower class; money is holding her back, even though—or rather, because—she has it. One thing that stood out to me when reading the novel was how Connie attempts to free herself from the clutches of her drab life. Connie’s life at Wragby is devoid of meaning and physical contact, comprised only of empty conversations with her impotent husband. At the beginning of the novel, she is only living the mental life. Later on, Connie begins to use sex as a way to break free of the mental life and embrace “the body”. Through having sex with Mellors, the wild spirit who lives in the woods, she is able to break the monotony of her stilted life as the wife of a paralyzed man of industry. However, her affair with Mellors is endangered by the discrepancy in power and status between the gamekeeper and the crippled, selfish aristocrat who happens to be Connie’s husband. Throughout the novel, just as Mellors is brought into contrast with Clifford, the body and the forest are brought into contrast with the mind and the machine. Lawrence depicts the machine as an evil creation encroaching upon what is sacred:
“The fault lay there, out there, in those evil electric lights and diabolical rattlings of engines. There, in the world of the mechanical greedy, greedy mechanism and mechanized greed, sparkling with lights and gushing hot metal and roaring with traffic, there lay the vast evil thing ready to destroy whatever did not conform. Soon it would destroy the wood, and the bluebells would spring no more. All vulnerable things must perish under the rolling and running of iron.” (115)
The forest which Connie so dearly cherishes is pure and natural, but it is therefore fragile and “vulnerable”, meaning that it is bound to “perish”...