Is that a very limp sausage in your pocket, or are you just indifferent to me?
the novel opens, Connie and Clifford have just made it back to Wragby
after Clifford's recovery from his World-War-I-inflicted wound. Wragby
is ugly; its coal-mine is worse; and Clifford is impotent, and also kind
of a jerk. Welcome home, Connie.
Like a Virgin
at Wragby isn't much of a life. It's more of a half-life, or a
non-life, or, well, as Lawrence puts it, "a life: in the void. For the
rest it was non-existence" (2.35). The people of the Tevershall village
don't like Connie; Clifford's friends patronize her; and Clifford
himself sees her as a glorified nurse. Both Connie's dad and her sister
Hilda worry about her, but they come up with different solutions: Hilda
takes her to London to perk her up, while her dad thinks she should take
a lover. Mostly, she spends a lot of time looking at flowers and
thinking about how much her life stinks.
Connie follows her dad's advice and picks up a boyfriend, the Irish
playwright Michaelis. Like most new relationships, it's great for a
while: lots of sex, no strings attached. And then it ends in flames,
when Connie rejects Michaelis's marriage proposal. He mutters some nasty
stuff about frigid women, and Connie swears off men. Like a Virgin, Pt.
Let's let D. H. speak for himself:
then began again the unspeakable motion that was not really motion, but
pure deepening whirlpools of sensation swirling deeper and deeper
through all her tissue and consciousness, till she was one perfect
concentric fluid of feeling, and she lay there crying unconscious
inarticulate cries […] The man heard it beneath him with a kind of awe,
as his life sprang out into her. (10.305)
The climax of the
book is, literally, a climax—and not just any climax, but a simultaneous
one, which Mellors practically gloats about. We get it, Mellors: you're
good in bed. Congratulations; have a cookie, and please wear a condom.
there's no going back now for Connie. She definitely can't return to
Clifford, even if it means giving up Wragby and her title and being
plain old "Mrs. Oliver Mellors."
Connie Gets Her Groove Back
Sex is awesome,
and Connie has it at every opportunity: in the forest, in a rainstorm,
in the hut, in Mellors's cottage. She even sneaks out like a teenager to
spend the night with her boyfriend. Obviously this can't last. We're
not in a Harlequin Romance here; this is Serious Literature, so
someone's going to get shamed.
Call the Tabloids
Connie's off in Venice trying to convince her family to help her get a
divorce, Mellors's drunken wife shows up (naked in his bed, to be
precise) and causes trouble. She figures out that Mellors's lover is
Connie and starts spreading it around the neighborhood. It's ugly, and
it gets uglier. When Connie returns, she tells Clifford that the story
is true, and he says some truly awful things about animals and the lower
The Waiting Game
At the end
of the novel, Mellors and Connie are living happily in a cottage in the
north of England, with their adorable little baby. Except not. Connie
is still trapped at Wragby and Mellors is stuck learning how to milk
cows while they wait for Mellors's divorce. Happy endings are so last century.