Places: Lady Chatterley’s Lover

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

First published: 1928

Type of work: Novel

Type of plot: Psychological realism

Time of work: 1910-1920

Asterisk denotes entries on real places.

Places Discussed*Dresden

*Dresden. Lady Chatterley’s LoverGerman city known for centuries as one of Europe’s most beautiful and culturally refined cities. It serves as the place in which the novel’s protagonist Constance Chatterley gets her first taste of the delights of social interaction and sexual awareness. Constance’s father sends her there to summer at age fifteen, and it is in Dresden that Constance acquires a taste for art and politics, as well as the view that her burgeoning sexuality is an essential facet of her identity. In Dresden’s shaded parks and secluded alcoves she has a number of brief but passionate sexual encounters and returns to England a mature young woman in full command of her sensuality.

Tevershall

Tevershall. Fictional village in the center of England’s coal-producing region where most of the novel is set. Like many of the early twentieth century English coal towns on which it is modeled, Tevershall stands in ironic contrast to the traditionally idyllic, pastoral depiction of the English countryside offered in most nineteenth century Romantic literature. Lawrence describes the village as “trailed in utter hopeless ugliness . . . and willful, blank dreariness.” After Constance marries landed aristocrat Sir Clifford Chatterley, whose emotional and sexual indifference to her fuels the novel’s central conflict, Tevershall serves as a fitting backdrop for the emotional impoverishment she suffers while living there. She regards the “soulless ugliness” of Tevershall as “unbelievable and not to be thought about” although she is never completely able to remove it from her mind.

Wragby Hall

Wragby Hall. Sprawling but undistinguished manor house in England’s Midlands district into which Constance moves after marrying Chatterley. Lawrence describes the dwelling as “a long low old house in brown stone, begun about the middle of the eighteenth century, and added on to, till it was a warren of a place without much distinction.” Wragby’s warrenlike drabness reflects the desolation Constance feels while living there, trapped in a loveless marriage to an aloof, passionless aristocrat. Although Wragby stands in a stately wood overlooking the Tevershall colliery, the house has ironically fallen into the same state of neglect and obsolescence as the coal pits below it.

Gamekeeper’s cottage

Gamekeeper’s cottage. Spartan one-person dwelling nestled on the far side of the Wragby estate in a stand of thick woods in which the estate’s caretaker (“gamekeeper”), Oliver Mellors, lives. The cottage is the site of numerous sexual encounters between Constance and Oliver, an itinerant former soldier. (Largely because of the sexually explicit scenes set in the cottage, the novel was banned from publication in the United States in its unexpurgated form until 1959.) Lawrence describes the cottage and its environs in beautifully lyrical terms–a stark contrast to the unflattering portrait he paints of Wragby Hall. Images of sunlight, birth, and hopefulness pervade his depiction of the cottage, reflecting how Constance views the passionate sexual reawakening she experiences under its roof with the reclusive but sensitive Mellors.

*Venice

*Venice. Italian city to which Constance escapes toward the end of the novel after she discovers that Mellors has made her pregnant. As a ruse to convince her husband that she has been impregnated by an exotic stranger, and not by one of his own hirelings, Constance arranges a vacation in Venice with her sister citing health problems brought on by Wragby’s dampness.

Venice is famed for its endless canals and romantic hideaways, but in adulthood Constance does not find the refuge in them she might have in her adolescence. Surrounded by the city’s breathtaking architecture and art, but estranged from both her husband and her lover, she finds the city merely “pleasant in a way,” its diversions “almost enjoyment” but nowhere near the sublime ecstasy she previously experienced with Mellors in the bucolic gamekeeper’s cottage.

BibliographyBalbert, Peter. D. H. Lawrence and the Phallic Imagination. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1989. A group of essays on “sexual identity and feminist misreading,” including an extensive examination of feminist critiques of the novel.Britton, Derek. Lady Chatterley: The Making of the Novel. Winchester, Mass.: Unwin Hyman, 1988. Traces Lawrence’s life from 1925 until the completion of the novel. Much detailed data.Holbrook, David. Where D. H. Lawrence Was Wrong About Woman. Cranbury, N.J.: Bucknell University Press, 1992. Discusses Lawrence’s depictions of women characters in the major fiction, with a long, concluding chapter that argues that Lawrence fails in his attempt to portray Connie Chatterley as a free woman.Squires, Michael. The Creation of “Lady Chatterley’s Lover.” Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1983. Very detailed discussion of the development of the novel through the three versions that Lawrence wrote.Squires, Michael, and Dennis Jackson, eds. D. H. Lawrence’s “Lady”: A New Look at “Lady Chatterley’s Lover.” Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1985. Twelve essays covering the social and intellectual significance, the artistic techniques, the historical context, and the relationship to other works by the author of Lady Chatterley’s Lover.
Categories: Places