Lady Chatterley's Lover is the story of Constance (Connie) Reid, an intelligent woman, raised as a cultured bohemian of the upper-middle class, and was introduced to intellectual and sexual liaisons as a teenager. She was married to Sir Clifford Chatterley and became Lady Constance Chatterley. Clifford, a handsome and well-built man, who has inherited Wragby Hall, an estate in the East Midlands of England, known for its coal mining industry. After a month's honeymoon, he is sent back to war, where he ends up paralyzed from the waist down, impotent. He is released from Hospital after two years and then moves to the Wragby Estate with his wife.
Clifford has an ambition to become a successful writer and invites intellectuals at their home. He is debarred of having sex with his wife, but hints to her that he would like to have a child through her, without knowing the name of the actual father. Gradually, Constance feels isolated and restless. Though she is interested in men for their intellectual conversations, she falls into despair, as she longs for real passionate human contact and the invited intellectuals at their home seem scared of true feelings and true passion. She had sexual experience before her marriage and she desperately started an affair with Michaelis, one of their guests and a writer. She learns to hold Michaelis inside of her after he climaxes, and to climax herself after he has finished. However, deep inside her, she still feels empty with Michaelis.
In fact, lack of sex caused Constance to drift away from Clifford. When Clifford returned from the war paralyzed, she stayed by his side to love and care for him. But, she became restless and disgusted, as Clifford tried more and more to hang onto her. Desperately she started to look elsewhere for mental and physical stimulation. She realized that conversation alone could not satisfy her sexual desires.
Michaelis was intellectual, handsome and sexually attractive to Constance. She saw what her body craved in Michaelis, and followed it accordingly. They were friends before sex, but their relationship changed with their sexual activity. Before they became sex partners, they were intellectual companions, but afterward, Constance got exactly what she wanted and Michaelis was left broken-hearted. Mentally and physically Constance got what she wanted from Michaelis, but he could not completely satisfy her needs. He was not passionate enough to stimulate her and when he wanted to marry her, she refused blatantly.
During this time, Hilda, Lady Chatterley’s sister comes to visit her and notices that she does not look well. At her insistence Clifford reluctantly appoints a nurse to look after him, to make the things easier for Constance. Gradually, Clifford falls into a deep dependence on the nurse, Mrs. Bolton, his manhood fading into an infantile reliance.
One day while walking leisurely in the wood on the Wragby Estate, Lady Constance finds the hut of the gamekeeper and accidentally finds him washing his private parts. The sight makes her excited, she comes back home and examines her naked body in her room. She feels curiously drawn to Oliver Mellors, the gamekeeper. Despite several chance meetings, Mellors keeps her at a distance, reminding her of her social status and the class distance between them. On several occasions they have sex, but still Constance feels a distance between them, despite their physical closeness. However, one day they accidentally have sex on the forest floor and they experience simultaneous orgasms. This is a profoundly moving experience for Constance and she begins to adore Mellors, she feels that they have connected on some deep sensual level.
Constance continues to return to the wood and the hut to have sex with Mellors, though meanwhile Mrs. Bolton starts to suspect that she has a lover. It is rather a learning process for her, she has to learn to put away her individuality and her imposed hypocrisy to be engaged in this animal act. She became pregnant and decides to go to Italy with her sister and father, where she will pretend to have taken a lover. She knows that her lover from a lower class, as the keeper is, would be unacceptable to Clifford.
In the meantime, Mellors' wife returns because Mellors has asked for a divorce. She starts to accuse Mellors of his infidelity and Clifford fires Mellors, as he does not want this scandalous woman to be spreading more malicious rumors. Mellors moves to London. Connie meets up with him in London on her return from Italy and writes to Clifford that she is pregnant and would like a divorce.
In reply to her letter, Clifford asks her to visit Wragby Hall at least for once. Constance informs him that the father of her child is a man named Duncan. However, Clifford does not believe that she is really in love with any Duncan. Finally, Constance admits that she is pregnant with Mellors' baby, but Clifford refuses to give her a divorce. Though he becomes incredibly offended, Clifford refuses to divorce her. Lady Constance points out that her illegitimate child will inherit Wragby Hall. Yet, he refuses to change his decision and Connie leaves Wragby Hall without having the divorce from Clifford.
The novel ends with Mellors working on a farm, waiting for the divorce from his wife, while Constance lives with her sister, also waiting with the hope that, in the end, they will be together. It ends with them still apart, but anticipating being together in the near future. Constance Chatterley successfully got exactly what she wanted from all the men in her life. She faced social criticisms, but did not pay any heed to that and kept her eye on the prize, true fulfillment in a relationship. The relationship cost her nearly everything, but she was finally happy.
Lady Chatterley’s Lover (1928), the famous novel by the English author D.H.Lawrence, was first published in Florence, Italy to avoid possible censorship and its copies were mailed to the subscribers in England. Consequently, thousands of pirated editions were published. It was immediately banned in the United Kingdom and the United States for its vivid portrayal of sexual explicitness. The US Customs confiscated copies of the novel, even from the travelers returning from Europe. Even after thirty years of its first publication, it was available only in its censored form. Finally, in1960 Penguin Books Ltd in England announced its intention to openly publish the first uncensored British edition of Lady Chatterley’s Lover and was sued by the director of Public Prosecutions. However, despite strong opposition by the prosecutor, the jury acquitted Penguin Books of all charges and thus paved the way to openly publish the novel in its unexpurgated form. It was also banned in Australia from 1929 to 1965.
Lady Chatterley’s Lover (1928) was undoubtedly too scandalous for its time due to its explicit descriptions of sexual intercourse and the depiction of a woman’s experience of the exquisite pleasure of good sex. However, it was written in the post WW I period, when the prevailing traditional ideas were weakened, the old values were shattered and the people wanted to become free from the mechanical life with old social norms and hypocrisy. The plot of the novel represented a society where human impulses were dormant under social pressure. Lawrence intended to replace the repressive reality with a relationship based on human intimacy. He wanted to establish that artificial division of class system cannot bottle up the basic human instincts of love and desire. Lady Chatterley’s Lover reflects the author’s belief that men and women should ignore the imposed social norms and follow the impulsive instincts of passionate love.