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Lady Chatterley's Lover | Chapter 2 | Summary

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Summary

Connie Chatterley and Clifford Chatterley arrive at Wragby in autumn 1920. The nearest village is Tevershall, which comprises miles and miles of grimy and dreary-looking houses and a perpetual haze of steam and smoke from the Tevershall coal pit. Connie finds nothing appealing about the area and does her best to ignore it. In contrast Clifford prefers Wragby to London because he likes the country's grimness. She and Clifford spend most of their time at Wragby and have little contact with the villagers, who are working-class people.

Clifford uses a wheelchair to move about Wragby. Every day he gets dressed up in his expensive clothes, but he doesn't carry himself like a self-confident young man. He is not yet at ease with his disability. At times he is shy and unconfident. At other times he is arrogant and self-assured. Connie sometimes wonders about his lack of connection with other people. He looks down on the miners and considers them objects, not fellow human beings.

After Clifford takes up writing stories, Connie helps him with his work, and they spend much of their time talking over his ideas. He writes about people he knows but with the same sense of disconnection he has to everything, as if he is writing about people and events in a vacuum. Connie considers his stories cleverly written but meaningless. It's extremely important, though, to Clifford that everyone think highly of them. They are published in magazines, and he takes any criticism personally.

The environment at Wragby is cheerless. The servants are elderly; the house filled with empty rooms no one uses. When Clifford's sister, Emma Chatterley, comes to visit, she is pleased to see Connie has not made her own mark on the house. Emma resents Connie for usurping her relationship with her brother and considers Connie an intruder into the Chatterley family. She wants to preserve the traditions and way of life—Chatterley life—at Wragby as it has been for years. When Connie's father, Sir Malcolm Reid, comes to Wragby for his first visit, he is less pleased. He is unimpressed with Clifford's writing and says there is nothing in his stories. During his next visit Connie's father expresses his concern she is becoming a demi-vierge, or half virgin. He tells Clifford the lack of sex does not suit Connie; she is becoming thin and angular. This angers Clifford, and even though he wants to say something to Connie, he doesn't. Although they are intimate, they don't talk about sex. Plus he considers himself and Connie "very much at one" in their minds, even though "bodily they were non-existent to one another." He prizes their cerebral intimacy and doesn't place any importance on physical intimacy.

For the first two years everything focuses on Clifford and his writing. Connie does not mind; she makes his interests hers. When she isn't absorbed in his work, she fills her time with walks in the woods around the house. Life takes on a resemblance to a storybook, but it doesn't seem real; it is without any substance. Wragby is her whole world, and it consists of Clifford and his endless stories. Things change when young men friends start hanging out at Wragby. Clifford invites former classmates and people he hopes will praise or advance his books. Life at Wragby becomes an endless routine of entertaining, filled with the young men's talk and Clifford's books. Connie plays the hostess rather than participate in the talks. She feels no sense of connection with the visitors but is content to sit in the background and listen to their ideas.

Analysis

Wragby is a sterile place. The elderly servants represent the past, the old, the loss of vibrancy. The estate represents decay. It is a symbol of old England, not of a vibrant, growing country. It is stuck in time rather than moving into the 20th century. The Midlands is coal country. It is surrounded by the ugliness of mining. The Chatterleys and villagers inhabit this same area of England, but they live in very separate worlds. Clifford Chatterley wants to preserve the old England and isolate himself from the realities of the ugly mining village and the villagers.

Connie passively accepts her very narrow and limited world. She accepts living at the bleak and depressing Wragby because it is her husband's desire to live there. She avoids the villagers because of their barely hidden contempt. She takes no charge of the estate and is content to let the servants do as they always have done. She observes but is not involved in the nightly discussions. The only times she actively gets involved in anything is when she shares ideas with Clifford about his stories, but the interchanges are about his work, his ideas. She has no work of her own, no interests of her own. Connie seems to be satisfied to not be a more active participant in her life. She does not push for more. Nor does she seem to object to the lack of physical intimacy with her husband. She accepts—and even embraces—the world of ideas and considers the world of the mind superior to that of the body.

Something unsettles Connie about this life, though. It doesn't seem quite real. She knows she is out of touch with other people and perhaps even herself, but it is not a pressing issue, and she is not concerned with changing her situation or doing something about it.

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