Connie Chatterley moves to Wragby with her husband, Clifford Chatterley, after he recovers from a war injury that leaves him partially paralyzed and impotent sexually. Over time she grows restless and dissatisfied with her marriage and life at Wragby. She has an affair with one of the young intellectual visitors and then falls in love with her husband's gamekeeper, Oliver Mellors. Her plan to leave her husband so she can live with Mellors is accelerated when news of their affair becomes public. Pregnant, she moves to London while waiting for Mellors's divorce.
Oliver Mellors returns to his hometown with the desire for a job that allows a modicum of solitude and independence. He finds it as the gamekeeper at Wragby, but his privacy is shattered when Connie Chatterley discovers his hut and spends time there. They fall in love and then plan how to clear up the complications in their lives so they can be together.
Clifford Chatterley is an intellectual and prizes his upper-class status and the life of the mind. He spends his time writing short stories before turning his attention to plans to revitalize his coal mine. He prizes his life with his wife, Connie Chatterley, because she is part of the fabric of his life rather than for any physical or emotional intimacy. As Connie withdraws from him, he grows closer to his nurse, Mrs. Bolton.
A widow, Mrs. Ivy Bolton still loves and cherishes her deceased husband, Ted Bolton. Mrs. Bolton is a member of the working class but strives for upper mobility. Both enamored and resentful of the upper class, she develops a unique relationship with Clifford Chatterley, in which he has an infantile-like dependence on her.