Short summary - Lady Chatterley's Lover - David Herbert Lawrence

British literature summaries -

Short summary - Lady Chatterley's Lover
David Herbert Lawrence

In 1917, Constance Reid, a twenty-two-year-old girl, the daughter of the then famous Royal Academy artist Sir Malcolm Reid, married Baronet Clifford Chatterley. Six months after the wedding, Clifford, who had been participating in the war in Flanders all this time, was returning to England with severe wounds, as a result of which his lower body remained paralyzed. In 1920, Clifford and Constance returned to the Rugby estate, the Chatterleigh family estate. This is a gloomy place: a large low house, begun in the XVIII century. and gradually disfigured by extensions. The house is surrounded by a beautiful park and forest, but because of the centuries-old oaks you can see the pipes of the coal mines owned by the Chatterley, with clouds of smoke and soot. Almost at the very gates of the park, a working village begins - a pile of old, dirty houses with black roofs. Even on calm days, the air is saturated with the smell of iron, sulfur and coal. The inhabitants of Tavershal - the so-called working village - seem as ragged and gloomy as the whole area. No one here greets the owners, no one takes off their hats in front of them. On both sides there is an impenetrable abyss and some kind of dull irritation.

Clifford after the mutilation became extremely shy. True, with others he is either insulting and haughty, then modestly and almost timidly. He does not seem to be one of the modern feminine men, on the contrary, with his broad shoulders and a ruddy face, he looks even old-fashioned, always dressed extremely elegantly, but with his seeming authority and independence without Connie (short for Constance), he is completely helpless: he needs her at least in order to realize that he lives. Clifford is ambitious, he began to write stories, and Connie helps him in his work. However, according to Sir Malcolm, Connie's father, his stories, although clever, have nothing to do with them. So two years pass. After some time, Sir Malkom notices that her daughter is not at all «half-dead», she is languishing, losing weight, and tells her the idea of having a lover.

In winter, the writer Michaelis arrives in Rugby for several days. This is a young Irishman who has already made a great fortune in America with his witty plays from social life, in which he taunts London high society, at first warming it, and then, seeing it, throwing it in the trash. Despite this, in Rugby, Michaelis manages to impress Connie and for a while become her lover. However, this is not at all what her soul unconsciously languishes for. Michaelis is too selfish, he has little masculinity.

Guests often come to the estate, mostly writers, who help Chatterley advertise his work. Soon, Clifford is already considered one of the most popular writers and earns a lot of money from this. The endless conversations that occur between them about the relationship of the sexes, about their leveling tire Connie. Clifford sees the sadness and dissatisfaction of his wife and admits that he would not mind if she gave birth to a child from someone else, but on condition that between them everything would remain in the old way. During one of the walks, Clifford introduces Connie to their new forester, Oliver Mellers. He is a tall, slender, silent man of about thirty-seven, with thick blond hair and a red mustache. He is the son of a coal miner, but he has the gentleman’s manners and can even be called handsome. Connie is particularly impressed by the alienated expression in his eyes. He suffered a lot in his life, in his youth from despair, and unsuccessfully married a woman who was much older than him and later turned out to be angry and rude. In 1915, he was drafted into the army, which she used to go to another, leaving his mother in the care of her little daughter. Meller himself rose to the rank of lieutenant, but after the death of his colonel, whom he respected very much, he decided to resign and settle in his native places.

Connie loves to walk in the woods, and therefore from time to time there are her random meetings with the forester, contributing to the emergence of mutual interest, while outwardly not expressed. Connie's sister, Hilda, comes to visit her and, paying attention to her sister’s painful appearance, forces Clifford to hire a nurse and footman for himself so that his wife does not have to worry about taking care of him. With the appearance in the house of Mrs. Bolton, a very pleasant fifty-year-old woman who worked for a long time as a sister of mercy at the church parish in Tavershal, Connie gains the opportunity to devote more time to herself; with Clifford, she now spends conversations only in the evenings until ten o'clock. The rest of the time, her gloomy thoughts about the futility and aimlessness of her existence as a woman are mostly absorbed.

Walking once through the forest, Connie discovers a gatehouse for landing pheasants, next to which Mellers makes bird cages. The blows of the forester’s ax sound joyless; he is unhappy that someone has violated his loneliness. Nevertheless, he kindles a fire in the gatehouse to keep Connie warm. Watching Mellers, Connie is sitting in the gatehouse until the evening. From this day on, she becomes in the habit of daily coming to the clearing and watching birds, as chickens hatch from eggs. For her most unknown reason, Connie begins to feel her disgust at Clifford grow. In addition, she had never felt so acutely the agony of the feminine in herself. Now she has only one desire: to go to the forest to the hens. Everything else seems to her a sick dream. One evening, she runs to the gatehouse and, caressing a chicken, unable to hide his confusion and despair, drops a tear on his gentle fluff. From this evening, Mellers, having felt the touching and soulful beauty of Connie, becomes her lover. With him Connie is liberated and for the first time realizes what it means to love deeply and sensually and to be loved. Their connection lasts several months. Connie wants to have a baby from Oliver and marry him. For this, first of all, Mellers needs to file a divorce from his former wife, which he does.


Clifford leaves writing work and headlong into discussion with his manager of industrial issues and the modernization of mines. The estrangement between him and Connie is increasing. Seeing that she is no longer so necessary to her husband, as before, she decides to leave him for good. But first, she left for a month with her sister and father in Venice. Connie already knows that she is pregnant, and is looking forward to the birth of her baby. From England, news reaches her that Mellers’s wife does not want to give him a divorce and spreads rumors in the village about him. Clifford dismisses the forester, and he leaves for London. Returning from Venice, Connie meets with his lover, and both of them finally affirm their intentions to live together. For Clifford, the news that Connie is leaving him is a blow that Mrs. Bolton helps him survive. Lovers in order to gain freedom and divorce, you need to live six months away from each other. Connie at this time leaves for his father in Scotland, and Oliver works on a strange farm and is going to subsequently acquire his own. Both Connie and Oliver live the only hope for a speedy reunion.