Sir Clifford Chatterley
Sir Clifford Chatterley, the owner of an estate at Wragby in the Midlands of England. He has a considerable income from coal mines that his family has controlled for generations. His father, Sir Geoffrey, baronet of Wragby, reared him with the expectation that one of his sons would carry on the family tradition of service to England. When Clifford’s older brother Herbert is killed in World War I, Clifford is encouraged by his father to marry; after a brief courtship, he marries Constance Reid. A war injury paralyzes the lower half of his body. At the age of twenty-nine, though his physical handicap is devastating, he is a handsome man, with a ruddy face and broad shoulders, and always dresses in expensive clothes. Big and strong, with a quiet, hesitating voice, he is extremely dependent on his wife, who supports his ideas and assists him in the physical functions he can no longer manage by himself. In an effort to make his mark on the world, he attempts to write short fiction and is moderately praised by critics and social commentators. This work proves to be an unsatisfactory outlet for his energies and ambitions. He had studied the technicalities of coal mining in Bonn before the war and now turns his attentions to improving coal production in his mines. Although he describes himself as a “conservative anarchist,” he is interested in the working class only in terms of theoretical speculation and is very much a man of his social background. As he and his wife gradually discover the great gulf between them in terms of intellectual and temperamental matters, Clifford regresses into an almost infantile dependence on Ivy Bolton, his housekeeper; he becomes, pathetically, almost a part of the wheeled machine he uses for transportation. His hopes for an heir and his fear that Connie may leave him permanently lead him to encourage her to have contacts with other men. He sees things in an intellectual, abstract fashion, and this approach to life is instrumental in driving him and his wife apart.
Lady Constance (Connie) Reid Chatterley
Lady Constance (Connie) Reid Chatterley, Clifford’s wife. Brought up in an artistic and intellectual socialist milieu, she was educated on the Continent and had a number of casual love affairs before her marriage to Clifford at the age of twenty-three. In spite of the social refinement of her background, she has the freshness and openness of a country girl and the physical traits of her Scots ancestry, including lustrous light brown hair, a ruddy complexion, a strong, athletic body, and “big, wondering eyes” that express her curiosity about and interest in the world. She has both the intelligence to understand the world and the appetite to enjoy its physical sensations, but both of these qualities have been underused during her marriage. After four years with Clifford, she has “no gleam and sparkle in the flesh” and realizes with horror that she has not had any sexually satisfying encounters for ten years. Her affair with the playwright Michaelis is sterile and isolating because she is unable to make any connection with him beyond the emptiness of his social and intellectual ideas. Although she has been living on a country estate, her contact with...
(The entire section is 1332 words.)