Policing Sexuality In Lady Chatterleys Lover And Maurice English Literature Essay

The text was perceived as an obscene piece of writing. The concept of obscenity according to critic Jan. M Ziolkowski: “…should entail consideration of words, images, acts, representations, and gestures.” [] When Lady Chatterley abandons her husband and has an affair in the story, it is clear for us to understand that the writer is challenging moral codes that cross social boundaries at a time of sexual repression. The story evokes a kind of redeeming social merit, which shows that this kind of relationship is trying to save England. The language in the text is very sexually overt; however the aesthetic product of the novel is well written and well constructed. In chapter one of Lady Chatterley’s Lover, it is interesting to note that ‘sex’ can be seen as secondary in contrast to the mental stimulation that Hilda, and Constance long for through the “love connection”. The gender role of women comes across as a dominant and superior factor as they are shown to yield to sexual desires of men; this shows that women should not seek for pleasure, but should in fact ‘submit’ while the men ‘control’. Lawrence tries to depict men with animalistic features; he does this to convey their animal desire in contrast to their non thinking desire is something shown to come naturally to them. Female sexuality is represented as masochistic in order to show that the independent modern woman can only be happy if she ‘submits’. Female sexuality in the novel is entirely focused on the main protagonist Connie. Connie’s first meeting with her sexuality comes in to perspective when she meets Mellor’s, she stands naked in front of her mirror and looks at her body. It is almost as if she explores herself for the first time. She feels old and has not really paid any attention to her looks during her marriage; her abandonment towards her body can therefore be seen as a sign of her weakness to men. She is a woman who is highly aware of herself early in life but along the way she becomes more distant to herself and her body. When Connie gives herself up to Mellor’s, it shows how she is dependent on him for her fulfilment and satisfaction.

In chapter twelve of the novel, it is evident for masculinity to be seen as a conquering figure. The male body is illustrated like a “thrushing sword”, the choice of words Lawrence uses can show the emphasis he wants to create of mans strength in contrast to woman’s weakness. The homoerotic of Lawrence’s descriptions give reference to masculinity, tenderness and beauty all at the same time. Havelock Ellis a former teacher who studied human sexual behaviour wrote a book called Studies in the Psychology of Sex. There is a discussion in Ellis’s book of a man’s sexuality being a force that helps him become successful in the world. The penis is therefore considered a power symbol, Ellis commented that: “Of all the sexual organs the penis is without a doubt that which has most powerfully impressed the human imagination.” [] When Clifford is struck by his injury from war, he appears and feels almost dead. During a conversation between Clifford and his friends, Tommy Dukes asks him: “Do you think sex is a dynamo to help a man on to success in the world?” It is clear to note that Clifford does think it is very important to have a sexual relationship as a man, but he is too afraid to admit his feelings to his friends. He feels he is evidence of a man with neither intimate relations nor the ability to have an erection, therefore feels he is not fully a man.

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A sense of masculine form is developed in the text through the power of the phallus’s depiction which “melts” the woman. Phallic sexuality is a very important idea which comes across in this text. Kate millet a critic talks about phallus and comments that “the phallus represents the fusion of maleness and cultural power. It implies by extension that women are a disfranchised class and that their subordinated status is inscribed on the female body.” [] The male is exposed to be ‘dominant’, yet the phallus in the book is shown to be “innocent”, through this imagery Lawrence may be trying to depict the man as a child, subservient in some sense. The phallus comes across as innocent through the idea that it is the “bud of life”, it is a source of creation “it is the very emblem of generation.” [] The woman can be seen worshipping the phallus as it is personified and named “John Thomas”, it can come across as ruling through the diction “lordly” and “proud”. The matter of ownership can come in to question when Mellor’s says “It’s John Thomas’s’ hair” and not his, this maybe a way Lawrence tries to show the phallus as having its own identity. Connie’s reaction seems to be quite terrified when she sees the phallus; the language suggests nervousness through the use of repetition and short sentences she uses. It is very descriptive of the genitals however is silenced on the subject of sex. For Lawrence “…mere sex had too much of a cerebral taint to make it the ‘saving’ force that ‘saviour’ Lawrence’s phallic reality was.” [] Sigmund Freud felt that as well as men, girls went through this phallic stage he felt that: “… this stage focused on the clitoris, which was considered to be an inferior sort of penis.” [] The attack of clitoral sexuality, which intended that women only take good pleasure from phallic penetration, was hugely problematic at the time.

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Furthermore in E.M. Forster’s Maurice it is clear for readers to view sexuality taking a totally different form in contrast to Lady Chatterley’s Lover. The novel is seen as “an exploration of the growth in awareness of a homosexual protagonist, who moves from a false solution to a truer one.” [] The text can be a way Lawrence tries to highlight the difficulties which result from coming to terms with a homosexual identity. The juxtaposition of two very different homosexual relationships shows Maurice as a homosexual person. The two types of sexuality Lawrence presents readers with is a ‘physical’ and ‘spiritual’ one. The relationship between Clive and Maurice shows the relationship is not consummated, whereas the relationship between Alec and Maurice is consummated. Clive can be seen as someone who wants a platonic relationship; while with Alec it is more the fact that sex leads to love. When Clive tries to express his feelings for Maurice in the book, we see he gives him the book ‘Plato’s Symposium’. The power of books comes across as a dominating factor and can be a way Lawrence tries to evoke a sense of spiritual sexuality.

Lady Chatterley’s Lover seems to be more about the detailed descriptions, the imagery, and the sexually explicit language. Whereas Forster’s Maurice can be seen as a way of masking sexuality through the use of props such as books, society, class and repression. Marcia Seabury a professor commented that: “Maurice and Lady Chatterley’s Lover focus on flight from the walled garden, contact with nature, problems because of different backgrounds, and problems with connection to the larger world…” [] For Clive and Maurice, their class status positions them as equals and allows them to maintain their relationship in public as being only a friends, allowing them to mask their homosexuality. For Alec and Maurice, their difference in class presents them as each other’s direct opposite, leading others to question their association with one another. Both relationships show the possibility of maintaining a public heteronormative male identity while allowing a private homosexual male identity to remain hidden. Forster showcases the potential that homosexual identity has to undo the oppression of the patriarchal capitalist system through his portrayal of a cross-class relationship exposed in the public sphere.

Male friendship in the novel is depicted in two worlds, the ‘real’ world and the ‘ideal’ world. The naked boy in Maurice’s dream is associated with the ‘ideal’, whereas the physical contact of bullying depicts the ‘real’ world. There seems to be a blur between what is seen as friendship and what is seen as an erotic relationship. Friendship can be put forward by Lawrence as a religion in the book, a sort of religion which suggests certain behaviour and attitudes. Later on in chapter three we see the imagery evoked as sexuality becomes a grey shadow. Maurice is shown to use religious framework to interpret his dreams. The first dream of George the garden boy and the second dream about companionship shows his ‘friend’ as someone who is eternally bound in a relationship with him, a sort of ambiguity comes across. The dreams can be a constant reminder of what is happening to him, the change that is taking place. The language is quite problematic as it exists on a spectrum of male friendship. In terms of sexuality, male friendship seems to be quite a dominating and important factor in the text in order to understand Lawrence’s depiction of homosexuality.

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In conclusion, sexuality is policed in the two novels written by Forster and Lawrence in different ways. Although they take very different measures in presenting ideas of sexuality, both still have in common the concept of class and structure. Lawrence has chosen to describe the relationship between two people with a problem. They find difficulties in starting a life together and it seems to be the same problem with society at the time. After a war where so many people were involved, they must have felt lost. And try to create a good environment to live in must have been hard, Lawrence has transferred that feeling into the relationship between the lady and the gamekeeper. The important thing that Lawrence seems to be saying is, we are not afraid of the new ways; but that we embrace them and learn from them and that we also look back, preventing ourselves from future mistakes. People are different and diversity is good. The power of Maurice comes from its ability to expose the constraints of the patriarchal capitalist class system on the expression of homosexuality. While Maurice feels compelled to maintain a public identity and suppress homosexual desires in order to live up to his class position, he finds the tension in separating them impossible to avoid. Only through engaging in a cross-class relationship that abandons the constraints of the class system and removes the heteronormative mask hiding his homosexuality, can Maurice allow this private self to emerge within the public sphere. The novel makes it clear that rejection and abandonment of the class system and heteronormativity, all of which play into an understanding of masculinity, are the only ways to undo the constraints that society has imposed on individuals. The message Forster leaves us with then is to question those very structures that impede upon our very freedom of individuality.

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