Focusing On Sexuality And How Its Controlled English Literature Essay

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In this essay I will focus on sexuality and the way it is controlled in D. H. Lawrence's Lady Chatterley's Lover, and E.M. Forster's Maurice. Both writers explore relationships that were extremely radical for their own times and show a plea for sexual freedom. Lawrence regulates sexuality though the use of language and imagery in his text, whereas Forster brings across issues surrounding homosexuality. In Lady Chatterley's Lover Lawrence embodies sexuality through the use of striking descriptions. He felt he was "healing...a world going insane - healing this world by making us really human." [1] The books redeeming social merit insists that the sexual relationship revealed conforms to heteronormativity as it looks forward to the future. They focus on themes which encircle class and social conflict, and speak of issues that for their own times. The novels show "...reality is fundamentally absent, denied by class society, a fact which popular discourse about sex not only obscures but actively helps to bring about." [2] Both writers make use of written words in order to illustrate the concern of the societies they lived in. They use the discourse of sexuality to convey realism and bring across concerns of a sexually repressed culture. Lawrence is shown to challenge moral codes that cross social boundaries when he presents Lady Chatterley abandoning her husband and having an affair. The story evokes a positive value which shows this kind of relationship introduces a new life, a life that people could learn from. In Chapter one 'sex' can be viewed as secondary in contrast to the mental stimulation that Hilda, and Constance long for through the "love connection." The "love making and connections were only a...primitive reversion...and an anticlimax." [3] An art of masculine realm is suggested through the upper classes who are shown to train their minds therefore are unable to fulfil their sexual pleasure. Female sexuality is represented as masochistic to show that the independent modern woman can only be happy if she 'submits.' Women are shown to yield to sexual desires of men. This is evident through sexuality when she feels unattractive in front of the. Her owards her body can be seen as an indication of her weakness to man. Not being able to have a sexual relationship with her husband deteriorates her image and plays on her confidence. When she has an affair with Mellors, it allows readers to see her reliance on him for her satisfaction "Don't leave me! Don't be cross with me...suddenly she became small in his arms" [4] The word 'small' shows in reality how fragile she really is as a woman, it conveys the dominance he holds over her. Lawrence describes men as animals in the text as "They insisted on the sex thing like dogs." [5] He does this to illustrate that their animal desire in contrast to their non thinking desire is something that comes naturally to them. He states that women should not seek for pleasure, but should 'submit' while the men 'control'. This highlights the social norm of men and women during the nineteenth century. "If men are strong, women are weak...if men are dominant, women are subordinate." [6] It shows the way men and women are 'supposed' to be, therefore illustrates Lawrence's depiction of gender roles as being an important element in the way sexuality is policed within this novel. Masculinity can be viewed as a powerful and conquering figure when Mellors says "Lie down then!" and Lady Chatterley "obeys in silence." Although a tabooed relationship is shown to be apparent, the role of men as being strong and women as being weak still comes across unchanged. Mellors masculinity is expressed as a "thrushing sword" the diction emphasises his strength in contrast to her weakness. The language is very sexually overt therefore shows the reason it was perceived as obscene. The concept of obscenity according to Jan. M Ziolkowski: "...should entail consideration of words, images, acts, representations, and gestures." [7] Sexuality can be seen as being controlled through the homoerotic of Lawrence's descriptions of masculinity and beauty. In Havelock Ellis's book Studies in the Psychology of Sex he says "Of all the sexual organs the penis is without a doubt that which has most powerfully impressed the human imagination." [8] " is a dynamo to help a man on to success in the world?" [9] However he feels he is evidence of a man who has been castrated of his masculinity as he no longer has the ability to have an erection. Phallic sexuality plays a very big role in this novel regulating the view of sexuality. A sense of masculine form is developed in the text through the power of the phallus. Kate millet comments "the phallus represents the fusion of maleness and cultural power. It implies that women are a disfranchised class and that their subordinated status is inscribed on the female body." [10] The phallus is illustrated to "melt" the woman; conveying its dominance. The idea that it is the "bud of life" shows the phallus has a 'purpose' it is "the very emblem of generation." [11] In Chapter fourteen it is worshipped and shown to be creating a sense of adulation through the diction "lordly" and "proud". The personification of the phallus brings matter of ownership into question when Mellors states "That's John Thomas's' hair." It is shown to have its own identity, for that reason a bawdy nature of sexual humour comes across. Connie's reaction towards the phallus suggests her nervousness through the use of repetition and short sentences. It is very descriptive of the phallus 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." [12] Lawrence shows his vision of saving England through the use of phallic imagery in the novel. Freud commented women as well as men went through a phallic stage; he said "... this stage focused on the clitoris, which was considered to be an inferior sort of penis." [13] The attack of clitoral sexuality which intended that women only took good pleasure from clitoral stimulation is evident through Mellors description of Bertha "...she had to let herself go, and tear, tear, tear as if she had no sensation in her except in the top of her beak." Phallic women were perceived as "...wilful, depraved, and addicted to their sensation." [14] This can be seen as hugely problematic as only "lesbians" were seen as being involved in clitoral stimulation. Lawrence for that reason can be seen challenging problematic ideas which dominated the Victorian era. E.M. Forster's Maurice in contrast allows readers to view sexuality taking a totally different perspective. The novel is seen as "...the growth in awareness of a homosexual protagonist, who moves from a false solution to a truer one." [15] Maurice's relationship with Alec comes across as a relationship where sex is important to feel love, a sense of consummation is felt. Whilst with Clive his feelings of a 'platonic love' come across as unconsummated. The result of this platonic affection Clive feels can be seen as deriving from the domination of a patriarchal class system, indicating it can be nothing more but "affection, friendship and non sexual love." [16] Both relationships although distinct, allow readers to view Maurice as a homosexual individual. The types of sexuality Forster embodies through the main protagonists experiences are a 'physical' and 'spiritual' one. When Clive attempts to express his feelings, he presents Maurice with Plato's Symposium; this book " a discussion on the nature of love." [17] The power of literature comes across as a dominating factor, it is a way Forster evokes a sense of spirituality in the text. Lady Chatterley's Lover can be seen more focused on the regulation of phallic sexuality, whereas Forster's novel Maurice shows sexuality as being controlled by social expectations. Marcia Seabury said "Maurice and Lady Chatterley's Lover focus with nature, problems because of different backgrounds, and problems with connection to the larger world..." [18] Forster illustrates that a homosexual identity can challenge the regulation of a patriarchal system through the portrayal of a relationship that was considered taboo. Forster depicts Maurice to comprise unusual characteristics in relation to a heterosexual male in the novel; this is evident through his existence in a male dominated environment. When it does not come across as a surprise to readers as he is shown to exist in a world which obstructs knowledge of living life the correct way. "...He spoke of male and female, created by order that the earth might be peopled." [19] Mr. Ducie tries to fulfil a father's role in this speech; it conveys the loss of a male role model in Maurice's life. Moreover, Forster represents male friendship through the use of a 'real' and 'ideal' world. It appears as a religion in the book which suggests certain behaviour and attitudes. The naked boy in Maurice's dream associates with the 'ideal' while the physical contact of bullying associates with the 'real'. There is a blur between what is seen as friendship and what is seen as an erotic relationship in the novel. "They slept separately at first, as if proximity harassed them, but towards morning a movement began." [20] There is a closeness the reader is left to assume through Forster's description. In relation to Lady Chatterley's Lover there is far less detail put into the description of sexual behaviour, the reader is left to distinguish the relationship using their own imagination. The language alongside the relationships comes across as being controlled by society; Forster does not go into detail, whereas Lawrence does. Maurice's dream of George and the dream about companionship shows his 'friend' as someone who is eternally bound in a relationship with him, a sort of ambiguity comes across. "Forster represents Maurice's desires for men as originating in his unconscious." [21] The dreams can be a constant reminder of what is happening to Maurice, the change he is experiencing. The language is problematic as it exists on a spectrum of male friendship. Therefore sexuality can be seen as being controlled through the use of male friendship creating a gateway to a homosexual identity. In conclusion, sexuality is policed in Forster and Lawrence's work in very diverse ways. Although they take different measures in presenting ideas of sexuality, both still have in common the concept of class and structure which dominates the relationships. They depict upper class individuals who seek a "different" kind of relationship with lower class gamekeepers. Lawrence portrays the relationship between Connie and Clifford; he employs struggle and coming to terms with a sex-less life. For that reason he excites his passion of sexuality through the relationship of Lady Chatterley and the gamekeeper. The importance of the novel is to illustrate; as Lawrence himself "...became convinced that sexual repression was causing the deterioration of English civilization." [22] Maurice on the other hand, comes across as a novel that reveals the constraints of a patriarchal class system on a homosexual identity. Unlike Lady Chatterley's Lover, Forster polices sexuality through the readers constant of the different While Maurice is expected to maintain a heteronormative identity, longing for a homosexual relationship. When he announces his surname as "Scudder" in the novel, it is apparent for readers to view his abandonment of society's restrictions, allowing him to unveil his sexuality. Both novels are shown to be heading towards a new era of independence and liberation.