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TitleA Woman Has to Live Her Life, or Live to Repent Not Having Lived it.
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D.H. Lawrence wrote about women in a way that was relatively unknown in the

beginning of the twentieth century. This essay explores the female characters of

Lawrence’s novels The Rainbow, Women in Love and Lady Chatterley’s Lover and the

importance of sexual experience in their development and presentation. From the

publication of The Rainbow in 1915 and Women in Love in 1920 until the final version

of Lady Chatterley’s Lover in 1928, society, as well as Lawrence himself, had advanced

significantly in regards to women and their sexual freedom. However, Lawrence’s

female characters in these novels all had one thing in common; they were unaffected by

social constructions of female behaviour and sexuality. Ursula Brangwen, Gudrun

Brangwen and Connie Chatterley all experienced love and sex before marriage and their

sexual experiences had a great impact on their character development. Lawrence

emphasised the importance of young women experiencing sex in order to find

themselves and become happy. Lawrence’s characters also express feelings of all kinds

of love, as siblings and in friendship, as well as exploring love between two individuals

of the same sex. Lawrence approached the characters in the three respective novels in

different ways, which were dependent on his own personal development and advances

in his writing style. Many of the characters in Lawrence’s novels are believed to echo

his personal beliefs, though in various different ways. His approach towards female

sexuality was unique and ground breaking while also enraging and shocking to some of

his readers. Lawrence’s novels faced much criticism due to his way of writing about

women, as well as the language he used to do so. Lawrence’s language also developed,

from being relatively discreet and modest in The Rainbow and Women in Love to having

crude words and explicit sexual descriptions in Lady Chatterley’s Lover. Lawrence’s

writing was the first of its kind and impacted the approach to female sexuality in British

fiction of the later twentieth century.

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Works Cited

Dix, Carol. D.H Lawrence and Women. Macmillan Press. 1980. Print.

Edwards, Justin D. “At the End of The Rainbow: Reading Lesbian Identities in D.H.

Lawrence’s Fiction.” The International Fiction Review, 2000,

Gordon, David J. “Sex and Language in D. H. Lawrence.” Twentieth Century

Literature, vol. 27, no. 4, 1981, pp. 362–375. JSTOR,


Hall, Radclyffe. The Well of Loneliness. 1928. Wordsworth Classics, 2014. Print.

Lawrence, David Herbert. Lady Chatterley’s Lover. 1928. Bantam Classics, 1968.


Lawrence, David Herbert. “Prologue to Women in Love.” The Rainbow and

Women in Love, edited by Colin Clarke, Macmillan Press, 1976, pp. 42–64.

Casebook Series.

Lawrence, David Herbert. The Rainbow. 1915. Wordsworth Classics, 1995. Print.

Lawrence, David Herbert. Women in Love. 1920. Wordsworth Classics, 1992. Print.

Malraux, André, and Melvin Friedman. “D. H. Lawrence and Eroticism: Concerning

Lady Chatterley's Lover.” Yale French Studies, no. 11, 1953, pp. 55–

58. JSTOR,

Pritchard, R.E. D.H. Lawrence: Body of Darkness. Hutchinson University Library.

1971. Print.

Worthen, John. D.H. Lawrence. Edward Arnold/Routledge. 1991. Print.

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