Date of Award

8-2014

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts

Department

English

Program

English

First Advisor/Chairperson

Professor Jason Markle

Second Advisor

Dr. Lisa Eckert

Abstract

Criticism of D. H. Lawrence’s novel, Lady Chatterley’s Lover, tends to focus on issues of sexual awakening, the natural world, and figurations of gender and power. However, little examination has been done on the instances of language as a rejection of authority through the character of Mellors, a returning soldier and a gamekeeper. In the novel, Mellors speaks both a “broad” vernacular as well as “proper” English and this linguistic variance reveals two significant aspects of Mellors’ character. Here, I will implement Jacques Derrida’s theory of differance to show that just as the “a” in differance, as a graphic symbol, signifies deferment, movement, difference, division and connection, so does Mellors, as a graphic representation, function in the same way—as a metaphysical figure of resistance through his various subversions of meaning-making—through his speech, dress, and position in society. Second, I will demonstrate through Judith Butler’s notions of linguistic vulnerability that Mellors’ usage of the vernacular operates as a disruption of the linguistic ritual and acts as a form of abuse and rebellion. The variations of Mellors’ language render the listener (the aristocracy) vulnerable as his speech defies their expectations. In this way, Mellors displaces the classist power dynamic as he is the one that controls and subverts the moment of circumscription.

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