A Presentation on Orwell's "Keep the Aspidistra Flying" and D.H. Lawrence's "The First Lady Chatterley".

Essay by Mia451 March 2007

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An extract from Orwell’s notebooks recounts how as a boy he used to sit and listen to his mother and her friends conversations about men. He tells how he formed the impression from listening to these discussions that women thought all men to be “large, ugly, smelly and ridiculous” and that men mistreated women in all that they did, but mainly by forcing themselves upon them sexually; in Orwell’s words “as a cock would do a hen.” The opening of chapter six seems to echo this and while it is tongue-in-cheek; it’s obvious from this passage that Orwell was addressing primarily a male audience. His women seem to slot fairly easily into just a few categories; the passive and self-sacrificing, the ridiculous, and the hard and judgmental.

The lower-class women who visit the McKechnie library are described as ‘dim-witted’ and read trashy novels but low-rate female authors while Mrs. Wisbeach and the librarian at the end seem to represent the women Orwell describes in his notebook; judgmental and self-imposing with an apparent dislike of men.

Rosemary, Julia and Gordon’s mother are docile and self-sacrificing women. It seems their self-sacrifice is intended to be an admirable quality in them, or in Rosemary in particular, as her passivity and yielding to Gordon’s unreasonable demands is praised as “good-nature” in her. Both Gordon’s mother and Rosemary take potentially serious risks for the sake of Gordon. His mother, in a sense, knowingly risks her life with a fatal outcome both to keep up the middle-class appearances which the novel is so concerned with, but also so that Gordon will get the best possible chance for making money. Rosemary forgives Gordon for what can arguably be construed as an attempted rape and submits to his wishes not to use contraception, which he describes as “filthy...