Let Me Repeat Myself, Please, Please

A consistent rhetorical thorn keeps jabbing me as I read Lady Chatterley’s Lover. Throughout the book — which slips through several points of view — Lawrence keeps having his characters repeat phrases. Here, for instance, is the gamekeeper Oliver Mellors: “The only thing was not to care, not to care about the wages.” Why does Lawrence throw out this rhetorical quirk?

In grad school we talked about the modernist novel and the breakdown of the narrative line, particularly when writers were trying to represent the Woolfian “halo of perception.” Is the repetition Lawrence’s way of showing the mind in operation, of the brain repeating itself as it wanders and sorts thoughts? If so, it seems to diminish the characters because each character has this tic in his or her thought processes.


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