every one of our nonconformist females was a shining Joan of Arc

longxianchen

Senior Member
chinese
Hi,
Here are some words from the novel Lady Chatterley's Lover(page 395, chapter 17) by DH Lawrence (planetebook,here):
(background: Clifford wrote to Connie and told her that Mellors' wife Bertha was gossiping about Mellors and other women..…

However, everybody listens: as I(Clifford) do myself. A dozen years ago, common decency would have hushed the thing. But common decency no longer exists, and the colliers’ wives are all up in arms and unabashed in voice. One would think every child in Tevershall, for the last fifty years, had been an immaculate conception, and every one of our nonconformist(not a member of the Church of England) females was a shining Joan of Arc.

The sentence in blue is a little confusing for me. I understand immaculate conception to be pure fetus, and shining(as in shining eyes), but Joan of Arc is an enemy of Britain. As an English, why did Clifford compliment Joan of Arc? And was Joan a girl with decency as well?
So how should I understand this sentence please?
Thank you in advance
 
  • GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    "Immaculate Conception" is a term in Catholic theology which refers to the belief that while human beings are born with the stain of original sin on their souls, the Virgin Mary, by a singular privilege and grace of the Omnipotent God, was preserved immaculate from all stain of original sin at the first instant of her conception in her mother's womb. However, many Protestants commonly and completely misunderstand the term (and Lawrence is probably also misunderstanding it in this way), and think it refers to the virgin birth of Jesus Christ (i.e., that he was conceived by the Holy Spirit, and without the action of a human father.)

    By the 1920s, Joan of Arc was not thought of as a leader of troops against England during the Hundred Years War, but was instead thought of as a heroic and admirable young virgin who acted on behalf of the will of God.

    Note that "non-conformist" does not mean merely that someone is not a member of the Church of England. Catholics, Jews, Muslims, and agnostics are all non-members of the C of E, but they are not included in the term "non-conformist." Instead, "non-conformist" refers to members of certain Protestant Christian denominations that, for one reason or another, have no connection with the established Church of England led by the Archbishop of Canterbury and his episcopal colleagues. This would include Methodists, Baptists, Quakers, and Congregationalists. There was also a strong social class correlation to being a non-conformist, as the elite were generally Anglicans, and non-conformists tended to be working class or lower middle class.

    (Cross-posted)
     
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    Delvo

    Senior Member
    American English
    You also should be aware that the "shining" in this kind of phrase does not refer to anyone's eyes. It's mostly a metaphor for a type of artistic image, in which an especially righteous person whom others should admire appears brighter or has more light on him/her than other people have, so the light serves to show who is the most righteous person in the scene, as if the person's qualities were causing the light to come to him/her.

    The source of the light in the artwork can be a halo, or a spotlight coming down from Heaven, or something that otherwise seems incidental to the scene like the character's placement next to a window in a dim room, or not shown in any specific clear way. It might also be aided by having the character wear brighter colors or sit on a lighter horse. When the expression describes a warrior who would have worn metal armor, it can be taken partially literally as describing the armor as shining because it's kept clean and polished... but armor like that is also used as a metaphor for the warrior's nobility anyway, so the word "shining" still means the same thing either way.

    It's similar to the expression that an American politician popularized a few decades ago, that he wanted his country to be like a "shining city on a hill" which could be admired by people outside the city for miles around. You would need to visualize that city as made of bright shiny materials or being lit by a shaft of sunlight through a break in the gray clouds, but the real point is not the light/brightness/shininess; it's the qualities of the city which the artistic convention represents.
     

    longxianchen

    Senior Member
    chinese
    Thank you a lot, everyone. You really gave me wonderful interpretations. I like them so much.
    Instead, "non-conformist" refers to members of certain Protestant Christian denominations
    as the elite were generally Anglicans, and non-conformists tended to be working class or lower middle class
    Can I just translate it as Protestant please?
    By the 1920s, Joan of Arc was not thought of as a leader of troops against England during the Hundred Years War, but was instead thought of as a heroic and admirable young virgin who acted on behalf of the will of God.
    OK. Now I know here Joan of Arc refers to a lady, who behaves well.
     
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    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    OK. Now I know here Joan of Arc refers to a lady, who behaves well.
    Not by any means. She was a daring and very self-assured young virgin who was literally "up in arms" and she's usually depicted wearing shining armour, with a halo of sanctity over her head. She was a rebel who was able to rouse people to her cause. The women of the village are equally sure of themselves, vociferous, and full of self-righteousness.

     

    longxianchen

    Senior Member
    chinese
    Ah? But Clifford seems to be making a contrast between the people who like sex-related gossips(i.e, behaving bad) and Joan of Arc, who acts on behalf of the will of God.
    And sex-related gossips are opposite to "behaving well", while self-assurance seems to be opposite to lack of confidence:)
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    I think "up in arms" and unabashed" are connected in Clifford's mind with the Joan of Arc reference. She was fighting for what she was convinced was right, and she was pure. The women of Tevershall were obviously not pure like her, and they were not guided by divine inspiration.

    Joan of Arc was not "a lady who behaved well" (which at that time would have meant being a model of decorum), and Clifford would not of thought of her like that. The women might be thought of as a poor caricature of Joan of Arc.
     

    natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Can I just translate it as Protestant please?
    No, the Church of England and the Anglican church is also Protestant. These are other Protestant churches. The contrast is between the established church and the other Protestant churches.
     

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    He's saying that the women are behaving as if neither they nor their parents had ever had sex, and as if they were virgin saints fighting a 'holy war', I suppose against Mellors, in support of Bertha.

    Joan of Arc claimed she had been told by saints in heaven and an archangel, that she could save France from the English. Clifford is saying that the drama the village women are creating over Mellors and his wife is ridiculous. They're behaving as if it was a really important matter.

    I'm trying to think what you can do about 'nonconformist'. 'Protestant' won't do because everybody was Protestant. The nonconformists were generally much stricter and more god-fearing than Anglicans.
     
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    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    My understanding is:

    However, everybody listens: as I(Clifford) do myself. A dozen years ago, common decency (i.e. the natural/usual/expected decency/modesty not to talk about matters of sexual scandal) would have hushed the thing. But common decency no longer exists, and the colliers’ wives are all up in arms and unabashed in voice. One would think every child in Tevershall, for the last fifty years, had been an immaculate conception (making a woman pregnant without any hint of sexual intercourse - the Christian myth is than God magically impregnated Mary with His (i.e. God's) son, Jesus), (had been born as a result of intercourse that contained not even a hint of anything other than pure marital love and peity [and thus the resultant babies were themselves free of all sin])1 and every one of our nonconformist (members of minority Christian sects - mainly Methodist and Baptist) females was a shining Joan of Arc. (Amongst her other attributes, Joan of Arc was said to be a virgin and not interested at all in sex.)

    1See #13 below
     
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    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    One would think every child in Tevershall, for the last fifty years, had been an immaculate conception (making a woman pregnant without any hint of sexual intercourse - the Christian myth is than God magically impregnated Mary with His (i.e. God's) son, Jesus), (had been born as a result of intercourse that contained not even a hint of anything other than pure marital love and peity and that the resultant babies were, themselves, entirely innocent and pious.)

    (My thanks to Myridon.)
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    (and Lawrence is probably also misunderstanding it in this way), and think it refers to the virgin birth of Jesus Christ (i.e., that he was conceived by the Holy Spirit, and without the action of a human father.)
    :thumbsup: There is also the possibility that DHL was not too well-versed in Catholic dogma. Or that DHL wanted to present a Clifford who was as a ignorant of it as most of his fellow-Anglicans.
     
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