Lady Chatterley's Lover | Study Guide

D.H. Lawrence

Download a PDF to print or study offline.

Study Guide
Cite This Study Guide

How to Cite This Study Guide

quotation mark graphic
MLA

Bibliography

Course Hero. "Lady Chatterley's Lover Study Guide." Course Hero. 5 Oct. 2017. Web. 16 Aug. 2018. <https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Lady-Chatterleys-Lover/>.

In text

(Course Hero)

APA

Bibliography

Course Hero. (2017, October 5). Lady Chatterley's Lover Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved August 16, 2018, from https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Lady-Chatterleys-Lover/

In text

(Course Hero, 2017)

Chicago

Bibliography

Course Hero. "Lady Chatterley's Lover Study Guide." October 5, 2017. Accessed August 16, 2018. https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Lady-Chatterleys-Lover/.

Footnote

Course Hero, "Lady Chatterley's Lover Study Guide," October 5, 2017, accessed August 16, 2018, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/Lady-Chatterleys-Lover/.

Lady Chatterley's Lover | Chapter 10 | Summary

Share
Share

Summary

Clifford Chatterley gets more involved in the industrial activity. Connie Chatterley is impressed with how competent and knowledgeable he has become about mining issues. At home, though, he clings to her and wants her to swear she'll never leave him. His dependence and clinginess horrify Connie. One day she asks if he really wants her to have a child. Clifford says he would like to have a child as long as it doesn't change her love for him. If it would change it in any way, he is "dead against it." He wants a child because it would make him feel he "was building up a future for it." He would consider the child hers as he is only a cipher and she is the "great I-am." As he talks her revulsion only deepens.

Connie later hears Clifford talking with Mrs. Bolton in a "passionless passion" voice as if she were a half-mistress or half-foster mother. She feels totally smothered by the falsity of their relationship, by Clifford's alleged idolatry, and by the lack of physical touch. She spends as much time as possible in the woods. She goes to the hut as often as possible, but days go by without her seeing Mellors there. She is drawn to watching the brooding hens, attracted to their female nature. She contrasts her own barrenness and feels she is "not a female at all." She cannot stand to hear Clifford, Mrs. Bolton, or any of the business visitors. Even letters from Michaelis make her go cold. Only the hens warm her heart.

Although Connie feels near dead inside, the physical world around her is coming to life with the spring. Spring flowers are blooming and leaf buds are opening. One day a little chicken is running about. She considers it "the most alive little spark of a creature in seven kingdoms" and watches it with a kind of ecstasy. It is new life, and it seems so fearless, so free and pure. It makes her think of her "own female forlornness," and she feels bereft.

Connie's only desire in life now is to go to the clearing. One evening she slips out and flees to the clearing. Mellors is there, closing up the chicken coops. She watches the young chicks and expresses a desire to hold one. Mellors gently places a chick in her hands. As she stares at it entranced, a tear falls on her wrist. Mellors notices it and feels a physical desire for her. He takes the chick from her, places it in the coop, and puts his hand on her knee. She is sobbing, as if "her heart was broken and nothing mattered any more." Mellors gently strokes her back and legs and asks her to come inside the hut.

Inside the hut she lies on a blanket, and they have sex. Mellors feels pure peace once he enters her, but Connie just feels like she is "in a kind of sleep." She does not have an orgasm. She feels somewhat distant from him and thinks as long as she keeps "herself for herself it was nothing." She thinks about how she does not know the man she just had sex with. Yet she is not disturbed by him. She finds his stillness peaceful. Eventually he gets up, dresses, and leaves—and it feels "like an abandonment."

Mellors is waiting for her when she goes outside. He walks her to Wragby's gate and asks if she is sorry. She cries out she is not and asks if he is. He says he is not, but he is concerned about the "rest of things," such as "Clifford, other folks, all the complications." He is sorry, however, to have begun a physical relationship with a woman again. He says it is beginning life again, and he had thought he was done with all that. Now he is going to be "broken open again." They kiss softly at the gate, after Connie seeks reassurance he does not hate her. They both say the sex had been good for them, even though Connie "had not been conscious of much." One of the last comments before leaving is regret there are "so many other people in the world." They agree to meet again.

Mellors watches Connie cross the park with mixed feelings. She has shattered his privacy—his solitude—when all he wanted was to be alone. He climbs up on the hill rise where Sir Geoffrey Chatterley had felled the timber and looks out on the countryside. He sees Stacks Gate, the pit lights, the village's lights. He knows his seclusion in the woods is an illusion. It is impossible to keep isolated from the rest of the world. Its lights and noises are intruding on the very woods. He cannot be a hermit, try as he might. By getting involved with a woman he is inviting "a new cycle of pain and doom." He blames the expected pain and doom not on women, nor on love or sex. Instead he believes industrialization is responsible as it is evil and destroys anything that does not conform. It will destroy the woods and the spring plants and all vulnerable things. He expects Connie, being vulnerable, to be done in by the "tough lot she was in contact with," but he vows to "protect her with his heart for a little while," before he, too, is done in by "the insentient iron world and the Mammon of mechanized greed."

Once home in his cottage Mellors grows regretful he had sex with Connie. His body, however, betrays his thoughts. Desire returns and "his penis began to stir like a live bird." He thinks being involved with a woman—with Connie—could be free of dread and gloom if no other people existed. He goes outside to try to shake his mood and walks around the woods. His desire remains strong, and he feels "the stirring restlessness of his penis, the stirring fire in his loins."

The door is locked when Connie arrives at Wragby, and Mrs. Bolton has to open it. Once she is alone in her room, she mulls over what had happened with Mellors. He seemed kind, but the type of kindness he'd show to any woman. She concludes Mellors doesn't like her much and she was just a female to him. But in a new way, that suits her. Mellors is the first man to relate with her on a female basis instead of a personal basis.

The next day Connie goes to the clearing, but Mellors does not appear. She slips out of the house that evening and returns to the clearing. Mellors eventually arrives and tends to the chickens and coops before he comes to her. He warns her people are likely to become suspicious with her coming to the hut every night. Connie says no one knows, but Mellors tells her they soon will. Connie says she can't help it: she wants to come. Mellors tells her she can stop people from knowing by not coming. He asks how she will feel when folks find out, when they find out she lowered herself by having sex with "one of your husband's servants."

Connie considers her options if people were to discover she was sleeping with Mellors. She tells him she can go away: she has her own money from her mother. She does not care about the stigma of having sex with a member of a lower social class as she does not care about her higher social class at all. As far as she is concerned, she has nothing to lose. She asks about his risks and fears. Mellors admits he is afraid, afraid of the world at large, but he kisses her and tells her he is willing to risk everything if that's what she wants. He doesn't want to do anything if she's going to regret it. They have sex again. Once again Mellors has an orgasm, but Connie does not. Connie knows she is partly responsible for her lack of pleasure as she has willed herself to be separate. Mellors walks Connie to the gate. When they part he tells her he "could die for a touch of a woman like thee," and he puts his hand under her dress. Connie runs but turns back and says, "Kiss me," before promising to come the next day if she can. She slips into the house and her room undetected.

For four days Connie does not go to the hut. One of those days she goes with Clifford to visit his godfather, Leslie Winter, in Uthwaite. The next three days she tries to think of things she can do as she is determined not to go to the woods and "open her thighs once more to the man." She walks in the different part of the woods and visits Mrs. Flint, a Chatterley tenant at a neighboring farm. She is enthralled with her nearly year-old baby. On her way home she runs into Mellors, who is coming to fetch his milk at the farm. He asks if she is going to the hut, and she says no, she needs to go home. He wraps her in an embrace, and she feels his erection. They go to a little space between some trees and have sex. This time her body reacts to his, and she feels "new strange thrills rippling inside her." Her womb opens and clamors "for him to come in again and make a fulfillment for her." He does, and she finally reaches a climax with him. She cries out "as his life sprang out into her." They are finally emotionally and physically united.

Mellors summarizes the experience by saying, "We came off together that time." He points out how "most folks live their lives through and they never know it." Connie didn't know this, and she asks if he ever came off at the same time with other women. Mellors avoids talking about his past sexual experiences by saying he does not know.

As Connie walks home she muses on what had just happened. She enjoyed having another self "alive in her," and she thinks she is pregnant. She feels "her womb, that had always been shut, had opened and filled with new life." She considers what it would be like to have Mellors's child. It has a totally different meaning than having a child by herself as she had contemplated with Clifford. The idea of having Mellors's child makes her feel "as if she was sinking deep, deep to the center of all womanhood and the sleep of creation." Fearful of losing her own will to Mellors, she decides to view him as a temple servant to her own sexual desire.

When she gets home Connie tells Clifford about visiting Mrs. Flint and her baby. Clifford senses something new in her, and he thinks it has to do with her yearning for a baby. Mrs. Bolton is a bit more suspicious and searches Connie's eyes as she describes where she had been. Mrs. Bolton is convinced Connie has a lover but cannot imagine who it is.

That night she spends the evening with Clifford, sewing a dress for the baby as he reads to her. Clifford thinks she looks "utterly soft and still" and is fascinated by her. Though they are together in the same room, both are in their own worlds. Connie is reliving her time with Mellors. Clifford attributes her distance to her obsession with having a child. Connie thinks Clifford is a cold, soulless creature, and he frightens her a bit. Connie leaves without kissing him goodnight, and he thinks her very cold and callous. He is angered to his core, believing that "even if the kiss was but a formality, it was on such formalities that life depends." He has a terrible dread she will leave him and is equally afraid of death. Many a night he cannot sleep because his fears overwhelm him. On these nights Mrs. Bolton comes to him and keeps him company, playing games and sitting on the bed next to him.

That night Connie falls fast asleep, and Clifford rings for Mrs. Bolton, who plays cards with him and wonders who Connie's lover is; Mellors sits by the fire and thinks about his boyhood, years living abroad, and his marriage. He wonders about his relationship with Connie. They face so much trouble, both being married. What future do they have? What would they do? What would he do? He knows he must have something to do. He cannot just live off her money and his own small pension.

Restless and unable to sleep, Mellors goes for a walk as the dawn nears. He wants to be with Connie, to touch her. He feels he needs to hold her against him in order to be complete and to sleep. Since he can't have that, at least he can be near her. He climbs to the hill rise and looks at her house for a long time. At the first light of dawn Mrs. Bolton draws back a curtain. Mellors does not see her, but she sees him. And she realizes who Connie's lover is. Mellors finally leaves for home as Mrs. Bolton glances triumphantly at the sleeping Clifford.

Analysis

This key chapter is a summary of Lawrence's ideas embodied in the characters and their needs and actions. He believes nature is restorative and can help people heal. He views industrialization as a threat to nature. Wragby represents industrialization and destructive forces, while the woods represent nature and growth. Another idea is that love is characterized by struggle between men and women to understand and accept their differences. Both Connie and Mellors desire and fear each other. Both are afraid of losing their individuality if they are involved with each other. Mellors fears allowing a woman to be close to him will endanger him, which is why he has used solitude as a protective measure. Connie fears being open to Mellors and risking losing her own free will.

Clifford Chatterley does not demonstrate either love or desire. He lacks emotional intelligence and maturity. Although he interacts with the mine managers in a professional manner, his interactions with his wife and Mrs. Bolton reveal an inability to have healthy personal relationships. He treats Connie like a child or romanticized idol, rather than a partner of equal standing. He has an infantile dependence on Mrs. Bolton, wanting her to care for him as if he were a child. While his interest in mining activities takes him out of himself and brings him a sense of fulfillment, he does not extend "getting out of himself" to his wife. He makes little effort to find out what she wants and how he can help her achieve her desires. He is self-absorbed and considers it his wife's duty to fill his needs and keep him company.

Now that Mrs. Bolton is filling more of his needs and providing greater companionship, he and Connie are drifting apart, although Clifford fears a total separation. Lawrence continues to portray Clifford in an unflattering light. His desire for a child as a link in a chain repels Connie, who wants no parts of a chain and who finds his lack of thought for the child abhorrent. By showing these negative aspects of Clifford, Lawrence is paving the way for the reader to accept Connie's serious relationship with another man.

Lawrence considers motherhood an essential part of a woman's nature. Connie feels a huge void in her life because she has not had a child. She feels her body is not doing what it was designed to do, and she loves watching the brooding hens, which have reproduced and are fulfilling their maternal roles. Because Clifford is unable to impregnate her, he is responsible for this huge void in her that goes against the very nature of womanhood. Again Lawrence is making Clifford a more and more undesirable figure.

The brooding hens represent reproduction, and Lawrence uses positive imagery to describe how wonderful—and essential—childbearing is to a woman. The hens sit "alert and fierce ... fluffed out so proud and deep in all the heat of the pondering female blood." They nestle on the eggs, with their "female urge, the female nature" and cluck in "anger and alarm" if anyone comes too close. The newborn chicks represent new life, not only of the chicks but also of a human baby. When Oliver Mellors hands Connie a newborn chick, it foreshadows their own child. Connie wants so badly to touch the young chick, but she does not know how to handle it. Mellors does. He tenderly picks up the chick and delivers it to Connie's hand, just as he will deliver his "seed" into her womb. Connie gazes in wonder. Connie's desire to have a child ignites a sexual desire in Mellors. He sees her tear—because of her longing to be a mother—and "compassion [flames] in his bowels for her."

While Connie is willing to have sex, she initially is not ready to commit to him mentally and emotionally. She keeps an emotional distance from him and does not allow herself to acknowledge how much she wants him. She soon realizes she wants him and is willing to leave Clifford for him should their relationship be found out, but she is uncertain of Mellors's feelings. He is more open and forthright with his emotions and admits to being afraid of how involvement with each other can end up hurting them both. After a separation of a few days Connie and Mellors have sex, and Connie finally makes an emotional and physical connection with him. Her belief that Mellors has impregnated her signals a hopefulness for their relationship—and for their future.

The nature imagery represents Connie's sexual awakening. The spring is coming alive parallel to Connie's sensuality and desire to bear a child. Flowers are blooming and leaf buds are opening, just as Connie opens her body to a man. When she walks through the woods the day after she first has sex with Mellors, "the trees [are] making a silent effort to open their buds." The same could be said of Connie. She feels this primal awakening within her body, as if "the huge heave of the sap in the massive trees, upwards, up, up to the bud tips" was coursing through her own blood. When she walks through the woods that evening, the woods, like her, are "still and secret ... full of the mystery of eggs and half-open buds, half unsheathed flowers." The trees are "naked and dark as if they had unclothed themselves," which represents Connie's own nakedness under her dress. Her desire to bear a child is represented in the new growth of spring, or "the green things on earth [that] seemed to hum with greenness."

After they have sex a second time, they walk through a woods with even more vibrant sexual imagery. Now the grass is wet and the "black shiny tree-roots [are] like snakes, wan flowers." The tree roots represent their entanglement or connection. The snakes are in a way a biblical allusion to the snake in the Garden of Eden, which represent both fertility and evil. In this case they are foreshadowing the life-affirming power of Connie's fertility while also showing the threat to both hers and Mellors's lives as they know them. The narrator highlights this threat by stating "the earth under their feet was a mystery." Both of their worlds will shift in ways they do not know.

Seemingly innocent or inconsequential events set the stage for future conflict. First when Connie comes home both Clifford and Mrs. Bolton sense something different about her. Clifford, being rather obtuse about his wife, thinks her obsession for a child is responsible. Mrs. Bolton, who is far more worldly and intuitive than Clifford, accurately suspects Connie has a lover. Connie is so wrapped up in her thoughts of Mellors she is oblivious to Mrs. Bolton's emerging knowledge. The second event is Mrs. Bolton sighting Mellors watching the house. This confirms her suspicion, and she holds on to the knowledge as if it is something powerful. It will turn out to be something she can use to worm her way further into Clifford's world and to get back at the upper class that she deeply resents but wants to belong to.

Another dominant idea expressed in this chapter is Lawrence's belief that touch is more important than wisdom. As Connie separates from Clifford's world of the mind, she finds the tangible world more meaningful than words and ideas. This is illustrated in the scene in which Clifford reads a work by Jean-Baptiste Racine, a 17th-century French playwright and poet. He is especially known for writing classic tragedies about love and politics. In a case of situational irony Connie is caught up in her own thoughts of love and passion and doesn't pay attention to any of the words Clifford reads, while Clifford's only association with love and passion is words. He tries to make a life through words: those he writes, those he reads, and those he engages in when he talks and converses with others. But he has no real life of love or passion, just lofty ideas from dead writers and formalities he clings to in place of real passion.

Cite This Study Guide

information icon Have study documents to share about Lady Chatterley's Lover? Upload them to earn free Course Hero access!