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Lady Chatterley's Lover | Chapter 12 | Summary

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Summary

Connie Chatterley visits Oliver Mellors at his cottage. They discuss his job as a gamekeeper and his employment options if he were to quit. The conversation turns to her upcoming trip to Venice. Connie asks Mellors not to forget her while she is gone. She reveals she might have a child in the future, which is okay with her husband as long as the baby "seemed to be his." She plans to pretend she got pregnant during her Venice trip.

Mellors is displeased with this news and asks if she wanted him in order to get a child. Connie says it wasn't the real reason, but she doesn't know why she wants him. Mellors wishes her well with her plan and notes it's not the first time he's been used. Connie denies using him and says she likes his body. This leads to Mellors inviting her upstairs to have sex, which she declines. As Connie walks home, she is conflicted. It's somewhat true she had used him. She both resents him and wants to make up with him. After she gets home she cannot settle down, so she goes back to the hut. Mellors is there, and they have sex. She is tense during intercourse and resists Mellors. She looks at his humping body and finds it ridiculous, agreeing with modern writers who have described sex often as a performance.

Yet when Mellors finishes and leaves her body, she feels sadness and begins to cry. As her weeping increases, she blurts out she cannot love him. Mellors assures her she does not need to. She weeps even harder and tells him she wants to love him and cannot. She clings to him and begs him not to leave her. He takes her in his arms, and she suddenly finds peace. Desire sparks in Mellors, and he tenderly caresses her body. Connie responds and feels him "like a flame." No longer resistant, she opens up to him completely. They unite in physical touch, and the sensations are unlike anything Connie has ever experienced. It awakens all of her womanhood, and she feels "she was born: a woman."

In becoming a woman Connie discovers "the strange potency of manhood." It both thrills her and frightens her. She is fascinated with Mellors's body and explores it. They have sex again, and "her whole self quivered unconscious and alive." She utters words of love, but Mellors is silent, so she asks if he loves her. He tells her she knows he does. When she pleads for him to say it, he asks if she cannot feel it. His touch convinces her, but she keeps pressing for reassurances he'll love her forever. Mellor answers with touch but refuses to make any verbal promises. Nonetheless, she returns home feeling as if she is walking on clouds of passion and love.

Analysis

This chapter highlights several struggles, including the internal struggle of wanting and resisting physical desire, the struggle between the body and the mind, and the struggle between men and women to understand each other.

After Connie Chatterley and Oliver Mellors discuss whether she was using him to get pregnant, they have sex. Connie, however, is highly resistant to Mellors and cannot relax. She feels as if she is watching herself rather than engaging in the actual activity, with the sense "her spirit seemed to look on from the top of her head." This makes both the sexual activity and her feelings for Mellors unpleasant, and she wants to just heave his body off her. She is emotionally struggling with whether she is indeed using him, as he said. Yet she has felt strong physical desire for him, and she attempts to diminish that physical desire in order to extinguish her cerebral questioning and uncertainties.

This struggle is solved when Mellors embraces her. She lets go of her emotions and will and allows her body to respond to his. Her emotions and will had struggled with her desire and kept her from responding sexually. She intellectualized reasons why she should not be involved with him and even used the ideas of poets and the French writer Guy de Maupassant to mentally ridicule the male body during sex. But when Mellors physically separates from her, her intellect eludes her and her body tells her she wants that physical connection with Mellors.

The contrast between Mellors and Clifford Chatterley is evident in Mellors's silence. He feels no need to express his ideas in words, unlike Clifford who highly values talk and words. And Clifford not only uses his own words to describe emotions and ideas, he quotes the words of philosophers, poets, and writers—showing how apart he is from his real-life experiences. Mellors believes the phallic connection is a much truer form of communication and words pale in comparison. Connie is torn between cerebral consciousness and this new sensual consciousness. She wants the reassurance of words but trusts what their physical connection expresses.

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