Lady Chatterley's Lover | Study Guide

D.H. Lawrence

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Lady Chatterley's Lover | Chapter 14 | Summary

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Summary

Oliver Mellors and Connie Chatterley meet at the gate and then walk to his cottage. There they talk about themselves, Clifford Chatterley, and Mellors's marriage. Mellors decides he will get a divorce to make sure he is not ever required to take his wife back in. Mellors gives an accounting of all the women he has been romantically/sexually involved with. His first love, when he was 16, was a beautiful girl, the schoolmaster's daughter. She was a romantic and hated commonness. He took up poetry and reading, and they became "the most literary-cultured couple in ten counties." She adored him but did not want to have sex. He finally persuaded her to, and afterward she broke up with him. He thinks they got along perfectly well—they both loved to kiss and talk—with the exception of her total lack of interest in sex.

His next relationship was with an older teacher who "loved everything about love, except the sex." When he forced her to have sex, she became numb with hate for him. He left her because he "wanted a woman who wanted me, and wanted it."

His last relationship was with Bertha Coutts. She was his next-door neighbor, but he did not date her until he was 21, having just broken off with the older woman who hated sex. Bertha had been working in Birmingham, and she returned to Tevershall with "airs and graces and smart clothes and ... a sort of sensual bloom." They married and were happy at first. She liked sex and wanted him, which greatly pleased him. But then she changed and for some reason resented that he liked sex so much. She'd fly off the handle about things, and he'd fly right back. Then she started playing games with sex, never wanting him when he wanted her and acting all lovey-dovey when he did not want her. Worst of all she refused to have an orgasm with him. She'd hold back and wait until he was finished, then use her own sometimes violent actions to achieve an orgasm. He eventually got sick of it, and they hated each other so much they slept apart. She had a child but already hated him by the time she was born. When the war started he joined up. He didn't return until he knew she was living with some other man who worked at Stacks Gate.

Mellors signed off on women after the war as he believes most women want a man but don't want sex. Now he is glad he has met Connie, believing she is "what I wanted with a woman." He is concerned, though, about "all the complications and the ugliness and recrimination that's bound to come, sooner or later" just from being involved with her. What he wants with a woman is someone "who'd really 'come' naturally with a man." Despite these fears he wants to hold on to the relationship, believing the right relationship between a man and a woman is the core of his life.

As they talk Mellors predicts "black days coming for us all and for everybody." Connie hates his sense of despair and pushes him to talk about what matters to him. After telling her he doesn't know what he believes in, he declares he does believe in something. He believes in being "warm-hearted ... especially in being warm-hearted in love, in fucking with a warm heart." He prophesies if everyone had sex with their hearts the world would improve and "everything would come all right."

Their discussion is somewhat contentious and argumentative. Mellors offers Connie his bed and says he'll sleep downstairs. He's feeling cold-hearted and does not want to have sex with Connie as he'd "rather die than do any more cold-hearted fucking." When Connie questions him, he says he'll just go out. Connie asks, "What's come between us?" Something in her expression stops him, and he goes to her and takes her in his arms. Her hurt goes right through his body, and he touches her under her clothing. All the fight goes out of him and he tells her he loves her and loves touching her. He implores they never fight and just be together.

They make an oath to be together and seal it by "Heart an' belly an' cock." The next morning Mellors wakes up first, feeling joyous and pleased to see Connie curled besides him. He gets up to open the curtains, and when he turns back to face the bed he is fully erect. He wants to hide his penis, but Connie says she wants to see. They have a lengthy discussion about his penis, which Connie considers "lovely ... like another being." Its erect size and cocksureness makes her understand for herself why men are so overbearing. Mellors amuses her by talking in a different voice, as if he were his penis, which he has named John Thomas. This leads to their having sex. Afterward Connie lifts the sheet to stare at Mellors's penis again. It is now small, but she is still enamored of it, saying, "Even when he's soft and little I feel my heart simply tied to him." They touch each other's bodies and have sex again.

Before Connie leaves she tells Mellors she wants him to keep her, to never let her go. She wants him to hold her in his heart, and soon she wants to come live with him forever. He tells her not to ask him now and gets out of bed and goes outside. A short while later she gets up and dresses, then meets him downstairs. She tells him she wants to "have all the rest of the world disappear" so she could live with him in his cottage. He bluntly brings her back to reality and tells her "it won't disappear." Connie hurries home so she can sneak in the house without anyone knowing she had not spent the night at home.

Analysis

From this chapter on the story focuses less on character development and more on escalating the series of events that leads to its resolution. In this chapter Connie and Mellors cement their commitment to each other. Connie spends the night with Mellors for the first time. She is ready to leave her husband and Wragby, but she does not know how to go about it. Mellors, too, is ready to make a life with Connie, but he knows it won't be easy. He fears the trouble that may come but decides to take the first step and free himself legally from his wife, Bertha Coutts, by getting a divorce.

Both are open and talk about sex and the penis without shame or embarrassment. Mellors shows his naked body to Connie and discusses his penis in detail. Connie, in turn, talks openly about it and expresses strong feelings for it.

The chapter also explores the themes of love and sex by discussing the conflicts Mellors experienced in his past romantic relationships. Lawrence believes an essential part of a romantic relationship is the struggle between individualization and will. When the conflict is resolved, love and connection exist. In the past Mellors was unable to resolve the conflicts, which resulted in pain and a desire to avoid women to prevent additional pain. He and Connie also experience this conflict, with Mellors unhappy that he is used merely as a sperm donor for a child and Connie holding fast to her will as if it is all she has. Connie finally lets go of her will and stops struggling. This allows her and Mellors to connect in a deeper way, and their physical desire expands into love and a commitment to each other. From this point on they will struggle to keep their connection and love and find a way to be together.

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