Lady Chatterley's Lover | Study Guide

D.H. Lawrence

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Lady Chatterley's Lover | Chapter 18 | Summary

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Summary

Connie Chatterley makes plans to meet Oliver Mellors in London. She travels to London by train with her father, Sir Malcolm Reid, and confides she is pregnant by the Wragby gamekeeper. Sir Malcolm is glad his daughter is having sex but displeased it is with a working-class man. He suggests they continue the affair until his daughter no longer wants it, but that she stay at Wragby rather than live with the gamekeeper. Connie lets him know that's not what she wants. Her father meets with Mellors for dinner and discovers he likes Mellors. He thinks he is a "bantam" with a "good cod on [him]," so unlike the "lily-livered" Clifford Chatterley.

Connie and Mellors work to deal with the difficulties in their relationship. Mellors is deeply committed to her and wants to be with her, but he is skeptical of bringing a child into the world. Connie persuades him all he has to do is give the child tenderness, and he will counteract any of the negative effects of the world. They also discuss the challenges posed by Bertha Coutts and decide it best they aren't seen together until his divorce is final. This means they'll be apart when the baby is born.

Connie figures out a plan for getting her own divorce without endangering Mellors's divorce. She plans to say Duncan Forbes is the father, if he'll agree. She's not so worried about the scandal of having her relationship with Mellors made public, but she knows having an affair with Mellors will make Clifford less willing to grant her a divorce.

They also meet with Hilda Reid, who strongly disapproves of their relationship and scolds them for getting pregnant before getting married. Connie, Mellors, Hilda, and Forbes meet to discuss the plan. Mellors deeply dislikes the idea, saying it "murders all the bowels of compassion in a man." His attitude repels Forbes, who deplores it for its "sickly sentiment." Forbes agrees to pass himself off as the father of Connie's unborn child as long as she poses as a model for him—something he has long tried to persuade her to do without success. They make the deal, with Connie unconcerned about modeling for him, especially "if it paves the way to a life together for [Mellors and her]." She knows Forbes won't touch her, and she doesn't care what ideas he gets in his head about her body or how he paints her.

Analysis

This chapter continues Connie's and Mellors's efforts to clean up the messes surrounding their affair and scandal so they can be together. Connie has finally devised a plan to end her own marriage, showing a huge departure from the passivity that characterizes much of her relationship with her husband, and even with Mellors. Now she is not waiting to see if Mellors wants her. She tells him outright she wants to be with him, and she responds to his doubts and uncertainties with clarity and confidence. She has very little concern about social conventions and morality, openly telling her sister, Hilda Reid, and her father, Sir Malcolm Reid, about her relationship with her husband's gamekeeper. She feels no shame he is of the working class: she considers him more of a man than any other man—in any social class—she knows. What is now important to her is the tenderness and connection she has with Mellors, not her reputation, social standing, financial security, or other people's opinions. She is willing to do something she has long resisted—model for an acquaintance—because it is merely a means to an end, and she is not concerned with what the acquaintance gets out of the experience or how he will portray her body in paintings. She is immune to all that. The only thing that matters is finding a way to be with Mellors.

Mellors is a little more hesitant. He regrets his role in putting Connie in the midst of a scandal. He wants to protect her from pain, which demonstrates a traditional male role in interpersonal relationships. He also fears his inability to protect his future child from the "tragic age" of the world. It is Connie who puts his fears in perspective and shows how he—and they—can overcome such challenges: by their shared tenderness. She has become the stronger, more confident of the two and uses her will to encourage Mellors to believe in the same sense of certainty and optimism in their relationship.

What Connie and Mellors want is so different from what other characters say they do. They do not want the success that Clifford and his fellow intellectuals pursue, the social reputation and acceptance that Hilda needs, the security and sexual escapades that Sir Malcolm recommends. They do not crave the momentary pleasures of partying, drinking, jazz clubs, or other amusements. Instead they want to keep the flame of their relationship kindled and to be together. To be together they have to separate for several months. Their willingness to do this shows the strength of their love and relationship.

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