Lady Chatterley's Lover | Study Guide

D.H. Lawrence

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Lady Chatterley's Lover | Chapter 9 | Summary

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Summary

Connie Chatterley now feels an aversion to Clifford Chatterley and realizes she has always disliked him. She was attracted to him because he had somehow seemed to know things she didn't and this mentally excited her. Now, though, she finds his cerebral activities repugnant, and she physically dislikes him.

Mrs. Bolton and Clifford are growing closer. Clifford no longer resents her taking care of him and even seems to like her physical ministrations, finding sensory gratification when she touches his face. Mrs. Bolton, like Connie once did, finds Clifford's sense of superiority and difference from other men appealing. It is not just his upper-class status, but his superior mental activity. He has lofty ideas and knows lots of esoteric information, which makes him seem special and different from other men. By being involved with him, even just as his personal nurse, she considers herself somewhat elevated, or special. Mrs. Bolton eventually comes to realize, however, there is nothing different about Clifford. He is like all men: "a baby grown to man's proportions."

Connie no longer enjoys evenings spent with Clifford, especially when they talk about his manuscripts. She persuades Mrs. Bolton to learn to type so she can take over her task of typing his manuscripts. Mrs. Bolton is pleased to do so. She gradually spends more time with Clifford in the evening, as Connie frequently pleads a headache in order to retreat to her room. Mrs. Bolton and Clifford play card games and chess in the evening, with Clifford relishing using his superior knowledge of the games to teach Mrs. Bolton—and Mrs. Bolton thrilled to be "coming bit by bit into possession of all that the gentry knew" and to his desire for her company.

Connie observes their interactions and believes Clifford is "coming out in his true colors: a little vulgar, a little common, and uninspired; rather fat." She thinks Mrs. Bolton is relishing her intimate contact with "this titled gentleman." In one way Mrs. Bolton is in love with Clifford, and Clifford is loving the attention.

Mrs. Bolton is also a big gossip and spends hours talking about the villagers and their goings on. She says the young people aren't serious about anything except motor bikes, football, racing, and dancing. They just party at night and do as they please. Her talks lead to the topic of the mines and inspire Clifford to take a renewed interest in them. He decides to get involved in the industrial production of coal to reverse the colliers' decline and prevent the mines' closures. He switches his focus to coal-mining technology for the very real, practical, and worthy cause of discovering a way to make the local pits more productive. He now goes down to the pit every day and grills the managers and engineers. This gives him a sense of purpose and power, and he feels reborn. He realizes he has "been gradually dying, with Connie, in the isolated private life of the artist and the conscious being." His new goal is to create a new concentrated fuel from coal. He feels he has finally achieved his lifelong secret: to get passionately interested in something outside of himself. His partner in this new endeavor is Mrs. Bolton, with whom he shares a comfortable intimacy. With Mrs. Bolton he feels like both a lord and a child. He is at ease with her touching him when she shaves and washes him, and it makes him feel like a child being cared for. With Connie he is stiff and somewhat fearful she will prick his bubble and cause his newfound exultancy to crumble.

Analysis

This chapter provides the background to explain how Mrs. Bolton and Clifford Chatterley develop an intimate relationship that replaces the role formerly held by Connie, who is pleased to turn over the task to Mrs. Bolton: she feels nothing but dislike for her husband. This relationship is dependent on their class distinction, with Clifford the master and Mrs. Bolton a member of the working class who aspires to upward mobility. In a case of situational irony Clifford will later disapprove of his wife's relationship with a member of the working class. As long as he can pass his relationship with Mrs. Bolton off as a master-servant one, he considers it acceptable. This relationship satisfies a personal need beyond that of a working relationship. It helps him to bloom as a person and become rejuvenated, just as Connie's relationship with Oliver Mellors will help her find her individuality and become more fully alive. Yet Clifford faults Connie and Mellors's relationship because of the class distinctions, while he himself engages in a similar, but more duplicitous and exploitive, relationship. Connie and Mellors's relationship is much more equitable and mutually beneficial.

The chapter also provides the background to explain Clifford's newfound interests in coal mining. He wants to resurrect the mines to save England, or at least his little corner of it. He still believes coal is king. It has fueled the Industrial Revolution. To accept coal's decline is paramount to admitting Britain is losing its place in the world. If he can find a way to make the mines more productive, then they—and by extension Tevershall and his position as the aristocrat of Tevershall—will retain their traditional status and importance. He is all for technical progress and modernity, such as by finding new forms of coal-based energy—as long as it allows the traditional power and political structures to remain in place.

Connie's sense of responsibility toward Clifford prevents her from abandoning him by divorcing him. But she is laying the framework for him to become more self-sufficient or at least to become sufficient with the aid of Mrs. Bolton. Mrs. Bolton initially takes over Connie's tasks in attending to Clifford's personal needs. Connie gradually abdicates other roles, such as that of a companion, and lets Mrs. Bolton assume them. Mrs. Bolton seamlessly takes on these roles and replaces Connie until Clifford feels more comfortable with his servant than with his wife—and not only more comfortable, but more inspired and interested in a more satisfying pursuit. Although Connie has not expressed this thought, she is now much freer to leave Clifford. She won't be abandoning him as he is being taken care of.

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