Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Insanity; stability.

"The public responds now only to an appeal to its vices." (page 109)

Tonight I've read chapters eight and nine, and I'm somewhat surprised by them. Though they were both interesting chapters, there wasn't a lot that jumped out at me. Chapter nine is almost exclusively Mrs. Bolton telling stories about Tevershall, the village attached to Wragby. The beginning of the chapter, however, features a quote I rather like: "Civilised society is insane. Money and so-called love are its two great manias; money a long way first. The individual asserts himself in his disconnected insanity in these two modes: money and love" (page 104).

The bitch-goddess gets an honorable mention on page 115. Clifford's imagination has been gripped by Mrs. Bolton's stories of the working men in the Tevershall mine, and he has a revelation: "the bitch-goddess of success had two main appetites: one for flattery, adulation, stroking and tickling such as writers and artists gave her; but the other a grimmer appetite for meat and bones. And the meat and bones for the bitch-goddess were provided by the men who made money in industry."

Mrs. Bolton "[makes] a man of him, as Connie never did," by spurring him to an industrial fervor. He begins to venture out into the mines and research new, efficient technologies in an effort to restore the failing Tevershall coal pits and make them profitable again. This is interesting to compare to chapter eight, where Connie ventures out of Wragby and into the cold, fresh wood: "Connie was strangely excited in the wood, and the colour flew in her cheeks, and burned blue in her eyes. [...] Even she caught the faint, tarry scent of the flowers. And then, being so still and alone, she seemed to get into the current of her own proper destiny" (pages 91-92). Connie's revitalized in nature; Clifford's revitalized in industry: "The very stale air of the colliery was better than oxygen to him" (page 117).

It doesn't seem to be a commentary on the differences between men and women in general because of Mrs. Bolton's combination of femininity and the industrial world, but rather the differences between kinds of consciousness. Constance, in the solitude of the wood, is awakening again to self-awareness, an internal and solitary consciousness. It's something she had once: the inner knowledge that allowed her to maintain her freedom and selfhood as a young, experimental girl. It's also part of her attraction to Mellors: he possesses "the stillness, and the timeless sort of patience, in a man impatient and passionate, that touched Connie's womb" (page 95). That solitude, patience, and inner stability doesn't suit Clifford. "Connie kept him apart, and made him sensitive and conscious of himself and his own states. Mrs. Bolton made him aware only of outside things. Inwardly he began to go soft as pulp. But outwardly he began to be effective" (page 116). Clifford relies on control of his surroundings for his stability.

See you tomorrow (today? After some sleep) with chapter ten. Something tells me it's going to be a good one.

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