Well. Chapter ten was a very long chapter by comparison to its predecessors, and there were a lot of things I took note of; but I will try to be brief and discerning, for those readers who don't get as excited about this stuff as I do. I promise, this is the longest post you'll see in awhile.
Now with headers!
In the beginning of the chapter, Connie is still very much depressed. She has more freedom now that Mrs. Bolton's caring for Clifford, but she is aimless, emotionally lost. Her new relationship with Mellors (whose first name is Oliver, we discover: once upon a time in New York City, anyone?) is not going well. Meanwhile, with Clifford's new foray into industry, whatever traces of real love or tenderness he had in him disappear. He still worships Connie, but he worships her as a symbol and hates her as much as he loves her. His idolatry frightens Connie, too: "his declaration of private worship put her into a panic. [...] It was the cruelty of utter impotence" (page 121). There's nothing between them now; they're just playing parts. Clifford's worship of her marks just how removed they are from each other.
SEX AND IDENTITYThe chapter is predominantly about Connie's identity crisis. It's about more than sex, but sexuality is wrapped up in it; there's also the very subtle undercurrent of maternity throughout the chapter. Oliver (a.k.a Mellors; he's Oliver from now on as far as I'm concerned) is currently raising pheasants in the sex-hut (oops, spoiler) and Connie has been visiting. She admires the hens even though they flaunt what she's lacking: "she found two brown hens sitting alert and fierce in the coops, sitting on pheasant's eggs, and fluffed out so proud and deep in all the heat of the pondering female blood. This almost broke Connie's heart. She, herself, was so forlorn and unused, not a female at all, just a mere thing of terrors" (page 122). My italics. You know, for emphasis.
She and Oliver bond over the hens and the pheasant chicks when they hatch, and the misery underscoring her awe of the creatures sets a fire in Oliver's loins. He leads her into the hut (the sex-hut, remember?) and they have sex for the first time--but Connie's not exactly into it. While it's "the moment of pure peace for him, the entry into the body of a woman," for Connie "the activity, the orgasm was his, all his; she could strive for herself no more" (page 126). She doesn't resist, but she contributes nothing. She's resigned herself to this: "she could bear the burden of herself no more. She was to be had for the taking" (page 127). Perhaps what she can no longer bear is her struggle to define herself within an identity.
On page 132 Connie considers her sexual and personal identities as distinct things. "It wasn't really personal. She was only really a female to [Oliver]. But perhaps that was better. And after all, he was kind to the female in her, which no man had ever been. Men were very kind to the person she was, but rather cruel to the female, despising her or ignoring her altogether. And [Oliver] took no notice of Constance or of Lady Chatterly; he just softly stroked her loins or her breasts." Oliver ministers to the part of Constance that has been neglected by her husband and even, to a point, by Michaelis; and so she goes back to the wood and has sex with him again.
Connie was in "a kind of sleep" when they first had sex, but this time she stays awake and considers it a little bit more, and one of the things that confuses and almost frightens her: "He put his face down and rubbed his cheek against her belly and against her thighs again and again. And again she wondered a little over the sort of rapture it was to him. She did not understand the beauty he found in her, through touch upon her living secret body, almost the ecstasy of beauty. [...] Far down in her she felt a new stirring, a new nakedness emerging. And she was half afraid" (page 136).
STRANGE CH-CH-CHANGES (aka sex becomes good)
The scene on 144-146 is really something magical; I can't relay the full effect without quoting the whole passage. Oliver and Connie have had sex a few times now, and Connie has yet to come, before or after. Obviously Oliver finishes first, and she hasn't had the will to finish herself. This time when they have sex "there awoke in her new strange thrills rippling inside her" (145). She clings to him, unconscious of her own moans; but it's not enough to give her an orgasm. When she feels him stop, she despairs: "she could only wait, wait and moan in spirit as she felt him withdrawing, withdrawing and contracting, coming to the terrible moment when he would slip out of her and be gone. Whilst all her womb was open and soft, and softly clamouring, like a sea-anenome under the tide, clamouring for him to come in again and make a fulfillment for her" (145).
But wait! Here comes the magic: "She clung to him unconscious in passion, and he never quite slipped from her, and she felt the soft bud of him within her stirring, and strange rhythms flushing up into her with a strange rhythmic growing motion, swelling and swellilng till it filled her all cleaving consciousness, and then began again the unspeakable motion that was not really motion, but pure deepening whirlpools of sensation swirling deeper and deeper through all her tissue and consciousness, till she was one perfect concentric fluid of feeling, and she lay there crying in unconscious inarticulate cries. The voice out of the uttermost night, the life! The man heard it beneath him with a kind of awe, as his life sprang out into her. And as it subsided, he subsided too and lay utterly still, unknowing, while her grip on him slowly relaxed, and she lay inert. And they lay and knew nothing, not even of each other, both lost" (145-146).
Damn, that is beautiful. I've italicized my favorite lines. In case you missed it, they orgasmed together; and that was not the whole passage. There's more, and it's reason enough to buy your own copy to read hint hint.
When this scene began, Connie didn't want to have sex with Oliver but also didn't have the heart to fight back. "Giving way, giving up," she called it. Afterwards, "he bent over her and kissed her, and she felt, so he must kiss her for ever" (page 146). They're bonded by orgasm and in a way, they've seen deeper versions of each other.
An interesting quote to consider in the context of sex and identity: "She watched his face, and the passion for him moved in her bowels. She resisted it as far as she could, for it was the loss of herself to herself" (page 146). My italics. Think about that for the comment section.
Pages 147-148 contain an interesting passage on passion versus adoration as self-motivators. As Connie reflects on her feelings for Oliver, she realizes: "It was not the passion that was new to her, it was the yearning adoration." She fears that adoration will cause her to lose herself and become a slave. She compares passion, female passion of will, the passion of her youth, to the Bacchae (followers of Bacchus or Dionysis. Google it. The stories will haunt your dreams--especially the guys), and she feels its power: "but while she felt this, her heart was heavy. She did not want it, it was known and barren, birthless; the adoration was her treasure. It was so fathomless, so soft, so deep and so unknown" (page 148).
Oooh. Things are getting sticky. I promise to not to be late with my next update (which promise I will ensure that I keep by not giving you an ETP).