Lady Chatterley's Lover

Lady Chatterley's Lover Summary and Analysis of Chapter 5

Chapter 5

One morning in February Clifford and Constance go for a walk, with Constance guiding Clifford's wheelchair. Their life is described as being "inside an enclosure" (41).

They come upon a clearing that is described as lifeless, having been razed for its wood by Clifford's father. Constance feels that it is a breach in the wood, and Clifford feels angry about this bare place in the wood. At the top of the hill, Clifford says he thinks of this place as the heart of England, and he does not want anyone to trespass onto it. He also regrets not having a son when he is there. He feels a duty to preserve this part of England. He mentions that it would almost be a good thing if she had a child by another man, so that they could raise the child as their own. Constance finds his way of speaking about a child as an "it" strangely impersonal, but she does not say anything.

Clifford declares that it doesn't matter if she has an affair once or twice; what matters is that they have each other as habit. What matters to him is what endures. Constance thinks about this silently to herself, and begins to think of her affair with Michaelis as a sort of excursion. Constance asks if he would mind whose child she had, and he responds that he trusts her instinct of decency. She thinks silently to herself that Michaelis is exactly his idea of the wrong sort of man. He tells her he does not expect her to tell him about the affair, because life is really just about a "slow building up of an integral personality" (45). Constance wonders to herself if she could be content with such a gradual life, of "weaving" hers into his.

Constance tells him she agrees, as far as she can see. As they converse, she sees the new gamekeeper, Mellors, with a brown spaniel. He scares Constance a bit. Clifford introduces him to Constance, and she feels that he gives her a fearless, impersonal look, making her feel shy. Constance is reminded of Tommy Dukes when she sees him, and she notes that he has both a suffering and detachment in his eyes, but also warmth. Mellors helps Clifford push his wheelchair up the hill.

Later, Constance asks about Mellors. Clifford tells her that he is from Tevershall and the son of a collier. He had a wife but is no longer married, and he is living alone. As Clifford gives her this information, Constance has a feeling that Clifford's mind is filling with mist, nothingness. She thinks to herself that there is a great law at work in his soul, that when it receives a shock, it gives the appearance of recovering, but really it does not recover. Constance feels that his soul is bruised. Sometimes he could talk with great vitality, but the next day the words would seem like "dead leaves." She thinks of it as the bruise of the war. Constance's fear of nothingness had begun to affect her, and she feels their life had become nothing. Clifford was perhaps successful, but she sees his intellectual life as obscenely conceited.

Constance then compares Michaelis to Clifford. She sees him also as passionless, and after success. She sees the bitch-goddess success as nothingness. Michaelis comes to Wragby again, this time with a play that features Clifford as a main character. Michaelis privately proposes to Constance that they marry, and she insists that she cannot leave Clifford. Michaelis claims that Clifford will hardly notice that Constance is gone, and that he only knows that he himself exists. She wonders if all men are just wrapped up in themselves, and Michaelis claims that men have to be, but that is not the point. The point for Michaelis is instead that a man ought to give a woman a good time. Constance though feels nothing at the description of a "good time" the he gives her - of traveling, living, dressing up, jewels, and night clubs.

That night Constance goes to his room and they have sex. She finds that she cannot climax unless he has already climaxed. He mentions that this annoys him. She feels it is a major blow to her, and that it kills something in her. She goes on living on an "empty treadmill of what Clifford called the integrated life" (55). It seems to her that to accept the nothingness of life is the end of living.


Note the imagery when Clifford and Constance go for a walk. It is not a romantic landscape, and these two don't feel particularly connected to nature. Instead, the landscape is described by being coated in the industrial remnants of sulfur, and the gravel of the driveway has recently been done up by Clifford. It gives off a feeling of being in an enclosure in that it is stifling - this does not seem like a place for freedom of the imagination, or connectivity to nature. Clifford connects to the woods through a sense of duty to his own class and history, and the implication is that he is connected to the past of the English aristocracy here. This is shown insofar as he thinks about having a son, and he also notes how the generations of his family have gone on living on this land.

However, Constance instinctively is critical of his generationalist and nationalistic sentiment, insofar as she notes how impersonally he speaks of it. Such a critique seems to mirror the author's general critique of Clifford as a person: he is only a cerebral type, and has no connection to his own bodily instincts. As a person disconnected from the possibility of sexuality and physical expression, one could say that he is more intellectual. But if intellectuality is characterized by self-consciousness, the author's implicit critique is that the self, which Clifford is conscious he is missing. So Constance recognizes that his thoughts are really filled with "mist." Too much thought, it is argued, divorces the soul from the body, which is its lifeblood.

Michaelis notably is not that stark of a contrast to Clifford. He is also an intellectual and a writer. While he is not born into the aristocracy as Clifford is, it is obvious that Michaelis would like to be a part of the aristocratic world, to be accepted by a cultured class. This is what is implied by Constance's belief that he too is after the bitch-goddess of success. While Constance sees some hope in him because of their physical relationship, Michaelis destroys the potential for revelation contained in the sexual act for Constance. He shows that he is not interested in her pleasure, and he is not truly interested in human intimacy. Instead, the sexual act might be described as the mere scratching of a libidinal "itch" (see Becket, 77) for him. Michaelis' life is also a slave to the "empty treadmill" -- this imagery gives us the vision of a life condemned to stagnant repetition with no real aim for human intimacy. Such a life would only go through the motions of habit, rather than genuinely acting upon human feeling.

There is some foreshadowing in the fact that Mellors reminds Constance of Tommy Dukes. He will later be shown to be the physical embodiment of the ideas that Tommy Dukes has put forward. In the previous chapter, Dukes has put forward the idea that "real knowledge" comes from the sensual lustfulness of the body (metonymically represented by the penis and the belly for Dukes).