Study Guide

Clarissa - Letters 11-21 dated March 1st through March 4th Summary & Analysis

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Letters 11-21 dated March 1st through March 4th Summary

Clarissa would be alarmed at Miss Howes' suggestion of loving Mr. Lovelace if she did not assume it was a joke. She examines her heart and finds no longings or love hidden within. Although she admits that Mr. Lovelace is preferable to Mr. Solmes, she is not in love with him because he is vain and arrogant with no morals. Clarissa is sure that "THIS man is not THE man," but she promises to tell Miss Howe if her feelings change. She is thankful for Miss Howe's censures and asks her to judge indifferently because she wishes to always act properly. Miss Howe hopes that Clarissa is not in love with Mr. Lovelace but will monitor her as much as possible to be sure.

Mrs. Fortescue knows Mr. Lovelace well and tells Miss Howe that he never rests more than six hours a day and spends all his time writing. Miss Howe believes his writing subjects cannot be honorable and finds it interesting that such a lively person can be calm enough to write so frequently. Mrs. Fortescue also shares that Mr. Lovelace is reasonable, has one very close friend, does not borrow from his relations or anyone, is too gay and inconsiderate to care about his reputation and is not at all a hypocrite. Although he is vain, he carries the vanity off humorously. Mr. Lovelace visits Miss Howe and shares his resentments of Clarissa's treatment at Harlowe Place and his worries that she will accept Mr. Solmes, which Miss Howe doubts.

Mr. Lovelace has found out that James and Uncle Antony have hired spies and vows revenge against the Harlowes, as Lovelace professes his affection for Clarissa. Clarissa has discovered that James has financial motives behind his resentment of Mr. Lovelace in addition to their college rivalry. James expected their grandfather, father, uncles and his godmother to bequeath their estates to him. Grandfather Harlowe left everything in his will to Clarissa already, and now James fears that his uncles will do the same, so he is trying to remove Clarissa from their favor. When the will was revealed, Clarissa made her father the manager of the estate to curb jealousies but it appears that James and Arabella's jealousies have renewed.

Uncle Harlowe and Uncle Antony only object to Mr. Lovelace's morals. Uncle Antony defends Mr. Lovelace against James and Arabella by saying that he is a gentleman, and Clarissa's prudence could serve to reform him. Mr. Lovelace's generosity is verified by an instance of convincing Uncle Antony to allow a tenant forbearance due to hardship and giving the tenant two guineas out of his own pocket. Mr. Lovelace related to Uncle Antony about a time when a husband and wife tenant of his had no clothes because of the high cost of their farm mixed with a foolish step that placed them in debt. Mr. Lovelace reduced their rent, gave them money to buy clothes and invited them to dine with him. Although Clarissa is pleased with Mr. Lovelace's generosity, this does not produce a heart flutter, and she thinks it is a shame that he is not uniformly good. Clarissa is less pleased when Miss Howe informs her that Uncle Antony's honest tenant offered Uncle Antony the two guineas as payment on his debt, and Uncle Antony accepted it, making the man penniless again.

Clarissa will be subject to her father's will if she does not agree to marry Mr. Solmes, but if she agrees, she will be rewarded with jewels, presents and praise. Mr. Solmes is willing to settle his worth on Clarissa and exclude his family. This induces the Harlowes' greed but repulses Clarissa, who feels guilty as the means of such injustice to his family. She cannot live with herself as the cause of his family losing their inheritance, nor will she sacrifice her own happiness to procure wealth for James. Mr. Solmes is interested because Clarissa's grandfather's estates is adjacent to his own and would increase his worth. James has gotten approval of most of the family and managed to ban everyone who does not agree with him from the house. Clarissa plans to ask Mrs. Harlowe for mediation when she learns that Arabella and James plan to bind themselves in a document to further Mr. Solmes' pursuit.

Clarissa is upset with the bad reports she has heard about Mr. Lovelace, and she is concerned that she must carry on her secret correspondence with him to protect her family. The Harlowes must yield because she will not marry Mr. Solmes. Miss Howe is afraid that Clarissa will concede to marriage. Miss Howe has discovered that Arabella secretly loves Mr. Lovelace and part of her motive for forcing Clarissa to become Mrs. Solmes results from this. Miss Howe wishes that Clarissa had kept her grandfather's estate under her own management because she could then retire there with Mrs. Norton, and her family could not pressure her into an imprudent marriage. Clarissa's reasons for placing her estate under her father's management were to avert jealousy and to prove herself worthy of independence by not seeking it too early.

Mr. Solmes is present at breakfast, and when Clarissa angers Mr. Harlowe by moving away from Mr. Solmes, she tries to reinstate the peace by conversing with her suitor. Her family leaves her alone with Mr. Solmes and he courts her, forcing Clarissa to flee the room. Clarissa and Mrs. Harlowe argue about Mr. Solmes. Mrs. Harlowe does not see any objections as he is from a good family, has money and Clarissa declares her heart is not engaged. Clarissa objects to his mind, virtues and honesty. Mrs. Harlowe refuses to condone Clarissa's reasons but offers to excuse Clarissa from dinner by saying she is too modest to appear before her betrothed, but Clarissa objects to giving Mr. Solmes hope. Mrs. Harlowe is furious when she realizes that Clarissa still intends to reject Mr. Solmes.

Mrs. Harlowe tells Mr. Harlowe that Clarissa has offered to live single, but Mr. Harlowe refuses the offer saying the family will only be satisfied if Clarissa has Mr. Solmes. They can never be content for Clarissa to remain single while Mr. Lovelace is single as well. Clarissa is rebuked for her disobedience. When Mrs. Harlowe questions her, Clarissa admits that she corresponds with Mr. Lovelace for the safety of the family, fearing revenge for James' ill treatment. She provides her mother with copies of their correspondence and requests advice on how to end the correspondence. Mrs. Harlowe is pleased with Clarissa and promises to attempt to get Mr. Harlowe to agree to let Clarissa live a single life. Clarissa visits her mother the next morning and is sent away because her mother is in tears. Clarissa begs her mother not to be angry with her, and mother agrees if Clarissa will leave so Clarissa agrees.

Mrs. Harlowe initiates a last conference with Clarissa. If Clarissa does not yield, her mother will not be allowed to speak with her anymore and her father will attempt to persuade her, but after his failure, she will be disowned and destitute. The contract with Mr. Solmes has already been negotiated, and Clarissa's wedding clothes have been ordered. Clarissa will not submit to Mrs. Harlowe's pleas not to separate their family thus, so Mrs. Harlowe leaves Clarissa. Clarissa finds Mrs. Harlowe in Arabella's parlor and intrudes, begging for forgiveness. When Mr. Solmes is admitted, Clarissa embarrasses her mother and sister by continuing her objections against the man. Clarissa is forbidden to see family and must go to her room, unless she takes this last opportunity to be civil to Mr. Solmes. She goes to her room.

Letters 11-21 dated March 1st through March 4th Analysis

Clarissa learns more information about Mr. Lovelace in these letters. She also learns to abhor Mr. Solmes more than ever. Secrets are unearthed, such as Arabella's love for Mr. Lovelace and James' greed. The Harlowes' characters are revealed through their stubbornness in insisting on Clarissa's marriage to Mr. Solmes. Clarissa's temper is much sweeter and more obliging than her relations' in general, which this is what they counted on to complete their negotiations; however, Clarissa also has a streak of Harlowe stubbornness in her temperament, which allows her to be steadfast in her refusal to marry Mr. Solmes. Mrs. Harlowe would yield but is forced to participate with the family against Clarissa for the sake of peace with the remainder of her family.

The first conflict is elaborated here, and the tone becomes oppressive as all of Clarissa's desires are ignored and complete obedience the only acceptable reply. Many repetitious arguments are used as Mrs. Harlowe enters and exits Clarissa's room six times during the course of these letters in an attempt to persuade Clarissa to concede. Mr. Solmes' character is further developed by his offer to disinherit his family for Clarissa. Uncle Antony's character is revealed when he accepts the destitute tenant's last two guineas as payment.

This section contains 1,516 words
(approx. 4 pages at 400 words per page)
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