Study Guide

Clarissa - Letters 31-36 dated March 13th through March 18th Summary & Analysis

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Letters 31-36 dated March 13th through March 18th Summary

Mr. Lovelace writes his best friend, John Belford, to complain of the treatment he has received from the Harlowes. Mr. Lovelace had heard rumors of Clarissa Harlowe's virtue and appealed to Uncle Antony to introduce him, but Uncle Antony blundered and introduced him to Arabella. He complains of his love for Clarissa and her indifference; he has not been in love since his first love jilted him, and he began taking revenge on all ladies who would permit it. He denies that he is playing a game with Clarissa, though he does admit that winning her would be a triumph over the whole sex and sufficient revenge against the Harlowes. His only objection to Clarissa is her last name, but he plans to "take the hated name of Harlowe and turn it into Love."

If he is unable to have Clarissa, he will pursue revenge against James and requests that his band of varlets join him to frighten Clarissa's uncle, who is traveling with two armed servants, since Lovelace's appearance at church, which was an attempt at a reconciliation. Lovelace changes his mind and requests only John Belford's attendance, giving him directions. He mentions a girl at the inn, who he names Rosebud and requests that John Belford does not violate her because Mr. Lovelace has refrained from doing so himself and plans to provide her with 100 pounds so she can marry the carpenter, Johnny, with whom she is in love.

Clarissa writes to Uncle Harlowe begging him to intercede for her or allow her to visit him until father concedes, but he refuses both requests. Clarissa asks Uncle Antony to promote her cause because of her dislike for Mr. Solmes, but he also refuses, saying that her family is wiser than she and knows what is best for her. Clarissa writes Mr. Solmes expressing her dislike and requesting that he withdraw his suit, but he responds that he will persist as long as she remains unmarried.

Mr. Lovelace admits that he has employed a Harlowe servant, Joseph Leman, to spy on the Harlowes for him. He describes the method he instructed Joseph to use in order to convince the family that Clarissa is not corresponding with anyone. He plans, with Joseph's help, to visit Clarissa while she is feeding her chickens. He believes that he can win her over by his love and continence. Clarissa is frightened on her way home from her woodhouse by Mr. Lovelace's appearance. He expresses his love for Clarissa, contempt at Harlowes and disgust at Mr. Solmes. He has been permitted to offer Clarissa his aunt, Lady Betty Lawrence's, protection. This interview makes Clarissa think higher of Mr. Lovelace, but she still denies feeling any flutters. Mr. Lovelace explains that his appearance in church was for an attempt at reconciliation and convinces Clarissa to continue their correspondence. Clarissa would still prefer to live single, but now she worries that she may be forced to choose between Mr. Lovelace and Mr. Solmes.

Letters 31-36 dated March 13th through March 18th Analysis

The antagonist, Mr. Lovelace, is first introduced through his own writing in these letters. His admittance of his schemes foreshadows his future misconduct and verifies Miss Howe's earlier description that he is not a hypocrite. His violence and pride are uncovered through his declarations against James and the rest of the Harlowes if Clarissa will not become Mrs. Lovelace. He writes his letters with a tone of levity that is pretty consistent throughout the novel. He shows his high spirits, but also his generosity.

The Harlowes' stubbornness is further seen and verified. Mr. Solmes also shows his own perverse stubbornness in his refute of Clarissa's arguments about the insensibility of insisting on a wife that hates him.

Mr. Lovelace's appearance at the wood house foreshadows his later meeting with Clarissa that results in their elopement. His ability to convince her to continue their correspondence is symbolic of his control over her through fear and force. Clarissa's fear that she will be forced to choose Mr. Lovelace or Mr. Solmes foreshadows her choice to elope.

This section contains 699 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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