Study Guide

Clarissa - Letters 56-64 dated March 25th through March 29th Summary & Analysis

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Letters 56-64 dated March 25th through March 29th Summary

Miss Howe has no advice if Clarissa will not resume her estate. She is afraid that Clarissa will be forced to marry Mr. Solmes, who has reaffirmed his opinion that wives should be ruled through fear. Clarissa will have to convince Mr. Solmes that her avowed aversion was only a maiden coyness. Miss Howe argues with her mother about Clarissa's incredible sensibility and intelligence, citing examples. Mrs. Howe's only disagreement is Clarissa's current disobedience, and she advises Clarissa to obey her parents and marry Mr. Solmes.

Clarissa demands that Mr. Lovelace leave her alone for peace's sake. Clarissa refused Mr. Solmes' request for an interview in order to acquaint her with some discoveries he has made about Mr. Lovelace. When Aunt Hervey writes Clarissa to say that she will be sent to Uncle Antony's the very next day, Clarissa sends one letter to her mother and one to her father, which are both returned unopened. She writes to her Uncle Harlowe, enclosing the two torn letters, requesting to see her parents before she is forced to leave. Uncle Harlowe informs her that no one will see her because she is so loved that they are afraid of her ability to persuade them to her opinion. If she will marry Mr. Solmes, he will personally present her to Mr. and Mrs. Harlowe as a prodigal child. Clarissa reaffirms her desire to live single and suggests that Arabella marry Mr. Solmes, in which case Clarissa will relinquish her grandfather's estate to Arabella and her inheritance and live on an allowance from her father. Although Uncle Harlowe thinks this offer is acceptable, and it causes some debate among the family, it is ultimately rejected through a letter from James, and Clarissa is sentenced to depart the next day. Clarissa writes to Uncle Harlowe rejecting James' orders and requesting orders from a higher authority.

Mr. Lovelace writes Clarissa, requesting an interview in the garden. Clarissa does not know how to respond, but feels badly when she receives another letter from him stating that he is sick from waiting in the inclement weather the last two nights in hopes of an interview. Mr. Lovelace admits that he pays a Harlowe servant to act as a double agent, incurring Clarissa's displeasure. She guesses that it is Joseph Leman from his behavior, but does not tell Mr. Lovelace of her conjecture. Mr. Lovelace is going to London for business the next day, so he begs for an interview that night, and Clarissa agrees. Clarissa is not worried about his behavior, since he behaved so well during their accidental meeting, and she admits that she would be more moved by his risks and supplications if his morals were not so faulty. Clarissa asks Miss Howe to inquire into his activities and character at the inn where Mr. Lovelace has been lodging.

Betty helps Clarissa pack for Uncle Antony's, meting out impertinence the entire time. Clarissa sends Uncle Harlowe a request for a delay in her departure, and the delay is permitted under the circumstance that she permits a one hour visit from Mr. Solmes in the presence of Uncle Antony, James or Arabella. Clarissa agrees to the interview Tuesday at 4:00 p.m. with Uncle Antony as a chaperon. She cancels her meeting with Mr. Lovelace. His response is very angry and raving, and Clarissa replies with the recommendation not to bother her anymore since she is so horrible to him. Clarissa intends to appeal to Colonel Morden for assistance.

Letters 56-64 dated March 25th through March 29th Analysis

Miss Howe's frustration shows her character and the status of women during the time period. There is nothing she can really do to help, and there are not many options for Clarissa either. Mrs. Howe's attitude emphasizes the attitude of the day, that children, especially female offspring, should unconditionally obey their parents. Although she praises Clarissa and has always loved her, this disobedience is not permissible. Clarissa's avoidance of Mr. Solmes shows her absolute abhorrence of the man; whereas, her family's threats to send her to Uncle Antony's show an unyielding temper that is beginning to reach a crisis.

Clarissa continues to reject James' authority and demand a higher authority in his demands, a will that her family does not seem to have expected. Uncle Harlowe's offer to present Clarissa as a prodigal child if she will marry Mr. Solmes demonstrates the extremity to which the Harlowes are considering this disobedience, alluding to the prodigal son in the Bible, who returns after making many mistakes and is greeted and loved by his father. Clarissa's desperation in agreeing to the interview with Mr. Lovelace foreshadows her later elopement. Her cancellation shows that the original appointment was against her better judgment, but she is being driven to a point of confusion within herself. Mr. Lovelace's reaction foreshadows his preparations for her cancellations in the future that lead him into the trickery used to force her to elope.

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