Study Guide

Clarissa - Letters 138-154 dated April 21st through April 26th Summary & Analysis

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Letters 138-154 dated April 21st through April 26th Summary

Joseph informs Mr. Lovelace that a new scheme has been initiated to reveal Mr. Lovelace's rape of Miss Betterton, who died bearing Mr. Lovelace's child that he does not claim. Mr. Lovelace defends his actions with Miss Betterton saying that she loved him but he told her he would not marry her. He loved her and her family took her away from him against her will, trying in vain to force her to place rape charges against Mr. Lovelace. Her death was caused by her family's refusal to call a midwife until it was too late. He has secretly seen his son twice but the boy's aunt is fond of of the boy, and Mr. Lovelace is loath to separate them, knowing the Bettertons will provide for him. Mr. Lovelace asks Joseph to suggest to Singleton that James may approve of seizing Clarissa and carrying her off. He wants her to be frightened and allow him to stay with her in London for protection. He swears that his intentions to Clarissa are honorable, and he has not bothered with anyone else since he met Clarissa.

Ironically, his last letter to Mr. Belford admits that his proposal was unintentional, and he would have resented losing the opportunity to test Clarissa's virtue if she had accepted him. Mr. Belford disapproves of Mr. Lovelace's intentions to test Clarissa because of her unfair situation. If he loves her, he should trust her renowned virtue because he will never find anyone more virtuous or who loves him better. He reminds Mr. Lovelace that his marriage to Clarissa was partially revenge against the Harlowes and questions if he would give that idea up so easily.

Clarissa writes to Aunt Hervey again to request her belongings, offering to explain what has happened if encouraged. Aunt Hervey secretly writes Clarissa to tell her that her family is furious and reconciliation is absolutely impossible at the present, and her belongings will not be sent to her. She relays the rumor that Wednesday was to be Clarissa's last trial concerning Mr. Solmes, though she admits some rather irritating results if Clarissa had persisted in her refusal. Dolly begs to write her but the family has forbidden it because they believe that Clarissa is tainted and may influence Dolly, an insinuation that greatly offends Clarissa. Aunt Hervey forwards Clarissa's letter to Harlowe Place in case the family changes their minds.

Clarissa is indifferent about going to London without the hope of reconciliation. She wants reconciliation partially so she can have Mr. Lovelace on her own terms or not at all; she hates being in his power. Miss Howe urges Clarissa to stop insulting Mr. Lovelace and marry him. She also believes Clarissa should give up reconciliation with her hopeless family.

Arabella sends Clarissa a letter agreeing to send her clothes, since Mrs. Harlowe cannot stand looking at them. She suggests that Clarissa needs her clothes because Mr. Lovelace does not want to buy her new clothes and will not marry her. She is refused her books because they did not teach her what is proper, and she will not receive money or jewels because her family wants to see her beg in the streets. She tells Clarissa that Mr. Harlowe "imprecated a fearful curse" on her at the first news of her elopement. Arabella also tells Clarissa that all the pictures Clarissa drew have been removed and placed in her closet, which has been nailed up. James vows revenge against Mr. Lovelace for the insult given to the Harlowe family. Mrs. Norton is even ashamed of Clarissa, her favorite. Uncle Harlowe, Uncle Antony, Aunt Hervey and Arabella renounce Clarissa forever.

Clarissa is devastated by the curse her father invoked, but Miss Howe comforts her by telling her that God does not allow curses upon the just. Mrs. Howe condemns Arabella's letter as unnaturally cruel and encourages Miss Howe to comfort Clarissa. Miss Howe denounces the Harlowes and suggests Clarissa write Colonel Morden. She also encourages Clarissa to show Arabella's letter to Mr. Lovelace. Clarissa does not show the letter to Mr. Lovelace, but he is angry from her reaction to it, assuming that it is cruel. He has been kind, and Clarissa begs not to hear anymore rumors about his immorality because she feels that she has not treated him fairly. She receives his declarations unreservedly now and has verbally conceded her esteem for him. He suggests an immediate wedding, but Clarissa supposes they will have plenty of time once they arrive in London. Miss Howe wishes that Clarissa had not postponed the wedding. Clarissa admits that she is ill and having convulsions from Arabella's letter. This concerns Mr. Lovelace, who fears she is dying and, when she gets better, fears she will make a vaporish wife.

When Miss Howe's mother catches her daughter writing to Clarissa, they argue, and Mrs. Howe yells at Mr. Hickman for conveying the letters. Miss Howe is furious because she thinks she should be the only one allowed to treat Mr. Hickman like a fool. She points out that even if Wednesday were the last trial, the plan was for Mr. Harlowe to kneel and plead with Clarissa to yield, and Miss Howe is convinced that it would have worked.

Clarissa and Mr. Lovelace arrive in London. He rents all the empty apartments in the house to prevent an enemy from doing so. He hires Dorcas Wykes, a girl who is very loyal to him, to be Clarissa's servant, though Clarissa dislikes her and is only persuaded to permit it due to Widow Sinclair's entreaties. Mr. Lovelace provides books for Clarissa and plans to take her for public entertainment as soon as she will permit it.

Letters 138-154 dated April 21st through April 26th Analysis

The case of Miss Betterton provides an example of Mr. Lovelace's past licentious behavior and the results thereof. It also foreshadows Clarissa's end as a result of his passions. Mr. Lovelace continually contradicts himself, proving his lying nature. He generally admits to Mr. Belford his true intentions and thoughts, which are nearly always dishonorable. Mr. Lovelace's concerns of Clarissa making a vaporish wife prove his levity and selfishness. Hiring Dorcas and renting all the other apartments in the house foreshadow Mr. Lovelace's foul intentions against Clarissa.

Aunt Hervey's secret letter to Clarissa shows that she still loves her niece, but Arabella's harsh words prove her jealousy and spite and develop her character. Miss Howe's suggestion that Clarissa show Mr. Lovelace Arabella's letter, along with her general denunciation of the Harlowes emphasizes her contempt of Clarissa's family and proves her loyalty to Clarissa. Miss Howe's anger at her mother for insulting Mr. Hickman provides evidence of her feelings for him and foreshadows their marriage. Mr. Harlowe's curse foreshadows Clarissa's future, and her convulsions show her fear that the curse will come true.

This section contains 1,160 words
(approx. 3 pages at 400 words per page)
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