Study Guide

Clarissa - Letters 155-166 dated April 26th through May 5th Summary & Analysis

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Letters 155-166 dated April 26th through May 5th Summary

When Miss Howe tells Clarissa that she will not marry until Clarissa is happy, Clarissa begs her not to wait and to marry Mr. Hickman immediately because he is a worthy man. Clarissa is very unhappy with her London lodgings. She does not like Widow Sinclair, and she thinks Dorcas has a sly eye. Mr. Lovelace's forwardness is appalling, especially since he rented all the other apartments in the house, supposedly to prevent an enemy from doing so and told the ladies of the house that Clarissa is his wife, who refuses to consummate their marriage until she reconciles with her family. Mr. Lovelace annoyingly continues to hint at marriage without pursuing the topic, in which case, Clarissa would agree. She agrees to allow Mr. Lovelace to stay one night at Widow Sinclair's house provided he removes to Lord M's the next day. She does not plan to stay in these lodgings very long. Miss Howe defends Mr. Lovelace's reasons for lying as plausible and cautions Clarissa not to make the widow her enemy. Clarissa is very annoyed with Mr. Lovelace after a couple days in the house because she suspects that he knows the ladies in the house rather well. She also doubts the ladies' modesty, but she eventually begins to adjust to them. She even blames herself for her earlier censures.

Mr. Lovelace leaves for the day to inquire into James' kidnapping scheme and to bring Charlotte to visit Clarissa, but it irritates her when he returns very soon. He has found a house into which for Clarissa to move, and she has no objections, since he is not pressing for a date. Mr. Lovelace attends church with Clarissa and pleases her by paying attention and discussing pious affairs afterward. This gives Clarissa hopes for a true reformation.

Mr. Lovelace is very happy that Clarissa is passing for his wife. He plans a small party with Clarissa and his friends in order to have witnesses to Clarissa's admitting that she is his wife, so that if she attempts to run away when he tests her, he can bring "his wife" back by force. He is very eager for his friends to meet Clarissa and reminds them how to behave around her. Although Clarissa refuses to go, Mr. Lovelace insists. He piques her interest about his friends by telling stories about some of their adventures together. Clarissa tells Miss Howe about the upcoming party and how displeased she is, particularly about a lady that Mr. Lovelace insinuates with whom she should begin a friendship, Miss Partington.

Clarissa hates the party. Miss Partington encourages the men's freedoms and the men are too free. Clarissa describes Mr. Belton as gay, Mr. Mowbray as immoral and Mr. Tourville as a conceited coxcomb. She thinks Mr. Belford is obliging and good-natured but also the wickedest next to Mr. Lovelace. Mr. Lovelace is the best of the group and appears to great advantage, but Clarissa dislikes the company he keeps and blames him more for his low acts due to his superiority. After the party, Widow Sinclair sends a request to Clarissa that Miss Partington be her bedfellow for the night due to a shortage of beds. Although Clarissa hates to affront anyone, the request seems ill-bred and suspicious, so Clarissa refuses.

When Mrs. Howe asks Clarissa to end the correspondence with Miss Howe, Clarissa feels she must and informs Miss Howe, hoping it will not last long because her prospects seem likely to end in marriage soon. Miss Howe absolutely refuses to end the correspondence and tells Clarissa if she stops writing that Miss Howe will run away and join Clarissa in London. She advises Clarissa to obtain settlements and speedily marry. Clarissa agrees to continue writing as long as Miss Howe does not come to London. Clarissa forbids Miss Howe to write, however, saying that if absolutely necessary, Mr. Hickman can reply. Mr. Hickman writes Clarissa to inform her that Miss Howe agrees to the terms. He also sends his regrets for Clarissa's situation and offers his services if necessary.

Letters 155-166 dated April 26th through May 5th Analysis

Miss Howe's refusal to marry until Clarissa is happy shows friendship surpassing the usual. Miss Howe's refusing to end the correspondence on penalty of joining Clarissa provides further evidence of Miss Howe's unwavering loyalty. Mr. Hickman's letter to Clarissa offering his services foreshadows his future acts as an intermediary between the two ladies, as well as exemplifies his deep regard for Clarissa. Clarissa's disapproval of Mr. Lovelace's actions proves her virtue and her suspicions against him. Her yielding from her dislike of the ladies in the house show the state of mind she is being pressed into by the company she is in and the contrived circumstances that Mr. Lovelace is continually monitoring. Clarissa's dislike of the party and the company lead to further suspicions against Mr. Lovelace. Her great disdain for Mr. Lovelace's actions after seeing his superiority compared to his band of varlets proves the capabilities of her intellect and reinforces the idea that greater intellects should produce greater thoughts. Because Mr. Lovelace is better, he should do better. Clarissa's refusal of Miss Partington as a bedfellow insinuates that she suspects Mr. Lovelace may attempt to compromise her honor. Mr. Lovelace's continuation of wedding plans shows a scheme to attempt preventing Clarissa from becoming suspicious. Mr. Lovelace's reasons for the party foreshadow Clarissa running away after he assaults her after the fire, as well as after her absolute ruin.

This section contains 937 words
(approx. 3 pages at 400 words per page)
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