Study Guide

Clarissa - Letters 167-175 dated May 2nd through May 9th Summary & Analysis

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Letters 167-175 dated May 2nd through May 9th Summary

Mr. Lovelace tells John Belford that Clarissa did not like the varlets, but Mr. Lovelace is curious to know their opinion of her. Her dislike and distrust for Miss Partington and so many other things annoy him very much. He is very pleased that Mrs. Howe has forbidden correspondence between Clarissa and Miss Howe, regardless of Clarissa's despair over the fact. Mr. Belford, along with Mr. Belton, Mr. Mowbray and Mr. Tourville, praise Clarissa and defend her dislikes as rational and insightful. They anger Mr. Lovelace by their urges for Mr. Lovelace to marry Clarissa and to stop thinking about ruining her. He does not believe that Clarissa loves him and feels it necessary to prove her virtue. He laments that if he does conquer her, no future conquest will be as glorious. He jokingly threatens to ruin Mr. Belford's suit with Charlotte. Mr. Belford knows how stubborn Mr. Lovelace can be and requests that he at least attempt to conquer her by love rather than artifice. Mr. Lovelace displeases Clarissa for several days after the party by complaining of her reserve.

Clarissa receives her clothes from her family and a letter forwarded from Colonel Morden, who James told of recent events. Colonel Morden does not know Mr. Lovelace or Mr. Solmes very well, but what he has heard of Mr. Lovelace indicates that the man is very immoral. His concern is that Clarissa will decline to Mr. Lovelace's morals, rather than Mr. Lovelace ascending to hers. He believes Clarissa should oblige her family and marry Solmes. He plans to return to England soon to settle Clarissa's estate and hopes to find peace returned to the Harlowe family. Clarissa is very distraught and disappointed in her actions. She requests that Miss Howe encourage Mr. Hickman to appeal to Uncle Harlowe in her behalf and try to espouse him to her cause, since Uncle Harlowe has some authority in the Harlowe family. Clarissa is willing to renounce her estate and live unmarried for the remainder of her life. The matter is urgent because Mr. Lovelace introduced his friend, Mr. Mennell, and the two men urge Clarissa to take possession of The Grove.

Mr. Lovelace explains that Mr. Mennell is actually Mr. Doleman's nephew, and, upon meeting Clarissa, he experiences qualms about assisting in her ruin. Mr. Lovelace admits he has misgivings himself at times but manages to overcome them nicely. Mr. Lovelace suspects that Clarissa still corresponds with Miss Howe and decides to get at Clarissa's pockets somehow. He arranges for Dorcas to take Clarissa into her confidence, hoping Clarissa will reciprocate. Since Dorcas has the keys to Clarissa's closet, Mr. Lovelace instructs her to find and transcribe Clarissa's letters for him. Dorcas fears this attempt because Clarissa double seals her letters to prevent anyone else from reading them. Mr. Lovelace determines that he will obtain copies of the letters and begins planning a new approach.

Mr. Lovelace leaves during the morning, and when he returns, Dorcas tells him that Clarissa is writing in the dining room and has unwittingly dropped a letter on the floor. Mr. Lovelace enters the dining room to tell Clarissa that the house is almost ready for Clarissa to move into and promises that he will stay at Widow Sinclair's. He enrages Clarissa when he rapturously kisses her. He apologizes with a low bow, picking up the dropped letter in his ascent. Clarissa sees him placing it in his pocket and retrieves it, rebuking him and leaving him angrily. She refuses to see him for some time after this incident and orders her letters to be brought to her immediately. Mr. Lovelace decides to spread a rumor that James plans to kidnap Clarissa to ensure her need of his protection. He believes that her lack of other protection and the ruin of her reputation by being with someone of his low reputation ensure him of Clarissa.

Letters 167-175 dated May 2nd through May 9th Analysis

Clarissa's character presents itself in a very positive light by the fact that Mr. Lovelace's loyal varlets disapprove of Lovelace's attempts against Clarissa after meeting her even after discovering that she does not like them. Mr. Lovelace's joke about ruining Mr. Belford's chances with Charlotte foreshadows their marriage in the distant future. Mr. Belford's suggestion that Mr. Lovelace attempt to win Clarissa by love rather than artifice allows insight into Mr. Lovelace's past as known by Mr. Belford. It also suggests that Mr. Belford does not believe Clarissa can be honestly seduced, since he is opposed to her being ruined.

Colonel Morden's letter to Clarissa appears to foreshadow his opinion when he arrives in town but actually shows an opposition, reinforcing that fact that while the marriage with Mr. Solmes seems ideal, a more intimate acquaintance with the gentleman proves him to be unworthy of Clarissa. Clarissa's reluctance to resume her estate and her appeal to Uncle Harlowe through Mr. Hickman shows her love for her family and her hope for reconciliation. Clarissa's care in ensuring her letters remain unread prove her prudence, which foreshadows that Mr. Lovelace will have to take extraordinary means to compromise her honor. Mr. Lovelace's desire to read them, exemplified by his attempt at procuring one in the dining room, show the low means he is willing to go to in order to make Clarissa even more desolate and despairing.

This section contains 911 words
(approx. 3 pages at 400 words per page)
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