Study Guide

Clarissa - Study Guide Letters 176-188 dated May 9th through May 18th Summary & Analysis

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Letters 176-188 dated May 9th through May 18th Summary

Clarissa keeps Mr. Lovelace at a distance. They argue when he insists on attending church with her, and she tells him that she requested her family's assistance to help her escape him. He refuses to leave her alone. He worries that she will leave him.

When Clarissa tells Miss Howe about the letter incident, Miss Howe advises Clarissa to attempt to get Mr. Lovelace's letters or to leave him. She tells Clarissa that a rumor is circulating that James intends to kidnap Clarissa. Miss Howe hopes that everything will end well with Clarissa as an example of prudence and virtue. Mr. Hickman agrees to attempt mediation through Uncle Harlowe, but is unsuccessful. Miss Howe informs Mrs. Norton that Clarissa is eager to reconcile with her family and urges her to make it known to Mrs. Harlowe, but Mrs. Norton responds that, although Mrs. Harlowe is very grieved, reconciliation is impossible at present. When Mrs. Norton questions Clarissa's virtue, Miss Howe assures her that Clarissa is pure. Miss Howe also expresses contempt for the Harlowes, stating she feels pity for none and blames them all. Mrs. Harlowe writes Mrs. Norton praising Clarissa in the past and declaring that her past prudence makes the offense even worse. No one will forgive her, but Mrs. Harlowe still loves "the dear creature."

Miss Howe feels reconciliation is impossible. She informs Clarissa that everything they know negative about Mr. Lovelace's character occurred before he met Clarissa, and he has made no new offenses since he began courting her. She offers to share her fortune with Clarissa and live single with her. Miss Howe gossips that Uncle Antony is courting Mrs. Howe, and Miss Howe is so disgusted by the fact that if Mrs. Howe encourages him, she will reject Mr. Hickman and run away to be with Clarissa. Otherwise, she worries about the delay and advises Clarissa to marry Mr. Lovelace immediately. Since he has not offered to set the date or produce settlements, she insists that Clarissa forget modesty and inquire into them herself. Clarissa dislikes this plan but agrees to approach Mr. Lovelace about wedding plans. She worries whether he will resent the way she has treated him and decides to humble herself to him slowly.

When Mr. Lovelace returns from dining out, he begs an audience with Clarissa, but she refuses because she does not feel well, offering to meet him in the morning if she feels better. At their meeting the next morning, Mr. Lovelace condemns Clarissa's reserve to him and her preference for her family, while she condemns his morals. When he causes Clarissa to leave him by breaking into a fit of passion, he sends to her apologies and convinces her to return to him. Mr. Lovelace begins to talk about settlements for Clarissa to consider, but Clarissa tells him to write them down, and she will consider them in private. She fears that leaving him at this point would ruin her reputation more than marrying him could possibly do. Mr. Lovelace sends Clarissa the generous settlements offered, promising to adjust them to please her, but still not setting a date. Clarissa sends a copy of the settlements to Miss Howe for approval, but Mr. Lovelace is confident that Clarissa is pleased with his offered terms. She accepts his suggestion of Lord M serving as a father to give her away, but is not pleased that they cannot set a date because of Lord M's affliction with gout. When Clarissa refuses his attempt to kiss her, he is angry at her coldness and reserve and declares revenge. He loves and hates Clarissa simultaneously.

Letters 176-188 dated May 9th through May 18th Analysis

The fact that Miss Howe tells Clarissa that James plans to kidnap her still, a rumor circulated by Mr. Lovelace to serve his purposes, provides an example of the influence Mr. Lovelace has and the capability to bend circumstances to his will. Miss Howe's appeal to Mrs. Norton further proves her loyalty. Miss Howe's advice for Clarissa to give over modesty to inquire about settlements and setting a date prove her capability to think like a man, a very unusual accomplishment for a lady in the time period.

Mrs. Harlowe's declaration that Clarissa's past prudence worsens her present offense parallels Clarissa's earlier statement that Mr. Lovelace's low acts are more contemptible with his high intelligence. Uncle Harlowe's refusal to mediate with the family for Clarissa proves the family's unity against her as well as their unreasonable stubbornness. Clarissa's worry that Mr. Lovelace will resent the way she has treated him proves that she is aware that she has been unkind. Clarissa decides to humble herself slowly to Mr. Lovelace, a rare instance of her Harlowe pride.

Clarissa admits to Mr. Lovelace that she is seeking her family's protection against him, which foreshadows his decision to hasten her ruin. Mr. Lovelace's settlements are offered to pacify Clarissa when she is angry with him, showing his calculating manipulation. His suggestion of Lord M giving Clarissa away serves as a further delay in setting the date. Mr. Lovelace's ingenuous devices to delay the wedding foreshadow his ingenuity in ruining Clarissa. Mr. Lovelace's simultaneous love and hate of Clarissa parallels her feelings for him in a much more passionate degree. His declaration for revenge because she will not kiss him shows his pride.

This section contains 909 words
(approx. 3 pages at 400 words per page)
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