Study Guide

Clarissa - Letters 189-197 dated May 17th through May 21st Summary & Analysis

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Letters 189-197 dated May 17th through May 21st Summary

Mr. Belford praises Clarissa, saying that he would marry a woman like Clarissa if he could. He points out that if Mr. Lovelace ruins Clarissa, it will look like James' scheme to disgrace her. Because Lord M worries about the delays and fears Mr. Lovelace's character, he writes to John Belford begging him to intercede and hasten the wedding. In turn, Mr. Belford writes again to Mr. Lovelace entreating him to treat Clarissa well. Mr. Lovelace is convinced that he will never be happy if he does not try Clarissa virtue, and he defends himself by stating that she loses nothing as long as she resists him. He writes to Lord M saying Clarissa has scruples about the marriage because of Mr. Lovelace's illicit character.

Mr. Belton finds out that his mistress, who has passed for many years as his wife, used his money to make her favorite lover into a gentleman. Mr. Belton cannot disown her because everyone he knows believes she is his wife. Mr. Belton is now unsure if the children she gave birth to are actually his. Mr. Belford raves that wives are honest because their best interests are their husbands' best interests; whereas, mistress do not have the same inhibitions. He urges Mr. Lovelace to marry Clarissa. Mr. Lovelace retorts that Belton's mistress was a low-bred girl, but he will have no such problem with Clarissa, which is the reason he only ruins girls from good families.

Mr. Lovelace convinces Clarissa to agree to go see a tragedy since they are getting along much better. Clarissa admits that she has had a "not unhappy twenty-four hours" with Mr. Lovelace. He arranges for Dorcas to rummage through Clarissa's belongings for letters to transcribe in their absence.

Miss Howe offers to apply to Mrs. Townsend, a lady merchant she knows, to provide Clarissa asylum if it becomes necessary to run away from Mr. Lovelace. Miss Howe and Mr. Hickman review the settlements and approve of them. Uncle Antony sends a proposal letter to Mrs. Howe, which is full of insults concerning Miss Howe. Miss Howe argues with her mother about his offer. Mrs. Howe's interest mainly consists of the increased wealth in case of his death, which is likely to occur first since he is much older. Miss Howe tells her mother to beware of becoming his nurse because he is more likely to become infirm than die. She also wishes that she may be allowed to remain single if Mrs. Howe marries. Mrs. Howe rejects Uncle Antony, blaming her daughter for the refusal.

Letters 189-197 dated May 17th through May 21st Analysis

Mr. Belford's statement that he would marry a woman like Clarissa if he could acknowledges his own unworthiness, while foreshadowing the events that occur between him and Charlotte later. Mr. Belton's situation is ironic since he is having so many problems with his mistress so soon after Mr. Lovelace stated that he would prefer to keep Clarissa as a mistress. The tone of Uncle Antony's letter is very proud and haughty and results in an accidentally comedic proposal. Miss Howe continues to attempt to help Clarissa, proving herself very resourceful as well as loyal. The irony of Mr. Hickman and Miss Howe reviewing the marriage settlements together is entertaining and foreshadows their marriage. Miss Howe's disapproval of Uncle Antony's proposal to Mrs. Howe reinforces the degree of her dislike for the Harlowes. It also serves as a paradox. Mrs. Howe approves of her daughter's lover, while Miss Howe despises her mother's lover. It is also very ironic that as Mr. Lovelace decideds to act more dishonorably by Clarissa, Clarissa and Lovelace begin to get along better.

This section contains 618 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
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