Study Guide

Clarissa - Letters 207-217 dated May 25th through May 29th Summary & Analysis

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Letters 207-217 dated May 25th through May 29th Summary

Clarissa and Mr. Lovelace discuss the settlements, wedding plans and wedding jewels. Clarissa admits she had prepared a response to his settlement offer but ripped it after his odd behavior. Lovelace asks to see the torn pieces and she complies. He is again stricken with how wonderful Clarissa is, but it irritates him that Clarissa will only feel generosity and duty to him because he wants a more romantic love. Mr. Lovelace informs Lord M that Clarissa does not want to have a public ceremony while she is not reconciled to her family and friends. Clarissa hopes that once she is married, Mr. Lovelace's family's influence will persuade her family to reconcile.

Mr. Lovelace gauges Clarissa's love and humanity by pretending to be ill. He, Clarissa, Sally and Polly return from an airing, and when Mr. Lovelace complains of a stomachache, Clarissa is concerned. Mr. Lovelace makes himself very ill by taking a stimulant to make himself vomit. Dorcas portrays his illness as a secret that she tells Clarissa in confidence, and when Clarissa overhears Dorcas and another servant discussing how seriously ill Mr. Lovelace is, she runs crying to him, assuring him of her love. She allows him to kiss her hand and urges him to take an airing. Clarissa declines his invitation to join him because she believes a chair is better for his situation, which pleases Mr. Lovelace very much. Clarissa expresses her concern for his health to Miss Howe, admitting that she loves him. While Mr. Lovelace takes his airing, another servant speaks to Dorcas concerning Mr. Lovelace and Clarissa. Clarissa is terrified that it is involved with James and Singleton's attempt to kidnap her and wishes for Mr. Lovelace's return. Mr. Lovelace is pleased with Clarissa's fear of being taken from him. The servant returns shortly after Mr. Lovelace, and Clarissa eavesdrops on their conversation to discover the servant comes from Captain Tomlinson, a friend of Uncle Harlowe.

The next morning, while Clarissa and Mr. Lovelace discuss the servant's appearance the previous night, Dorcas announces Captain Tomlinson's arrival, and Clarissa hides to eavesdrop. Captain Tomlinson asks Mr. Lovelace if he is interested in reconciling with one Harlowe that may lead to a general reconciliation, though the rest of the family is not privy to his inclinations yet. Mr. Lovelace upsets Clarissa by saying he is not sure because of the way they have treated him but begs Captain Tomlinson to continue. Captain Tomlinson inquires into whether they are married because Uncle Harlowe is worried about the family honor. Mr. Lovelace skirts the issue and finds out that their lodgings were discovered by one of Uncle Harlowe's tenants, who saw them at the play and followed them. Dorcas announces that a gentleman, who is really Clarissa, is waiting impatiently for Mr. Lovelace in the other parlor, and since Captain Tomlinson has prior engagements, they plan to meet the following morning to finish their discussion. Clarissa is pleased with Captain Tomlinson and convinces Mr. Lovelace to admit they are not married and to offer the settlements for Captain Tomlinson's inspection. The next morning, Mr. Lovelace explains the reasons that he is not yet married to Clarissa and agrees to meet Uncle Harlowe halfway. Captain Tomlinson praises Clarissa, who is elated and eager for reconciliation with her family. Mr. Lovelace is very touched and cries when Clarissa states that she is sure the Harlowes will wonder how they could treat Mr. Lovelace so badly.

Mr. Lovelace admits to John Belford that "Captain Tomlinson" is their fellow varlet, Patrick M'Donald. This scheme is designed to prevent Clarissa from abandoning Lovelace. Mr. Lovelace forces his vengeance by rereading Clarissa and Miss Howe's letters. Mr. Lovelace tells Mr. Belford that he and the other varlets have determined a punishment for Miss Howe's nosiness and Mrs. Howe's treatment of Clarissa. Since the Howes and Mr. Hickman plan to visit Mrs. Howe's sister who lives on an island, the varlets in disguise will rent the boat they plan to take, push Mr. Hickman overboard where a skiff will wait to take him ashore, rape the ladies and set them randomly ashore. They will then hide a while until the affair is blown over. Mr. Lovelace disdains being caught but is convinced that if they were caught, they would be pardoned for their family name, money and good looks.

Letters 207-217 dated May 25th through May 29th Analysis

Clarissa and Mr. Lovelace's discussion about the settlements and wedding plans indicate that she has changed her mind again. Clarissa's attempt to yield somewhat to Mr. Lovelace is indicated by her complacency in showing him the torn pieces of her settlement response. Clarissa's respect to her family is demonstrated by her refusal to have a public ceremony to avoid embarrassing the Harlowes. Mr. Lovelace gives an example of the lengths he is willing to take to manipulate Clarissa by pretending to be ill for the purpose of gaging her reaction, as well as by engaging M'Donald to act the part of Captain Tomlinson. His use of a stimulant to cause his illness foreshadows and parallels the opium used in Clarissa's rape. Clarissa shows her love and concern for Mr. Lovelace by her declining to join him for his airing due to believing a chair is better for his situation.

When the servant inquires about Clarissa and Mr. Lovelace, Clarissa demonstrates the view she holds of Mr. Lovelace as her protector by her wish for his return. The return of the servant and the discovery that he comes from Captain Tomlinson foreshadows Captain Tomlinson's arrival and intervention. During Mr. Lovelace's interview with Captain Tomlinson, he admits that he is not sure about the reconciliation, which makes him appear honest. He also avoids answering whether he and Clarissa are married. These appearances are extremely ironic because of the deceitfulness of the whole situation at the scene where this happens, from the house not being what Clarissa believes (it is a brothel) to Captain Tomlinson being a fake.

Mr. Lovelace is very touched by Clarissa's declaration that the Harlowes will wonder at their having treated Mr. Lovelace so poorly, which emphasizes his knowledge of how undeserving he is of Clarissa's compassion. Mr. Lovelace's reason for the Tomlinson scheme is to prevent Clarissa from abandoning him, which foreshadows her escape. His scheme against Miss Howe is a misdirection that appears to foreshadow a punishment to Miss Howe which never occurs. His willingness to spare Mr. Hickman indicates that he has more respect for men than women. Mr. Lovelace's conviction that he and his varlets will be pardoned for their crimes based on their family name, money and good looks reinforces his arrogance that is seen throughout the book.

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