Study Guide

Clarissa - Letters 225-229 dated June 8th Summary & Analysis

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Letters 225-229 dated June 8th Summary

Mr. Lovelace wakes to an alarm raised over a fire upstairs, but by the time he reaches the room, it has been extinguished. Dorcas also wakes Clarissa, who is very frightened and faints in Mr. Lovelace's arms. When she regains consciousness, she blames the fire on Mr. Lovelace and begs him to leave her if he means her no dishonor, insisting that she will kill herself before losing her honor. Mr. Lovelace swears his innocence concerning the fire and begs her forgiveness for seeing her in her nightgown. Clarissa agrees to forgive him and allows him to kiss her before he leaves her. Immediately he regrets losing the opportunity and returns to her door to ask to speak with her again, but Clarissa, who is crying, ignores him and bolts another lock. Mr. Lovelace is impressed with her virtue but worries that she will not keep her promise to forgive him.

The next day Clarissa refuses to breakfast with Mr. Lovelace. Dorcas offers to bring breakfast to her chamber, but Clarissa refuses that as well. Mr. Lovelace knocks on Clarissa's door and requests that she inspect the damage from the fire as proof of his innocence in the matter. Clarissa insists that she cannot see him. Mr. Lovelace rages against her for breaking her promise to forgive him. He agrees to leave her alone all day if she will marry him the next. Clarissa still refuses to see him but agrees to write him. Dorcas takes Mr. Lovelace a note from Clarissa, which says she cannot see him and she hopes to return to her family. If she is forced to stay with him, she will not see him for at least one week due to her outrage at his treatment. Mr. Lovelace pleads his innocence in the fire affair and reminds Clarissa of her promise to forgive him, requesting to beg forgiveness on his knees and discuss the ceremony. Clarissa does not care about the plans for the ceremony nor what other people think about her, since she thinks she is vile now. Mr. Lovelace reminds Clarissa that he yielded to her entreaties not to carry the matter further, and he leaves to obtain the license and settlements, hoping to make tomorrow the "happy day." When he peaks through her keyhole on his way out and sees her sobbing prostrate on her bed, he regrets his actions the previous night.

While he waits for the license, he considers allowing the fire to be Clarissa's final test but decides against it because her resentment to the matter shows distrust more than love. Her belief that the fire was his contrivance hurts his sense of honor, and he does not like the idea of his wife being better than him. He decides that if Clarissa insists upon a full week's distance from him, it is with a mind to obtain Miss Howe's assistance in escaping him, and he will reread their letters to renew his vengeance.

While Mr. Lovelace is abroad, Clarissa asks for bread and water for the week. She sends Will with a letter for Miss Howe and, when he returns, sends him with a letter for Mr. Lovelace. On his way to deliver the letter to Mr. Lovelace, Will has misgivings and returns. Dorcas peeks into Clarissa's keyhole but is unable to see Clarissa because the keys are in the door. There is no response to her knocks, so Dorcas opens the door to find the room empty. The ladies search the entire house and question local chair drivers about seeing Clarissa. One driver admits that he followed her to see her hail a coach to take her to Holborn-bars.

Mr. Lovelace is devastated when he returns home to find out that Clarissa has run away. He worries about whose hands she may fall into, since she knows no one and rages at Widow Sinclair and her girls for allowing Clarissa to escape. Mr. Lovelace plans to place an ad in the paper claiming Clarissa is an eloped wife if he does not find her soon. He finds a letter addressed to Mr. Lovelace from Clarissa in her room that renounces him forever.

A letter arrives from Miss Howe informing Clarissa that an acquaintance, Miss Lardner, saw Clarissa at church and sent a servant to inquire about Clarissa's lodgings. The servant discovered that there are two houses: one is kept for decent people but the other is a brothel. Miss Howe also inquires about Captain Tomlinson, but there is no such person in Uncle Harlowe's neighborhood. Miss Howe is convinced that Captain Tomlinson, Doleman and Mennell are Mr. Lovelace's implements. She accounts for the delays in performing the ceremony with an accusation that Mr. Lovelace has or used to have designs against Clarissa's honor. She praises Clarissa for her watchfulness, which prevented such designs from succeeding. She learns that the license has been applied for, and the settlements are nearly complete and takes this as a sign that Mr. Lovelace is convinced of Clarissa's virtue and honor and will now marry her. She advises Clarissa to remove to other lodgings immediately and marry Mr. Lovelace, but if he attempts to detain her in that odious house, Clarissa should leave him. Mr. Lovelace plans to forge a letter from Clarissa to Miss Howe in order to convince Miss Howe to come to town where he can ruin her. He is convinced that Clarissa will come to her friend's aid and then he will have them both. He decides against this scheme both to save Mr. Hickman the grief and because he knows Clarissa will write Miss Howe as soon as she arrives somewhere and his letter will likely arrive too late.

Letters 225-229 dated June 8th Analysis

Clarissa blames the fire on Mr. Lovelace, which shows that she is aware that he has used contrivances to gain access to her in the past. Since Mr. Lovelace swears, even to Mr. Belford, that this was not a scheme on his part, it is very ironic that this is the contrivance of which Clarissa verbally accuses him, as well as the one that causes an indissoluble rift between them. His regret that he did not push the point as soon as she convinces him to leave proves his modesty in her presence and his indecency in her absence. Her over-niceness is displayed by her extreme emotions over the fact.

The next morning she refuses to eat breakfast, which foreshadows a future need for food and indicates that this refusal may have been part of her scheme to escape. Clarissa informs Mr. Lovelace that she cannot see him, and she hopes to return to her family, which also foreshadows her escape. Her refusal to discuss the ceremony furthermore foreshadows her escape, as well as her unwillingness to marry Mr. Lovelace. His pleading his defense by stating that he yielded to her entreaties is ironic because she should not have had to beg him to stop treating her imprudently. His regrets indicate that he has a conscience; unfortunately, he always seems to get the better of it. His consideration of allowing the fire to be Clarissa's final test parallels the Harlowes' idea of their last trial with Mr. Solmes.

Mr. Lovelace demonstrates his pride in his resentment that Clarissa's reaction shows distrust more than love, as well as his disliking the idea of his wife being better than he. This dislike is ironic since he chose and pursued Clarissa, knowing she is better than he. Mr. Lovelace believes that if Clarissa insists on the full week's distance from him, it is with a mind to appeal to Miss Howe for assistance. This foreshadows Clarissa's escape—it is ironic because it is approximately at the very time Mr. Lovelace is thinking that Clarissa is making her escape. Clarissa's scheme to escape parallels many of Mr. Lovelace's contrivances; however, it juxtaposes them in the fact that Clarissa's actions/reasons are morally motivated, rather than immoral as Lovelace's actions/reasons. Clarissa running away from Mr. Lovelace parallels her elopement with him. The letter left for Mr. Lovelace in Clarissa's room indicates her distress and foreshadows her extreme resentment.

The letter that arrives from Miss Howe is ironic because, had it arrived earlier, the information it conveys would have caused Clarissa to leave Mr. Lovelace regardless of the fire incident. Mr. Lovelace's conviction that Clarissa will come to Miss Howe's aid if he ruins her demonstrates his knowledge of the girls' friendship and shows an irony in the juxtaposition of the girls' situations if he carries out his scheme. He decides against it to save Mr. Hickman the embarrassment, once again showing respect to men that he does not show to women.

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