Study Guide

Clarissa - Study Guide Letters 508-520 dated September 16th through September 26th Summary & Analysis

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Letters 508-520 dated September 16th through September 26th Summary

Mr. Belford tells Lord M that he fears ill consequence to Mr. Lovelace from Clarissa's death and urges him to encourage Mr. Lovelace to go abroad. He also informs Lord M of Clarissa's bequest for remembrance rings. Miss Montague responds that their family is hastening Mr. Lovelace's journey. They are all greatly grieved for Clarissa.

Colonel Morden reads Clarissa's will to the Harlowe family. Mrs. Norton and Mrs. Harlowe are absent but Mrs. Harlowe insists beforehand that every article be followed exactly. Everyone praises Clarissa and curses Mr. Lovelace. Everyone regrets their severity to Clarissa, and Colonel Morden reflects that Clarissa's forgiveness and love are more wounding than condemnation and revenge would have been. James and Arabella complain about several articles, such as Mrs. Norton receiving six hundred pounds and Dolly receiving Clarissa's library. Colonel Morden condemns their stupidity, since the legacies would have reverted to the Poor Fund, not them. Colonel Morden decides not to make James his heir because of his selfishness. He praises Clarissa's wisdom in appointing an executor out of the family because her family would have discarded her will completely. Mrs. Harlowe, Uncle Harlowe and Uncle Antony convince Mr. Harlowe to overrule James' objections and observe Clarissa's will completely. They also convince Mr. Harlowe to give up his reimbursements and to fund the funeral himself.

Mr. Belford sends Miss Howe the letters between himself and Mr. Lovelace and Colonel Morden, as well as Clarissa's memorandum book and copies of her posthumous letters. Mr. Belford writes to Mr. Hickman to apologize for the levity of Mr. Lovelace in describing Mr. Hickman. Mr. Hickman assures John Belford that he would think worse of himself if someone who ruined Clarissa could think well of him. Miss Howe cannot pity the Harlowes and hates all men for Mr. Lovelace's sake. She asks to purchase Clarissa's diamond necklace and solitaire, to which Mr. Belford agrees if they come into his hands to sell. Mrs. Harlowe keeps a piece of Clarissa's needlework and the Vandyke style portrait of Clarissa. She also asks Mrs. Norton to make a copy of the book of meditations and allow her to keep the original.

Mr. Belford sends Mr. Lovelace's posthumous letter to Lord M to give him when he can bear it. It states that she promised to write him from her father's house and explains her allegory. She invites Mr. Lovelace to follow her when he is ready, encouraging him to consider his ways, repent and reform. Her only motive is his good and the safety of other innocents. Clarissa forgives Mr. Lovelace and hopes God will forgive him also. She regrets the offense, grief and scandal given to her family. She assures him that he is the cause of her only physical death and wishes him happiness. She admits that she preferred him but has long been above him because of his immorality. She once thought him worth reclaiming and assures him that she has not given over all her hopes of his reformation and urges his repentance.

Mr. Lovelace is unhappy and feels that his punishment should be his sorrow. He agrees to travel but cannot repent. He is angry at Clarissa's coldness in her letter but more so at his own unworthiness. He offers revenge against the Harlowes and blames Widow Sinclair and her ladies. He is afflicted with maddening anguish. Mr. Lovelace writes the next day to demand the return of his last letter. He feels better and repents his mournfulness. He plans to tour Europe with Mowbray and Tourville and hopes Mr. Belford will meet them soon. Mr. Lovelace doubts John Belford's reformation. He asks for a copy of Clarissa's will. Mr. Belford is disappointed in Mr. Lovelace's short-lived penitence. M'Donald is in jail, dying from a wound received during a robbery. He is penitent and regrets his involvement against Clarissa. John Belford suggests that all who were involved in Clarissa's demise are being punished. Mr. Belford details his intentions for reformation, beginning with hiring Widow Lovick as his housekeeper to keep him from relapsing. Once more, Mr. Lovelace blames the Harlowes for Clarissa's death and denies doing anything worthy of breaking her heart. He believes that he deserves pity more than blame. He also blames Mr. Belford for his lack of action to save Clarissa, which Mr. Belford admits and is grieved by. Mr. Lovelace plans to go to town soon before going abroad.

Mr. Belford confronts Colonel Morden about the rumors that he threatens to avenge Clarissa, begging him to refrain, offering to share the entire story and reminding him of his promise to Clarissa not to injure Mr. Lovelace. He points out that the highest injury was to Clarissa and she forgave Lovelace. Clarissa's posthumous letter to Colonel Morden thanks him for his kindness during her childhood and his mediation with the Harlowes. She begs him not to avenge her because vengeance is God's territory. She states that Mr. Lovelace's conscience will avenge her. Colonel Morden promises that he has made no binding resolutions for revenge; his actions depend on Mr. Lovelace's future actions. He lists many reasons to justify avenging Clarissa but reiterates his indecision. Mr. Lovelace reminds him of Clarissa's dying injunctions against revenge and informs him of Widow Sinclair and M'Donald's deaths. Colonel Morden informs him that Mrs. Norton is to be the housekeeper at the Grove, and he has the money for Grandmother Harlowe's jewels. He will pay for Clarissa's personal jewels to give to Dolly. He visits Miss Howe and condemns her behavior to Mr. Hickman, but praises her overall. He blames her for disregarding Clarissa's injunction in her will for Miss Howe to marry Mr. Hickman as soon as possible. Miss Howe and her maid are in deep mourning, and when Mr. Hickman and his servants arrive in deep mourning, Miss Howe asks him who he thinks he is obliging. He says himself because of his love for Clarissa. Miss Howe is not sure if she is angry or pleased. Colonel Morden predicts that this will hasten the wedding.

Letters 508-520 dated September 16th through September 26th Analysis

Mr. Belford's fear that Clarissa's death will result in ill consequences for Mr. Lovelace foreshadows his death in the duel with Colonel Morden. It is ironic that Mr. Belford encourages Mr. Lovelace to go abroad, where the duel occurs. Mrs. Harlowe gains courage to insist that Clarissa's will be performed exactly, which is ironic since she did not have the courage to object to the way Clarissa was treated. James and Arabella's complaints about articles in the will emphasize their greed; Colonel Morden's observation that the funds would have reverted to the Poor Fund makes their greed ironic, since they would likely object even more to that. Mr. Hickman expresses his resentment of Mr. Lovelace by his contentment in being thought badly of by someone so bad. Mrs. Harlowe keeps everything that Clarissa doubtfully offers her in the will, which proves her love and grief. Clarissa explains her allegory to Mr. Lovelace and expresses her unconcern with the temporal by assuring him that he only caused her physical death. This contradicts his continuous assertions that her death is not his fault.

Mr. Lovelace's belief that his sorrow should be his punishment parallels Clarissa's request to Colonel Morden to allow his conscience to avenge her. Mr. Lovelace's request for his letter of repentance is ironic because he repents his repentance. M'Donald's death and regret for his involvement in the schemes against Clarissa parallel Widow Sinclair's death. The idea that everyone who was involved in Clarissa's demise is being punished seems to validate Clarissa's opinion that vengeance is God's territory. Mr. Lovelace's denials of fault are repetitious and parallel James' refusal to accept blame. Mr. Hickman's putting on deep mourning for Clarissa and Miss Howe's confusion over whether to be pleased or angry foreshadows their marriage.

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