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Tomlinson arrives at Mrs. Moore’s. He continues to pretend that Clarissa’s family is ready for a reconciliation if she is married to Lovelace and encourages her to forgive him for their sake. Although he plays his part well, Tomlinson is moved to tears by Clarissa’s grief. He asks Lovelace whether he has any thoughts of marrying Clarissa. Lovelace says that he will, if she passes what he calls the final test; that is, she must successfully resist his rape attempt. Clarissa tells him she will wait for advice from Anna before she makes any decision and insists that whatever happens she will not return to Mrs. Sinclair’s. Lovelace resolves to intercept the letter but cannot think how he will be able to do it.
The letter comes while Clarissa is at church. Lovelace convinces Widow Bevis to pretend she is Clarissa so the messenger will deliver it to her. In it Anna expresses surprise that Clarissa would think of marrying Lovelace after the information Anna has sent. She says that Mrs. Townsend, in Anna’s plot to rescue Clarissa, will arrive at Mrs. Moore’s the following Wednesday or Thursday. Once again, Anna’s letter stirs up Lovelace’s desire for revenge.
The marriage license is finally obtained. Lovelace sends a copy to Belford with sarcastic annotations, mocking its formality and pointing out all the loopholes left by its legalistic circumlocutions.
Lovelace tells Clarissa that Lady Betty and Charlotte Montague are coming to visit her, to express their eagerness to welcome her into their family. Clarissa is pleased. Lovelace explains to Belford that these ladies are actually well-trained whores, dressed in borrowed finery. The ladies arrive and succeed in their masquerade. They claim to be so charmed by Clarissa that they will stay at Mrs. Moore’s for a week, but they say they have to go to town first. They trick Clarissa into going with them and Lovelace, and into going to Mrs. Sinclair’s to pack her things while they take care of their errand. Of course, the ladies never return to Mrs. Sinclair’s to take Clarissa back to Mrs. Moore’s. When Clarissa finds herself stranded there she is distraught with fear. She tells Lovelace that she will not stay the night there and begs that he get her a coach so she can go anywhere else. Lovelace makes various delays, and finally Mrs. Sinclair comes in, angry at Clarissa for being so disrespectful to her house. She is so monster-like that Clarissa is terrified, and the process of calming both her and Mrs. Sinclair lasts well into the night so that Clarissa cannot go anywhere.
The next morning Lovelace writes a very short letter: “And now, Belford, I can go no farther. The affair is over. Clarissa lives.”
Belford writes back in extreme distress and calls Lovelace a “savage-hearted monster” and says that he is now convinced that there is an afterlife that will provide justice. Some of it seems to be affecting Lovelace, as he is depressed and regrets his action. He reveals that Clarissa had been drugged and was unconscious when he raped her. This, he says, was Mrs. Sinclair’s suggestion. Clarissa has lost her senses. She writes ten “papers,” fragments that she throws on the floor after finishing with them. They are bits of letters to Anna, Lovelace, her father, and her sister, as well as some laments about her state and metaphorical stories of ruin. The final paper is made up of fragments from different poems, written at crazy angles all over the page. She also writes a longer letter to Lovelace, in which she says that she has “wept out all [her] brain,” and concludes that he and his cohorts have driven her mad. She calls Lovelace Satan and begs him not to set Mrs. Sinclair on her again. Clarissa recognizes her own insanity and instructs Lovelace to take her to a madhouse.
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