Clarissa

by: Samuel Richardson

Anna Howe

Anna is Clarissa’s truest friend, the only person who is consistently on her side through all of her troubles. Before the book begins, Anna and Clarissa had made an agreement to act as each other’s moral guardians, providing reprimands and guidance where necessary, and never taking offense at honest criticism. In this manner, Clarissa had saved Anna from falling into the hands of a rake with whom, without knowing his real character, she had fallen in love. As a result of this episode Anna has a knowledge of love and frailty that Clarissa does not and sees through Clarissa’s denials that she is attracted to Lovelace. Anna is worldlier than Clarissa: in the end, she can be part of a happy marriage and family, whereas Clarissa is only at home in heaven.

Unlike Clarissa, Anna has flaws and sometimes makes mistakes. She is vivacious and finds much humor in the world. Sometimes this characteristic leads to censurable behavior, such as speaking disrespectfully to her mother. It also causes her to tease Hickman cruelly, as she finds him ridiculous even while acknowledging his decency and respectability. Anna worries that she will not be a good wife because she is so attached to her independence and does not find obedience easy. In the end, however, Anna and Hickman’s happy marriage shows that an independent spirit can be directed to good purposes within the domestic sphere.