by: Samuel Richardson

Suggested Essay Topics

Clarissa pits an exemplary woman against a vicious libertine. How did Clarissa get to be so exemplary? How did Lovelace get to be such a rake? Who educated them, and how?

Clarissa bills itself as a lesson for parents and children. How are parenting and family life portrayed in the text? What kind of familial philosophy does it promote, and what kind does it criticize?

Clarissa’s most defining characteristic is unimpeachable virtue. What does virtue mean in her case? Is it the same as morality, or ethics? Are there different standards of virtue for different characters?

How are gender divisions marked in Clarissa? Is Clarissa an example for all human beings, or just women?

Is Clarissa Harlowe a tragic hero? Why or why not?