Clarissa

by: Samuel Richardson

Letters 33–78

Summary Letters 33–78

After several more exchanges, the Harlowes decide that Clarissa should go to her Uncle Antony’s house, where Solmes will be able to visit her. Clarissa is terrified by the fact that the house is moated and has a chapel on the premises. She writes to James to ask whether the command came from him or her parents, as she does not feel compelled to obey her brother. They exchange several angry letters. Clarissa wishes that her cousin Morden, who is one of the trustees of her estate, would return from Italy so that he can help her claim her property. After several angry letters and interactions, Clarissa tries to calm herself by playing the harpsichord. She sets a poem, “Ode to Wisdom, by a Lady,” to music and copies the score to send to Anna. After calming down she writes to admonish Anna for treating Hickman disrespectfully.

Anna hears that Solmes has bragged about his ability to terrify a wife into obedience. She does not know how Clarissa can escape her situation but advises her not to go to her uncle’s, where she is likely to be forced into marriage. Mrs. Howe offers, through Anna, her advice about marriage. She says that marriages of convenience and duty are just as happy and usually happier than those founded on liking.

Solmes sends Clarissa a badly spelled letter asking if he can see her to share information about Lovelace. Clarissa refuses. She continues to plead with her family, offering to give up her estate and swearing to remain single for the rest of her life. Mrs. Harlowe refuses to open her letters, and her aunts and uncles tell her to stop writing to them. The exchange of letters between Clarissa and Lovelace continues, and after several refusals she agrees to meet him secretly at night. Clarissa asks if she can put off going to her uncle’s for two weeks, and this is agreed to on the condition that she accept a visit from Solmes. She writes to Lovelace to postpone her meeting with him. Lovelace responds with great indignation, and Clarissa is offended and demands that the correspondence be broken off.

On Anna’s advice, Clarissa sends her all of her letters, as well as some linen, to the Howes, in case she has to leave home suddenly. She cannot send clothes or jewels because that might arouse suspicion. Anna makes inquiries about Lovelace and finds out about the inn and his relations with Rosebud. Clarissa’s answer is clearly jealous, sarcastically referring to Rosebud as “this sweet pretty girl.” She speculates that Lovelace’s cold, gotten while waiting for her letters all night, is really a result of singing under Rosebud’s window. Clarissa says she despises Lovelace.

Anna meets with Rosebud and her father and reports to Clarissa that her suspicions about the young girl’s relationship with Lovelace were unfounded. Clarissa says that she will now respond to Lovelace’s letters. She chides him for his presumptions, insists that she is not denying Solmes for his sake, and criticizes his notorious aversion to marriage.

The Harlowes suddenly start treating Clarissa kindly. She suspects it is part of a plot involving her upcoming visit with Solmes. She hopes Mrs. Howe will take her in if she must leave home. Lovelace writes to express apprehension about the meeting with Solmes and to recommend several plans for escape. Clarissa responds that she would sooner die than marry Solmes, but she tells Lovelace not to take any rash steps.