Clarissa

by: Samuel Richardson

Letters 274–332

Clarissa and Anna both suggest the legal system as a possible avenue for justice. Clarissa threatens Lovelace with it before his second rape attempt, and although it has no effect on Lovelace, it does scare the whores. Their livelihood depends on insulation from the legal system, so Clarissa could easily bring down their establishment. Anna recommends prosecution as a way to keep Lovelace from hurting any other women—including Anna, who knows Lovelace has reason to take revenge on her. Clarissa will not do it, however, as her delicacy recoils at the public nature of the trial, just as it did when Anna suggested that Clarissa make a legal claim for her estate. Furthermore, Clarissa recognizes how well Lovelace has protected himself. Every appearance is against Clarissa, and the only witnesses to the reality of the situation are on his side. Lovelace shows no fear of the law, but he is clearly aware of it enough to protect himself by manipulating the evidence of his crime.