Richard’s simplicity and steadfastness have enabled him to build a stable life for Clarissa, but these same qualities represent the compromise that marrying him required. Richard is a simple, hardworking, sensible husband who loves Clarissa and their daughter, Elizabeth. However, he will never share Clarissa’s desire to truly and fully communicate, and he cannot appreciate the beauty of life in the same way she can. At one point, Richard tries to overcome his habitual stiffness and shyness by planning to tell Clarissa that he loves her, but he is ultimately too repressed to say the words, in part because it has been so long since he last said them. Just as he does not understand Clarissa’s desires, he does not recognize Elizabeth’s potential as a woman. If he had had a son, he would have encouraged him to work, but he does not offer the same encouragement to Elizabeth, even as she contemplates job options. His reticence on the matter increases the likelihood that she will eventually be in the same predicament as Clarissa, unable to support herself through a career and thus unable to gain the freedom to follow her passions.

Richard considers tradition of prime importance, rather than passion or open communication. He champions the traditions England went to war to preserve, in contrast to Septimus, and does not recognize their destructive power. Despite his occasional misgivings, Richard has close associations with members of English high society. He is critical of Hugh, but they revere many of the same symbols, including the figure of the grand old lady with money, who is helpless when it comes to surviving in a patriarchal society. Richard likes the fact that women need him, but sometimes he wrongly assumes they do. For example, he does not recognize that a female vagrant may not want his help but may instead enjoy living outside the rules of his society. For Richard, this sort of freedom is unimaginable.