Lovelace is ashamed (L199)

[As the Lady could not know what Mr. Lovelace's designs were, nor the
   cause of his ill humour, it will not be improper to pursue the subject
   from his letter.

Having described his angry manner of demanding, in person, her company at
   supper, he proceeds as follows:]


‘She struggled to disengage herself.—Pray, Mr. Lovelace, let me withdraw. I know not why this is. I know not what I have done to offend you. I see you are come with a design to quarrel with me. If you would not terrify me by the ill humour you are in, permit me to withdraw. I will hear all you have to say another time—to-morrow morning, as I sent you word.—But indeed you frighten me—I beseech you, if you have any value for me, permit me to withdraw.
Night, mid-night, is necessary, Belford. Surprise, terror, must be necessary to the ultimate trial of this charming creature, say the women below what they will. I could not hold my purposes. This was not the first time that I had intended to try if she could forgive.
‘I kissed her hand with a fervour, as if I would have left my lips upon it.—Withdraw, then, dearest, and ever-dear creature. Indeed I entered in a very ill humour. I cannot bear the distance at which you so causelessly keep me. Withdraw, Madam, since it is your will to withdraw; and judge me generously; judge me but as I deserve to be judged; and let me hope to meet you to-morrow morning early in such a temper as becomes our present situation, and my future hopes.
‘And so saying, I conducted her to the door, and left her there. But, instead of going down to the women, I went into my own chamber, and locked myself in; ashamed of being awed by her majestic loveliness, and apprehensive virtue, into so great a change of purpose, notwithstanding I had such just provocations from the letters of her saucy friend, formed on her own representations of facts and situations between herself and me.

5 thoughts on “Lovelace is ashamed (L199)

  1. Keri Mathis

    This excerpt contains an interesting editorial remark that I have included at the beginning, noting that Lovelace's superior knowledge in this particular situation warrants an interruption of Clarissa's letter to Anna. Again, as I briefly mentioned in my comment on Letter 198, we see Clarissa's writing and voice become less and less prominent in this volume. Furthermore, this letter specifically parallels Clarissa's Letter 200 (**please also see Clarissa's account of the event mentioned here**), inviting an examination of the ways in which these two characters document the same event in different ways.Please feel free to compare/contrast the two letters in order to shed light on Clarissa's loss of agency/identity, Lovelace's identity and the power he receives from his nascent knowledge of Clarissa and Anna's schemes, or any other pertinent topics to agency and identity that you see here.

  2. Debra

    What I find interesting is that she has actually embarrased him. Even though he is provoked by her "saucy friend," he locks himself in his room in shame. How does one take the measure of such a man? Is our difficulty following our way through the back-and-forth feelings of Lovelace meant to make him more likeable as a character? more interesting? Are we ever meant to feel sympathy, such as in the last paragraph?

  3. Rachel Gramer

    I think it is fascinating how Richardson shapes his character with negatives and positives, both what Lovelace feels and doesn't feel. Here, he seems to cast him in terms of the shame he feels:"ashamed of being awed by her majestic loveliness, and apprehensive virtue, into so great a change of purpose"Yet, of course, the shame he feels is for something he did/didn't do: he changed his intent, which means he didn't enact his revenge.What seems most striking to me is this "lowering" of the "lows" to which the true rake will descend in pursuit of his conquest: not only will Lovelace fuel his own need for vengeance and orchestrate immoral atrocities to come (feeling good about feeling/doing bad), but also he will cast shame on any hesitation on his part to second-guess his own scheme (feeling bad about feeling/doing good).So while at first read, I saw this as Richardson painting him in a "better" light, on second read, I see the uglier, more wretched rake shining through.

  4. Steve

    It's interesting to think about Lovelace's feelings here, especially in light of the identity "rake" he's working so hard at performing. I think he understands it to be un-rakelike to have feelings of shame or guilt, and so here, what he's feeling shame about is less about Clarissa and more about having those feelings at all, if that makes sense.

  5. Keri Mathis

    I think you all point to what Richardson was likely trying to do here which is to make us see Lovelace's shame and embarrassment more in terms of his inability to enact the revenge he wanted than feelings of remorse for his actions against Clarissa. To adopt Rachel's phrase, I think that we can all agree that we see Lovelace's “uglier, more wretched rake shining through” in this scene. Yes, this view perhaps makes it tempting to feel sympathy for Lovelace, but ultimately he will come through as the “rakiest rake” who is certainly undeserving of these sympathies.

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