Clarissa’s irrevocable resolution against marriage (L276)

It is easy for me, Mr. Lovelace, to see that further violences are intended me, if I comply not with your purposes, whatever they are, I will suppose them to be what you solemnly profess they are. But I have told you as solemnly my mind, that I never will, that I never can be yours; nor, if so, any man’s upon earth. All vengeance, nevertheless, for the wrongs you have done me, I disclaim. I want but to slide into some obscure corner, to hide myself from you and from every one who once loved me. The desire lately so near my heart, of a reconciliation with my friends, is much abated. They shall not receive me now, if they would. Sunk in mine own eyes, I now think myself unworthy of their favour. In the anguish of my soul, therefore, I conjure you, Lovelace, [tears in her eyes,] to leave me to my fate. In doing so, you will give me a pleasure the highest I now can know.
Where, my dearest life——

No matter where. I will leave to Providence, when I am out of this house, the direction of my future steps. I am sensible enough of my destitute condition. I know that I have not now a friend in the world. Even Miss Howe has given me up—or you are—But I would fain keep my temper!—By your means I have lost them all—and you have been a barbarous enemy to me. You know you have.

6 thoughts on “Clarissa’s irrevocable resolution against marriage (L276)

  1. Kendra

    I see Clarissa becoming more powerful. She eventually thwarts other attempts that Lovelace makes upon her and she has finally become aware of the women in the house. Clarissa is broken, but Lovelace hasn't taken her dignity. I think Clarissa is a bit more aware of herself and while she may not be who she was before Lovelace raped her, she is still the same virtuous and dignified Clarissa she has always shown herself to be. In fact, she may be showing it even more than before.

  2. anthony o'keeffe

    Surely true–“more powerful” in ways both old and new. “Broken” seems a fine word here–especially because not in the way Lovelace wished or Sinclair and the whores intended.

  3. Debra

    I think her sense of herself as a moral agent is continuous with her past. But I think the flip side of this is that she knows she has changed: she understands herself to be dishonored and she will not ask others (her family or Lovelace's to pretend otherwise).

  4. Meghan Hancock

    “…and you have been a barbarous enemy to me. You know you have.” I agree, Kendra. Clarissa's tone is so different here than we've seen it before, and she seems much more powerful even after admitting she's lost all hope of reconciliation with those who love her. These last few statements I quoted are, I think, exemplary of that. Clarissa is almost scolding Lovelace here, addressing him like she would a petulant child. “You know what you did, Lovelace, and don't try to talk your way out of this one.” Clarissa renders Lovelace speechless after this (though he does–a paragraph later–return to his relentless begging for her hand in marriage).

  5. Megan

    One thing I like about this scene is that we see how Clarissa's views on marriage have never changed throughout the novel. She started out not wanting to marry Solmes because she did not love him and he was not the kind of man she wanted to spend her life with, and even now, after such horrific events, she is not willing to marry Lovelace just to cover up what has happened to her (which, ughhhh, she shouldn't have to worry about, but that's a frustration for another time). Throughout her time with Lovelace, she could have tried to marry him at any turn. That is clearly Anna's advice. It would be the easiest way out of a bad situation, but she never gives in, even after the situation worsens.

    I liked how Rachel put it in her comment on letter 266: “Lovelace sees marriage as man's law to resist, and Clarissa sees marriage as God's law to revere”

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