Clarissa to Anna, “quite sick of life” (L317)

I thank you, my dear, for the draughts of your two letters which were intercepted by this horrid man. I see the great advantage they were of to him, in the prosecution of his villanous designs against the poor wretch whom he had so long made the sport of his abhorred inventions.
Let me repeat, that I am quite sick of life; and of an earth, in which innocent and benevolent spirits are sure to be considered as aliens, and to be made sufferers by the genuine sons and daughters of that earth.
How unhappy, that those letters only which could have acquainted me with his horrid views, and armed me against them, and against the vileness of the base women, should fall into his hands!—Unhappier still, in that my very escape to Hampstead gave him the opportunity of receiving them.
Nevertheless, I cannot but still wonder, how it was possible for that Tomlinson to know what passed between Mr. Hickman and my uncle Harlowe:* a circumstance which gave the vile impostor most of his credit with me.
How the wicked wretch himself could find me out at Hampstead, must also remain wholly a mystery to me. He may glory in his contrivances—he, who has more wickedness than wit, may glory in his contrivances!—
But, after all, I shall, I humbly presume to hope, be happy, when he, poor wretch, will be—alas!—who can say what!——
Adieu, my dearest friend!—May you be happy!—And then your Clarissa cannot be wholly miserable!

6 thoughts on “Clarissa to Anna, “quite sick of life” (L317)

  1. Debra

    She is very careful in working out exactly what everyone did. Letters to Lady Betty, Mrs. Moore, etc. I think it's more than curiosity. But I'm not entirely sure what the something “more” is. By getting all this written testimony, she documents her case that she was tricked by the vilest of men. These letters and papers leave no doubt for anyone who will read her papers. Maybe that is the reason?

  2. Kendra

    I agree. Could this written testimony also provide a detailed account that not even Lovelace can change or discount? She really paints Lovelace as the villain he is.

  3. Rachel Gramer

    Tony, I appreciate your choice of diction. I think “resignation” and “curiosity” describe her well here. She is so resigned and hopeless for her own present situation, and yet beyond curious about constructing a fuller version of her past than what she currently has.

    Clarissa seems to want to know the “truth,” which she would because she believes there is a singular truth to “know.” And it is important, isn't it? What happened to her–not just in the act of the rape, which comes back to her in such a haze, but also the entire labyrinth of contrivances that she now sees for the deceits they were?

    Debra suggests that Clarissa wants to document her mistreatment, and Kendra added the notion of testimony. Clarissa seems to be, after all that's happened, constructing her own case against Lovelace–something that can be written, recorded, read, witnessed to long after she has died. (And something she does not wish to attest to in a public court–but can be revealed in the privacy of personal letters, after her death.)

    If all along as we've often posited, Clarissa's narrative agency has been the act of writing, we see her in this volume writing to everyone she hopes might be an ally still (she even writes back to Anna's mother, after her scathing letter!). And in return, once her alliances have been re-established, she asks for details from them and gives details back in return. The letters will read as a transcript of events that she was unable to see or record as they unfolded–but they will not be there, in writing, for anyone to see. (and of course, unknown to her, Lovelace and Belford's letter might join the fray?)

  4. anthony o'keeffe

    So many helpful ideas here, and all see valid in this endlessly-faceted novel: text as witness, text as the means of unraveling deception so that one can piece together the coherent story one has been deceived out of, text as reconstructing relationships with others and within one's soul, text as indictment, text as a necessary healing of self, etc., etc. I'm beginning to like this novel . . .

  5. Steve

    I also think there's a move here to allow for “resignation.” In order to resign herself to the story of what's happened to her, she has to have it – all of it. I think that Clarissa's more than curious, I think she needs the whole story in order to circumscribe it as a part of her story, but not really a part of her “self.” In another, earlier post on Clarissa's “self” (Letter 290, I think) there was some discussion about how Clarissa doesn't feel she's lost herself, because she hasn't lost her will. She didn't “give in” to Lovelace, she was drugged. I think we're seeing an extension of that idea here. Not only will all this written proof justify her to anyone who cares to read it, it will also justify her to herself. What's more, once she has the whole story it doesn't have that same nagging sense of mystery. Once she knows what “really” happened, she's free to bracket it, in a way, and to walk away from it and “humbly presume to hope.”

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