Clarissa is an epistolary novel composed of 537 letters dated from January 10th through to December 18th. The plan is to read the letters around their corresponding dates.
Two months gone and we still have only read 11 letters which means sometime soon we're going to be swamped in a deluge of correspondence. February's letters didn't begin until the 20th - it was a long wait!
Clarissa spent three weeks with Anna before being very suddenly collected and brought home because her family had learned that Lovelace had been calling on the Howes. She writes to Anne of the cold, accusing reception she received on her return and worst of all "They have found another lover for me; an hideous one! -- Yet he is encouraged by every body."
Mr Harlowe is adamant that he 'will be obeyed' and is deaf to Clarissa's pleas to be heard.
That women had no voice in matters like this is clearly revealed in Clarissa's letters. Her mother and aunt are too intimidated to even open their mouths and although Clarissa is still young enough to try no one listens. The whole nasty situation has been orchestrated by James who definitely has a voice and it is Mr Harlowe's behaviour that I find most appalling in allowing himself to be so influenced by his son.
Clarissa is forbidden to go out, have visitors or even correspond until she agrees to marry Mr Solmes but in her last letter lays out a plan to Anna as to how they can secretly write to each other.
The final letter is Anna's reply and I do like the way Samuel Richardson is able to convey a very different personality in the tone of the writing. Anne sounds a lighter and brighter girl - her thoughts often way ahead of her pen as she dashes from one thing to another. I sense she is loving the drama of being part of a romantic intrigue which is only natural if everyday life is rather dull. She's also perceptive enough to see that Clarissa's feelings for Lovelace go deeper than she realises ....and warns her...
"But, O my friend, depend upon it, you are in danger. Depend upon it, whether you know it or not, you are a little in for't. Your native generosity and greatness of mind endanger you: all your friends, by fighting against him with impolitic violence, fight for him, And Lovelace.... (has seen)....it doing for him more effectively than he could do it for himself."Looking forward to March and hopefully there will be more letters to read next month.