Sunday, November 13, 2005

Clarissa Report

I haven't done a Clarissa report in a few weeks now. I have been reading, though ever so slowly it seems. I am up through letter 40 which means page 187 out of 1499, not even a quarter of the way through this thing! Clarissa is still confined to her room. She is allowed to go out in the garden and to tend her chickens once a day when none of the family is around. She has attempted by turns to persuade her mother, father, brother, sister, and both uncles to allow her to live independently on her estate rather marry the hated Mr. Solmes. She insists that her heart is free and that she has not encouraged Mr. Lovelace, not does she wish to. But then she told them all that their insisting she mary Mr. Solmes will force her to consider Mr. Lovelace as a viable alternative. Of course, the family willingly took this declaration to mean that Clarissa would prefer Mr. Lovelace. They have, therefore, redoubled their efforts and their cruelty. They brought in Mrs. Norton, Clarissa's governess and companion, and insisted she force Clarissa to come round to their side. Mrs. Norton is on Clarissa's side though, so even though she dutifully repeated what the family wanted her to, she felt nothing but sympathy for her sweet girl. She even tried to persuade the family to Clarissa's point of view. They would have none of it, and banished her from the household. For Lovelace's part, there have been a couple of his letters making an appearance at last. He is a dastardly gentleman. He is in love with Clarissa but only because she will not have him. This makes him want her more. He does not like women much because the only time he was really, truly in love the lady jilted him. He's been devastated ever since. In order to get back at the fairer sex, he has become a rake, making women fall in love with him and then leaving them. And of course he is such a dashing gent women can't help themselves--except Clarissa. Everything he does is designed to persuade or push Clarissa towards him. I have reached a point in the book where I would like something to happen. All these letters between Clarissa and Miss Howe hashing and rehashing Clarissa's family's obstinacy is getting old. When Lovelace made a surprise appearance while Clarissa was tending her chickens I thought, at last, something will happen. But no. They were not caught. I guess when something finally does happen, it will be that much more exciting.