Before any of this stuff with Clarissa went down, Lovelace
and Belford were gossiping about their buddy Belton's downfall. See, the guy
whole-heartedly embraced the rake lifestyle and lived it up for a long time. Then
he got sick and his mistress turned on him, leaving him broke and miserable. Now,
we're not saying it's related to his philandering ways, but come on—it
So how do we know that Belton's story is an allegory for
Lovelace's lifestyle? Well, Belford keeps not-so-subtly hinting at the
parallels between the two buddies. Lovelace doesn't really seem to get it,
though. Not until Belford spells it out for him in all caps: "THOU MUST
DIE, AS WELL AS BELTON" (419.7). Message received loud and clear!
So why would Richardson stick in an allegory that basically
rehashes the plot? Well, the guy was a moralist. Since the major critique of
his other best-seller, Pamela,
was that the moral wasn't clear enough, Richardson gave the
audience what they wanted.