Study Guide

Clarissa Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis

By Samuel Richardson

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Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis

Anticipation Stage

Clarissa may be practically perfect in every way, but she can't help wanting a cutie to share the ups and downs of life. It's too bad that her chosen dude is Lovelace, a guy who is bad in every sense of the word. Our girl Clarissa doesn't exactly seem unfulfilled, but she knows she has to marry and she wants to have a say in the matter. More than marrying Lovelace, all her energies seem to be dedicated toward preventing a marriage with nasty old Solmes.

Dream Stage

Clarissa gets pretty locked into action when Lovelace tricks her into running away with him. Although things never go swimmingly for Clarissa after this point, she does have a glimmer of hope after Lovelace sends a marriage settlement to his lawyer. Sure, it's not an ideal situation, but she figures it will be all good if she can finagle a marriage after all. And hey, Lovelace is planning to find her a house! What more could a girl want than house and a reformed rake?

Frustration Stage

But, of course, it's a no go. Lovelace ushers in the Frustration Stage when he places her in Mrs. Sinclair's brothel. Even if Clarissa isn't totally aware that she's surrounded by prostitutes, she definitely knows something's up. Although Clarissa manages to run away to Mrs. Moore's, her family has basically refused to help. By the time she ends up back at the brothel, she knows she's pretty much doomed. Plus, Mrs. Sinclair is a threatening force who wants to help put Clarissa in Lovelace's power. It's a dark time for our girl.

Nightmare Stage

Lovelace relates Clarissa's rape in a single-line letter, but it has big-time consequences for her. She goes insane and can't even write her beloved letters to make sense of the situation. Clarissa asks Lovelace to put her in a madhouse, but the prostitutes get her thrown in jail instead. (Considering the state of madhouses at the time, that's probably an upgrade.) Only Belford is willing to help, and he can't do much.

Destruction Stage

Clarissa knows she's dying, even if everyone else is in denial. Lovelace's rape set in motion a whole chain of events that can only end with her peacing out forever, since she's been sullied now and can't live. Obvs. Plus, her death will make Lovelace reform and her whole family realize that they're sorry for being major jerks. Happy ending! JK no, it's still pretty much a tragedy. 

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