Study Guide

Clarissa What's Up With the Ending?

By Samuel Richardson

What's Up With the Ending?

Clarissa's out of the picture by the end, leaving us to wonder what happened to all of her homies. Okay, and leaving us to wonder about what happened to the people who wronged her. (You know we love a good revenge story.)

Since Clarissa's not around to explain it all (womp womp), Belford supposedly steps in to give us the final update on the whole crew. We say "supposedly" because the letter says it first: it's "supposed" to be written by Belford, but no one's totally sure (Conclusion.1). (Here's a creepy thought: if it's not Belford, who took over all of Clarissa's letters? Cue the Twilight Zone theme song.)

Belford or not, we get a straightforward rundown of the remaining characters. The highlights include Arabella driving her husband to infidelity through her "impatient spirit and groundless passions" (Conclusion.10). No one saw that coming, right? The last characters we hear about are Colonel Morden and Belford himself, both of whom came to Clarissa's defense at the very end. Obviously, both are happy as clams.

Weirdly, the last paragraph of the book is an update on the Widow Lovick. Remember her? We wouldn't blame you if you didn't, because she only pops up in boarding-house scenes. Clarissa likes her enough to leave her a ring in her will, but we don't get too much character detail. Anyway, her "prudent behaviour, piety, and usefulness, has endeared herself" to the Belfords (Conclusion.31).

So the one (surviving) example we get of a virtuous woman is a widow, not a married woman or a maiden. What's up with that? If we had to guess, we'd say it's a shout-out to an alternative path to independence. Clarissa never got to have her own household and family, but the Widow seems to have it all and a bag of chips. What do you think, Shmoopers? Should she have just married old Solmes and waited for him to die first?Ā 

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