Study Guide

Clarissa Genre

By Samuel Richardson

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Tragedy, Family Drama

Man, is Clarissa ever a downer. Spoilers to come, so beware scrolling down if you're not totally done reading yet.

Okay, so our girl wants to get in on some true love action (minus the action part—until she's married, anyway). Her crush basically kidnaps her, takes her to a brothel, kidnaps her a second time to take her back to the brothel, and rapes her while she's drugged. And if all that's not enough to really put a damper on the mood, she dies at the end. Like Belford says, "I never had such a weight of grief upon my mind in my life, as upon the demise of this admirable woman…" (481.1).

Remember how much you ugly-cried during The Fault in Our Stars? This is supposed to have roughly the same effect.

Now that we've wiped the snot from our noses, let's take a look at how Clarissa fits into another genre. This is family drama at its best (or rather, at its worst). It's the perfect storm for a family melt-down: a father whose solution is to shut his daughter out, a mother who resorts to bribery to make her point, and two bratty siblings that have some major jealousy issues. Oh, and there's the letter Arabella sends seemingly moments after his sister bites the bullet: "We have just heard that you were exceedingly ill…And you have been very naughty—but we could not be angry always" (484.1). Yeah, the family drama is strong in this one.

Clarissa Genre Study Group

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