Study Guide

Clarissa Narrator Point of View

By Samuel Richardson

Narrator Point of View

Second Person (With Some Complications)

Ever had a penpal? Then you, pal, were writing in the second person point of view. The same is true for most of Clarissa, in which Clarissa basically gets to relate her story to Anna Howe. But hold up! There are some complications to the typical second-person P.O.V. that we need to unpack.

First of all, Clarissa frequently refers to Anna or whoever she's addressing in her letters directly. Our girl isn't afraid to tell it like it is: "You both nettled and alarmed me, my dearest Miss Howe, by the concluding part of your last" (11.1). That's pretty typical for second person style. But what happens when Clarissa switches it up and writes to other characters? Or how about when we get a sneak peek into Lovelace's correspondence with Belford?

That, our Shmoopy friends, is what a polylogic point of view looks like. Sure, we still have one character writing to another character (and referring to that character as "you"). But we're getting multiple perspectives from a bunch of different characters. Using a polylogic point of view lets the reader stay one step ahead of the characters at all times.

How else would we know that Clarissa's new home is actually a brothel besides all the prostitutes?

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