Study Guide

Clarissa Plot Analysis

By Samuel Richardson

Plot Analysis

Exposition (Initial Situation)

Clarissa the Great

Miss Clarissa and the rest of the Harlowe family live in jolly old England. Clarissa's practically perfect in every way, but her bratty siblings have some major jealousy issues. She's clearly her rich grandpa's favorite, which means she's due for a payday any day now.

Rising Action (Conflict, Complication)

No Clarity for Clarissa

Clarissa's bro has a bone to pick with Clarissa's beau, Robert Lovelace. Basically, that means they get all duel-happy and James Harlowe barely escapes with his life. Clarissa has to decide whether she should go with bad-boy Lovelace or nasty old Solmes, her family's hubby pick. When she chooses Lovelace, the dice are rolling … toward a pretty bad conclusion.

Climax (Crisis, Turning Point)

Lovelace Shows His True Colors

After a reallllly long period of rising action, Lovelace employs the help of Mrs. Sinclair to drug and rape Clarissa, making this climax literal. Sorrynotsorry.              

Falling Action

Stairway to Heaven

It's all downhill from here. Belford starts looking out for Clarissa after she makes a break from the dastardly Lovelace, but she's already pretty sick. While our gal is preparing to take a permanent trip upstairs, everyone starts realizing how much she's been wronged. Now all we need to know is how Clarissa's long, strange trip is going to end.

Resolution (Denoument)

We All Saw This Coming

It's a bummer, but Clarissa was too gosh-darn perfect to stay on this earth. (Plus, now that she's been raped, she can't exactly marry and pass herself off as a regular old virtuous woman.) Everyone's sad, Lovelace feels bad, and Clarissa's family decides to forgive her. Oh yeah, we're sure she appreciates that…in heaven. You dirtbags.   

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