Anna Howe in Clarissa
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Give Me a B! Give me an F! Give me an F! BFF!
We don't take the acronym BFF lightly here at Shmoop, and neither does Clarissa's pal Anna Howe. She's practically on call for the entire book, making sure her friend gets nothing but the best. Anna may not succeed in protecting her buddy, but it's certainly not for lack of trying. Despite her mother's best efforts to prevent the two from corresponding, Clarissa and Anna remain practically joined at the hip. And let's be clear: their whole friendship pretty much takes place in letters. If nothing else, Anna deserves credit for all of those hand cramps. No FaceTime here!
Loyal to the End
Even on her deathbed, Clarissa takes a timeout to thank her tirelessly loyal friend: "God for ever bless you, and all you love and honour, and reward you here and hereafter for your kindness to…Clarissa Harlowe!" (459.27). It's enough to make us feel a little weepy. And let's be clear: Anna maintains her friendship to Clarissa at the cost of her own reputation. There's a reason her mommy wants her to steer clear of the whole Lovelace-Clarissa sitch. Attaching her name to a ruined woman like Clarissa could lead to some major inconveniences.
When it comes down to it, Anna escapes Clarissa's fate by luck. Lovelace muses at one point that he just as easily could make her his victim, if he hadn't fixated on Clarissa first. And we've already established that Clarissa is the most virtuous lady, like, ever.
But just like any teenaged gal—and just like Clarissa—Anna is obsessed with finding her own true love. That lets us know that Anna's main function in the story (besides being the person Clarissa writes letters to) is to provide a contrast. She may not be quite as perfect as Clarissa, but not-quite-perfect is still pretty good.
The difference? Anna attracts the attention of Mr. Hickman, the stereotypical good guy. He may not be as flashy as Lovelace, but he's about as steady as they come. Clarissa tells it like it is:
Yet one comfort it is in your power to give me; and that is, let me know, and very speedily it must be if you wish to oblige me, that all matters are made up between you and Mr. Hickman; to whom, I see, you are resolved with all of your bravery of spirit to owe a multitude of obligations for his patience with your flightiness. (459.24)
Clarissa wants Anna to have her happy ending, but she also wants her to know how lucky she is to have it. And that's what Anna seems to teach us: that luck in attracting the right man is all that separates ruin from happiness.
Anna Howe in Clarissa Study Group
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