Clarissa's old nurse is about the closest thing she's ever gotten to a teacher. Clarissa's sweet nature sure isn't a biological trait, so we're betting that Mrs. Norton had a good deal to do with it. But Mrs. Norton doesn't really have much power in the Harlowe household. It's a dog-eat-dog world out there, and old Nortie has to look out for herself.
It's no wonder that Clarissa turns to Mrs. Norton in the days after her rape. The old lady is unfailingly positive, even when it's clear that a happy ending isn't in the cards: "By patience and persevering sweetness, what a triumph you have gained!" (483.2). Clarissa keeps Mrs. Norton's spirits up by writing regularly, but the old nurse seems a tad out of touch with reality. Still, Mrs. Norton's Pollyanna attitude keeps everyone's spirits high.