Study Guide

Clarissa Freedom and Confinement

By Samuel Richardson

Freedom and Confinement

Obstinate, perverse, undutiful Clarissa Harlowe! With a rejecting hand and angry aspect; then take your own way, and go up!—But stir not down again, I charge you, without leave, or till your papa's pleasure be known concerning you (22.38)

Like a little kid, Clarissa is sent to her room when she misbehaves. Notice how her mom can't release her—only her dad has that power.

It is hoped that as you must go, you will go cheerfully (50.6)

Well, when you put it <em>that </em>way. Clarissa doesn't have much of a choice. <em>And </em>she's just supposed to grin and bear it. She isn't even free to express her feelings. 

To be carried away this Thursday—to the moated house—to the chapel—to Solmes! (62.3)

Although Clarissa never does get carried away to the moated house, it's a pretty good metaphor for how she's feeling: totally stranded.

But I hurried up to my prison, in my return from my garden walk, to avoid him (86.15)

If there was ever any doubt that Clarissa considers her house a prison—voila. But she'd rather be in prison than hang out with Solmes—that's an even worse form of confinement.

Then they are less watchful, I believe, over my garden walks, and my poultry visits […] (86.18)

Nature provides Clarissa with her only refuge from her house arrest. That, and chickens. (Brain Snack: in the eighteenth century, and for rural women throughout the nineteenth century, "egg money," or the money that women earned from selling eggs, was often the only money that they got to keep for themselves. Relevant? We think so.)

At last your beloved young lady has consented to free herself from the cruel treatment she has so long borne (96.1)

This is no ordinary jail-break. Nope, it's out of the frying pan and into the fire. Do you think that, in the end, Clarissa is glad she left with Lovelace, or would she have made a different choice if she were able to do it all over again?

Oh no! she is in the next apartment!—securely mine!—mine for ever! (97.3)

Sure sounds like Lovelace is planning to keep Clarissa for a while. But if she's not his wife, does he plan to make her his permanent mistress? We doubt it. Clarissa may be confined, but it doesn't seem like Lovelace puts any limits on his behavior. 

Oh, for a curse to kill with!—Ruined!—Undone! Outwitted, tricked!—Zounds, man, the lady is gone off!—Absolutely gone off! Escaped! (228.1)

Think Lovelace is upset? He can't seem to wrap his mind around the fact that Clarissa, his prisoner, has the resources and confidence to escape by herself. 

I have escaped, Heaven be praised, I have! (230.2)

Clarissa is pretty overjoyed to be free of Lovelace. Although her freedom is temporary, we can't begrudge her a little freedom dance.

Those who arrested and confined me, no doubt thought they had fallen upon the ready method to distress me so as to bring me into all their measures (349.9)

No mere house could confine Clarissa. Even her coffin-house can't confine her, since she's heading straight up to heaven to chill with all the other angels. 

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