Study Guide

Clarissa Lust

By Samuel Richardson

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I hope I shall be honest, I once more say: but as we frail mortals are not our masters at times, I must endeavour to keep the dear creature unapprehensive […] (104.7)

Uh-oh. Lovelace is acknowledging early on that he doesn't feel like he's in control of his own desires. Run, Clarissa! (Moral #294 of <em>Clarissa</em>: lock those passions down, hoomans.)

Now, as I am thinking, if I could pull her down a little nearer to my own level; that is to say, could prevail upon her to do something that would argue imperfection, something to repent of; we should jog on much more equally, and be better able to comprehend one another […] (118.11)

Lovelace thinks he detects something like lust in Clarissa. Has he been watching "The Pickup Artist"? Or is there actually something less than perfect in our paragon of virtue?

Thou, Lovelace, hast been long the <em>entertainer; </em>I the <em>entertained </em>(143.1)

Ew. Belford is definitely living vicariously through Lovelace's seduction attempts, so we know that he's not entirely the virtuous guy he wants us to think he is. At least the guy is feeling guilty about it.

But it is a strange perverseness in human nature that we covet at a distance what when near we slight. (150.5)

Who says Anna and Clarissa don't understand lust? Here, Anna alludes to the fact that Clarissa might find Lovelace so attractive because she can't have it. If her family were shoving him in her face, he might lose some of that sexy sheen. 

But having succeeded thus far, he cannot, <em>he says, </em>forbear trying, according to the resolution he had before made, whether he cannot go farther (157.1)

Occasionally, the letters in <em>Clarissa </em>get glossed over by an anonymous narrator who wants to keep the plot moving. (Like maybe he could have glossed over some of the other 1500 pages?) In this case, it seems like the most dastardly things Lovelace says aren't his direct speech. What do you think is going on?

And clasping her closer to me, I gave her a more fervent kiss than ever I had dared to give her before; but still let not my ardour overcome my discretion […]

Lovelace is having a hard time keeping it under control, but he seems to kind of like the challenge. Hm, do you think maybe he likes the game more than the player?

I hope there is not a man breathing who could attempt a sacrilege so detestable (180.1)

Mrs. Norton isn't afraid to call a spade a spade. That is, she thinks lust (and sex) basically amount to sacrilege. Whoa, Nelly!

These shy ladies, how, when a man thinks himself near the mark, do they tempest him! (224.6)

Lovelace is an expert seducer, so he's all about finding novelty. Clarissa, more demure and shy than most of the women Lovelace has seduced, is his biggest challenge yet. Lust, or power? Or just a lust for power?

It was with the utmost difficulty last night, that I preserved myself from the vilest dishonor. (230.1)

Clarissa's description of Lovelace's seduction attempt is pretty straightforward, but it's a common plot device in Richardson's novels. The "bed trick," in which the beau hides out in his would-be lover's bed, also gets used in <em>Pamela</em>. Pro tip: beware of climbing into occupied beds? We guess?

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