I knew that the whole stupid family were in a combination to
do my business for me (97.4)
Lovelace is a master
manipulator. It's clear he's messing with Clarissa's mind, but do you think he's
trying to hoodwink the rest of the Harlowe fam? Consider this: ruining Clarissa
casts a shadow on the whole family, and he does
have beef with her bro …
How different, how inexpressibly different, the gay wretch;
visibly triumphing (as I could not but construe his almost rapturous joy) in
the success of his arts! (98.4)
This may be the first
time Clarissa gets wise to Lovelace's evil plan. Even so, she keeps trusting
the guy for a while. Either she's <em>really</em>
naïve, or he's <em>really</em>
good at manipulating her.
But when it came to my turn, I pleaded, I argued, I answered
her, as well as I could—And when humility would not do, I raised my voice and
suffered my eye to sparkle with anger […] (103.5)
A lot of what
Lovelace does is straight-up manipulation, but he's also got a violent streak.
Even scarier: he's analyzing his own creepy behavior. That's the mark of a true
Every possible objection anticipated! Every accident
provided against!—Every tittle of it plot-proof! (131.2)
Lovelace seems to
devote every waking hour to seducing Clarissa. Dude <em>really</em> needs to get a hobby that doesn't
involve seducing girls. Cool thing: notice that he says his plan is "plot-proof."
Guess who else comes up with plots? That's right: writers. Maybe Richardson is
the manipulator we should really be worried about.
Your beloved's honour is inviolate!—<em>Must </em>be inviolate! And <em>will </em>be so, in spite of men and devils (181.1)
Anna reassures Mrs.
Norton that Clarissa is basically immune to manipulation. If we take her word
for it, then we have to think Clarissa heads to her fate with open eyes—because
she thinks it's her best option. Pretty sad.
'Tis my pride to subdue girls who know too much to doubt
their knowledge; and to convince them that they know too little to defend
themselves from the inconveniencies of knowing too much (199.13)
Okay, so Lovelace
sometimes speaks in riddles. It's not just about tricking Clarissa—he also
considers Anna to be fair game. And notice here that he doesn't want to seduce
Anna; he just wants to take her down a peg or two.
So near to execution my plot! So near springing my mine!
It's hard to reconcile
Lovelace's gloating with Clarissa's assessment that he's not that bad. Although
he seems to occasionally treat Clarissa respectfully, he never really wavers
from his evil goals. (Cue maniacal laughter.)
He extorted from me a promise of forgiveness […] but if it
were possible to escape from a wretch who, as I have too much reason to
believe, formed a plot to fire the house, to frighten me almost naked into his
arms, how could I see him next day? (230.1)
It's ironic that the
one time Lovelace doesn't plot
something, it gets pinned on him. We never find out who started that fire, but
Dorcas seems to be a prime suspect.
But recollecting myself, am I again, thought I, in a way to be overcome and
made a fool of!—If I now recede, I am gone for ever. (256.37)
Let's not even touch
how bizarre it is that Lovelace sees himself as some sort of victim. Could his
entire motivation be to avoid being manipulated by a woman he loves? Or
maybe—here's a radical thought—this is the big ol' problem with eighteenth-century
marriage: when you make it into a business deal, then both parties are
constantly trying to get the better bargain.
I am grown choleric and impatient, and will not be
After Clarissa dies,
Lovelace's issues get even worse. Positive outcome: at least it'll be harder to
seduce other innocent girls.