Study Guide

Clarissa Pride

By Samuel Richardson

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My mama, and all of us, like the rest of the world, talk of nobody but you on this occasion, and of the consequences which may follow from the resentments of a man of Mr. Lovelace's spirit; who, as he gives out, has been treated with high indignity by your uncles (1.9)

We have to give it to Anna: she's dead on with this one. But she also just <em>might </em>be pumping up Clarissa's pride with all her talk about "the rest of the world" gossiping about Clarissa.

He, with an imperious air, bid me deserve his love, and I should be sure to have it. (8.28)

Looks like love isn't unconditional in the Harlowe family. Nope, Clarissa has to cater to her prideful bro's every whim before she gets his support.

It was always my pride and my pleasure to obey you (16.46)

Although this is totally an eighteenth-century expression, it does seem like Clarissa's proud of her obedience. What do you think, Shmoopers? Should Clarissa have been a little bit less proud about her virtue?

And so a noted whoremonger is to be chosen before a man who is a money-lover! (32.41)

Ouch! Uncle Antony tells it like it is. But we also get a glimpse into Harlowe family politics: greed beats out a scandalous reputation any day.

I was going to speak with vehemence, but she put her handkerchief before my mouth, very rudely […] (53.36)

This is what we'd call a big-time clash of wills, and we don't know whose is stronger: Clarissa's or her sister's. If you can't beat them, at least you can put your handkerchief over their mouth …

They knew that if once you were restored to favour, love suspended would be love augmented, and that you must defeat and expose them, and triumph by your amiable qualities and great talents over all their arts (100.38)

True or false, Shmoopers: is Anna correct about Clarissa's siblings' motives, or do they have just a hint of goodwill toward their sis? Could they be looking out for her in their own way?

But the gentlemen, as they must be called in right of their ancestors, it seems; for no other do they appear to have (161.6)

Clarissa can throw out some zingers when she wants to. Looks like her judgment isn't clouded by ancestry or wealth: Lovelace might be a gentleman by name, but he shouldn't take too much pride in that title. 

We common folks have our joys, and please your honour, says honest Joseph Leman, like as our betters have (241.11)

We don't often get to see the lower-class characters talking about pride in <em>Clarissa</em>—they usually do exactly what they're told. Here, Joseph seems to be telling Lovelace that they're really not all that different. Here, Joseph is insisting that he's just as much a person as Lovelace is. Crazy!

But does she really believe she shall not long trouble us?—But oh, my Norton!—she must, she will long trouble us—for can she think her death, if we should be deprived of her, will put an end to our afflictions? […] (376.15)

File this under "things Clarissa's mom will wish she hadn't said." It just goes to show how prideful Mrs. Harlowe is to refuse to see her dying daughter.

I need not tell you, it seems, how desirous all the family are of the honour of an alliance with you; nor how exceedingly earnest the former is to make you all the reparation in his power (447.3)

Colonel Morden is trying to salvage the Harlowe family pride by quickly marrying Clarissa to Lovelace, but he doesn't count on Clarissa's prideful refusal. Basically, she'd rather eat rocks than marry Lovelace. She has her own definition of pride, and it doesn't involve marrying her rapist. 

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