Study Guide

Clarissa Letters 1-30

By Samuel Richardson

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Letters 1-30

  • Anna Howe kicks off the action of the book with a juicy letter to her BFF, Clarissa. Turns out that there was aduel (!!!) between Clarissa's bro, James Harlowe, and a saucy fellow named Richard Lovelace.
  • Even though Lovelace crushed it, he let James live. What's the deal, Anna wants to know?
  • Clarissa lets Anna know that James is recovering from his wounds, but he is mad as what. Obviously, there's a story to tell. Clarissa gets Anna up to speed.
  • All this nonsense started when Lovelace came a-courtin' for Clarissa's sister, Arabella. Uh-oh: Lovelace quickly got the hots for the cuter Clarissa. Arabella is toast.
  • The plot thickens when James gets home from Scotland. Turns out that Lovelace is an old college rival.
  • From that time on, Lovelace's name is mud in the Harlowe household. In other words, there is no way he is getting Clarissa. Around this time is when James goes all Aaron Burr on Lovelace and challenges him to a duel.
  • Now that we've got the history, Clarissa admits that she's been trading letters with Lovelace. Nope, not a good idea.
  • Clarissa's maid, Hannah, gets caught passing the notes between the would-be lovahs. Obvi, she gets fired.
  • This is when Roger Solmes enters the picture. He's ugly, old, filthy rich, and he wants to marry Clarissa.
  • Great idea, says Clarissa's family. That way, they can get rid of her and make Lovelace mad to boot.
  • One problem: Clarissa doesn't want old Solmes as a hubby. Who can blame her?
  • It's all good, because Lovelace wants to marry her. Did we mention how rare that is? Lovelace is practically allergic to the altar.
  • He wants to meet Clarissa alone in the garden to—ahem—convince her of his good intentions. Smooth one, buddy.
  • Clarissa is no fool. But she keeps writing to Lovelace, despite being watched like a hawk by her new maid, Betty Barnes.
  • The only thing keeping Clarissa sane is Anna. But Anna has her own problems. Her mom wants to marry off to this nice guy named Mr. Hickman, who Anna actually thinks would be a good match for Clarissa.
  • But really, Anna is rooting for the Clarissa-Lovelace romance. She's sitting back to watch the drama with some popcorn.

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