Study Guide

Clarissa Guilt and Blame

By Samuel Richardson

Guilt and Blame

In Clarissa, there's only one game to play at family home evening, and it's not Monopoly. It's the blame game. At the beginning, it's all about pinning the blame on Clarissa (kind of like Pin the Tail on the Donkey, only a little more sinister). Everyone blames her for not cooperating, but no one seems to have her best interests at heart. By the end, the goal shifts to expose every single one of those phonies. It may seem pretty simple to point a finger toward Lovelace, but nearly everyone seems to have a hand in sending Clarissa to the grave. The problem? Well, it doesn't exactly bring her back. 

Questions About Guilt and Blame

  1. Let's start with the nitty-gritty: who is most responsible for Clarissa's death? Is her family just as much to blame as Lovelace, or is that way harsh?
  2. Taking it in the opposite direction, who feels the most guilt for Clarissa's ultimate fate?
  3. Does Lovelace feel guilt for the other women he seduced, or is his guilt just reserved for Clarissa? Heck, does he even feel guilt about what happened to her?
  4. Does Clarissa ultimately blame herself?

Chew on This

Belford helps Clarissa because of his own unresolved guilt about being a player in his youth.

Clarissa consciously tries to avoid placing blame on others, although she probably has the most right to do so.