Study Guide

Clarissa Manipulation

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It's tempting to call out Lovelace for being the master manipulator in this here story. He goes to extreme lengths to keep Clarissa under lock and key, while tricking all his cronies into helping him do it. Plus, he's got that winning smile!

Thing is, just about everybody has a piece of the manipulation pie (with the possible exception of Clarissa, of course). The Harlowes are all about coaxing and badgering Clarissa into marrying Solmes, even though that's clearly not what she wants. Mrs. Sinclair and her merry band of prostitutes definitely want to manipulate Clarissa into sinking to their level. In Clarissa, it's all about keeping your head in the game—and trying to figure out what's going on in everybody's head.

Questions About Manipulation

  1. What are Lovelace's most effective manipulation techniques? Does he try to manipulate Clarissa differently than he manipulates everyone else?
  2. Clarissa's not always savvy, but she shows her hand every once in a while—and it's usually a flush. How does Ms. Pokerface make other people do what she wants?
  3. Does Lovelace succeed at manipulating Clarissa to his will, or does he ultimately fall short?
  4. Does Lovelace ever manipulate Belford, or is Belford immune to his charms?

Chew on This

Over the course of the book, Clarissa learns how to manipulate and how to avoid being manipulated.

Mrs. Sinclair manipulates Clarissa and everyone else around her just for the sheer joy of watching destruction. Some women just want to watch the world burn. 

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