Shmoopers, let's talk about how Clarissa's principles spread
like wildfire. Think of her as Regina George in Mean Girls (except,
y'know, not mean): everything the girl does is trendy two seconds later. Even
though Anna's not the jealous type, you just know Clarissa's letters make her
step up her moral game. Even the prostitutes start reading moral literature
when Clarissa comes to town. Our girl can't help it: she's naturally good.
But a certain fellow whose name starts with L threw his
principles out with the bathwater. Lovelace isn't terribly concerned with
maintaining integrity, especially where Clarissa is concerned. For some
weird reason, though, the guy can't help but surround himself with virtuous
people like Clarissa and Belford. While he's not going to be copying Clarissa
anytime soon, he's picking up what the Queen Bee is putting down—and it's all
laid out in Clarissa.
Questions About Principles
- Where does Clarissa get her integrity? Does she have a role model, or does she naturally intuit what's right?
- Does Lovelace have some sort of
moral code? What does he consider crossing the line, morally speaking?
- How does Clarissa's definition of
virtue change over the course of the book?
- What leads Belford to help
Clarissa out? Is he acting according to his principles, or is there something
more going on here?
Chew on This
Clarissa's virtuous reputation is based on her ability to
empathize, not her virgin status.
Lovelace is driven to corrupt Clarissa spiritually as well
as seduce her.