Study Guide

Clarissa Revenge

By Samuel Richardson

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No, Clarissa doesn't come swooping in with a cape to deliver justice to those who have wronged her. (Would watch.) Instead, revenge gets talked about….and talked about…and talked about, without anyone's making good on their passionate promises. That is, unless you count James Harlowe's weak attempt to fight Lovelace for making fun of him in college, which we don't, because James falls right on his face. Obviously.

No, revenge is mostly a pipe dream for Clarissa's friends and family. Until Colonel Morden arrives in the final act, it seems like Lovelace will get away with his crimes. Of course, we still love to imagine all 1500 pages of Clarissa as a build up to the final duel, in which Morden gives Lovelace a little taste of revenge. It is a dish best served cold, after all, and anything would be cold after 1,500 pages. 

Questions About Revenge

  1. What are James's motives for revenge against Lovelace? Do they have anything to do with Clarissa?
  2. Does Anna finally get her revenge against Lovelace?
  3. Why is Morden so cool and collected while seeking revenge? Is that just part of his M.O.?
  4. Why doesn't anyone try to seek revenge against Lovelace for the other women he's seduced and ruined?

Chew on This

Richardson generally approves of duels and sees them as a good way to settle offenses against your honor.

Belford's revenge against Lovelace consists of becoming Clarissa's executor. (Instead of executioner. Womp womp.)

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