Study Guide

Clarissa Society and Class

By Samuel Richardson

Society and Class

It's not like Clarissa is all high-society or anything. She's just extremelyconscious that class matters if she wants to survive and thrive in her little community. Let's just say that Clarissais like a giant game of that middle-school game Telephone. People are constantly whispering, and Clarissa is the hottest topic of conversation since Lady So-and-So married Whatshisface.

Even more important than Clarissa's reputation is acting correctly for her class. If she can stay out of the headlines and marry someone who adds to her family's fortune, she'll be set for life. Of course, that won't be the easiest task in the world—not as long as there's a handsome devil looking to woo her and not wed her.

Questions About Society and Class

  1. Based on what we know about Clarissa's family, what social class are they from? How do we know?
  2. Is Lovelace of a significantly different class than Clarissa's family? Why are the Harlowes so dead-set against Clarissa marrying Lovelace?
  3. Is Clarissa completely ostracized from society when she runs away from Lovelace?
  4. Why can't Clarissa take her grandfather's fortune and peace out?

Chew on This

Clarissa is far more concerned with maintaining her reputation than advancing her social class, which leads to most of her problems.

Lovelace couldn't care less about where he stands in society. He just wants to do his own thing—and if that involves consorting with whores, so be it.