Anna Howe writes to her friend Clarissa Garlow that in the world there is a lot of talk about a clash between James Garlow and Sir Robert Lovelace, ending with the wound of his older brother Clarissa. Anna asks to talk about the incident, and on behalf of her mother asks to send a copy of that part of the testament of Grandfather Clarissa, which tells the reasons that prompted an elderly gentleman to refuse his property to Clarisse, and not to his sons or other grandchildren.
Clarissa in response describes the incident in detail, starting her story from the way Lovelace got to their house. Everything happened in the absence of the heroine, and she learned about the first visits of Lovelace from her elder sister Arabella, who decided that the refined aristocrat had serious views on her. She told Clarissa about her plans without embarrassment until she finally realized that the restraint and the silent courtesy of the young man testify to his coldness and the absence of any interest in Arabella. The enthusiasm was replaced by an open dislike, which my brother eagerly supported. It turns out that he always hated Lovelace, envying his aristocratic refinement and ease in communication, which is given by origin, not money. James began a quarrel, and Lovelace only defended himself. The attitude of the Garlow family to Lovelace has changed dramatically, and he was denied home.
From the promised copy, attached to the letter of Clarissa, the reader learns that the Garlow
The Garlow family is indignant. One of his father’s brothers, Anthony, even tells his niece that the rights to the land of Clarissa are common to all Garlowes before she was born. Her mother, fulfilling the will of her husband, threatened that the girl would not be able to use her property. All threats had to force Clarissa to abandon the inheritance and marry Roger Solms. All Garlow is well aware of the stinginess, greed and cruelty of Solms, since it’s no secret that he refused to help his own sister on the grounds that she married without his consent. He did the same cruelly to his uncle.
Since the Lovelace family has significant influence, Garlow does not immediately break with him, so as not to spoil relations with Lord M. In any case, the correspondence between Clarissa and Lovelace began at the request of the family. The young man could not help but fall in love with the charming sixteen-year-old girl, who had a beautiful syllable and was very faithful to her judgments. Later, from Lovelace’s letters to his friend and confidant John Belford, the reader will learn about the true feelings of the young gentleman and how they changed under the influence of the moral qualities of the young girl.
The girl persists in her intention to abandon the marriage with Solms and denies all accusations of being carried away by Lovelace. The family is very cruelly trying to suppress the obstinacy of Clarissa – her room is searched to find letters that incriminate her, and the trusted servant is banished. Her attempts to find help at least one of the many relatives do not lead to anything. The family of Clarissa easily decided on any pretense, to deprive the rebellious daughter of the support of others. In the presence of the priest, they demonstrated family peace and harmony, in order to later deal with the girl even more severely. How then Lovelace will write to his friend, Garlow did everything to make the girl respond to his courtship. To this end, he settled near the estate of Garlow under an alien name. In the house, Garlow got a spy, He informed him all the details of what was happening there, than he later hit Clarissa. Naturally, the girl did not suspect about the true intentions of Lovelace, who had chosen her as an instrument of revenge by the hated Garlow. The fate of the girl was of little interest to him, although some of his judgments and actions allow one to agree with Clarissa’s initial attitude toward him, who tried to judge him fairly and did not yield to all kinds of rumors and prejudiced attitudes towards him.
At the inn, where the young gentleman settled, lived a young girl who admired Lovelace with her youth and naivety. He noticed that she was in love with a neighbor’s youth, but there were no hopes for marriage of young people, since he was promised a significant amount if he marries at the choice of his family. A lovely lackey, raised from her grandmother, can not count on anything. About all this Lovelace writes to his friend and asks him to come with respect to treat the poor thing.
Anna Hou, learning that Lovelace lives under the same roof with a young lady, warns Clarissa and asks not to get carried away with unabashed red tape. Clarissa, however, wants to make sure of the truthfulness of the rumors and turns to Anna with a request to talk with the alleged lover. In delight, Anna tells Clarissa that the rumors are false that Lovelace not only did not seduce the innocent soul, but, after talking with her family, provided the girl with a dowry in the amount of the same hundred guineas that were promised to her fiance.
Relatives, seeing that no persuasions and harassment are working, say to Clarisse that they send her to her uncle and her only visitor will be Solms. It means that Clarissa is doomed. The girl informs Lovelace about this, and he offers her to flee. Clarissa is convinced that she should not do this, but, touched by one of Lovelace’s letters, decides to tell him about it at the meeting. With great difficulty getting to the appointed place, as all her family members followed her walks in the garden, she meets her devoted friend. He also tries to overcome her resistance and carries him to the carriage prepared in advance. He manages to do what he has planned, since the girl does not doubt that they are being persecuted. She hears the noise behind the garden gate, she sees the pursuing pursuer and instinctively succumbs to her “
Clarissa did not immediately realize that the kidnapping took place, as some details of what was happening corresponded to what Lovelace wrote about, suggesting an escape. They were expected by two noble relatives of a gentleman, who in fact were his disguised accomplices, who helped him to keep the girl locked up in a terrible den. Moreover, one of the girls, wearied with errands, advises Lovelace to treat the captive just as he did with them, which eventually happened.
But at first the aristocrat continued to pretend, then making the offer to the girl, then forgetting about him, forcing her, as she once put it, between hope and doubt, leaving her parents’ home, Clarissa was at the mercy of a young gentleman, since public opinion was on his side. Since Lovelace believed that the latter circumstance is obvious to the girl, she is completely in his power, and he did not immediately realize his mistake.
Later, Clarissa and Lovelace describe the same events, but interpret them in different ways, and only the reader understands how the characters are mistaken about the true feelings and intentions of each other.
Lovelace himself in letters to Belford describes in detail the reaction of Clarissa to his words and deeds. He talks a lot about the relationship between men and women. He assures the friend that, say, nine nine out of ten women are to blame for their fall, and that by subjugating a woman once, one can expect she will be submissive in the future. His letters abound with historical examples and unexpected comparisons. The persistence of Clarissa irritates him, no tricks do not work for the girl – she remains indifferent to all the temptations. Everyone advises Clarisse to accept Lovelace’s proposal and become his wife. The girl is not sure of the sincerity and seriousness of Lovelace’s feelings and is in doubt. Then Lovelace decides to use violence, after first having infected Clarissa with a lulling potion. What happened deprives Clarissa of any illusions, However, it retains its former firmness and rejects all attempts by Lovelace to redeem what he has done. Her attempt to escape from the den was not successful – the police were on the side of Lovelace and the scoundrels Sinclair – the owner of the brothel, who helped him. Lovelace finally sees and is terrified of what he has done. But he can not fix anything.
Clarissa prefers death to marriage with a dishonest person. She sells little that she has from clothes to buy herself a coffin. He writes farewell letters, makes a will and quietly dies.
The testament, touchingly trimmed with black silk, indicates that Clarissa forgave all the harm that caused her. She starts by saying that she always wanted to be buried next to her beloved grandfather, at her feet, but since fate decreed otherwise, she gives orders to bury her in that parish where she died. She did not forget a single member of her family and those who were kind to her. She also asks not to pursue Lovelace.
In desperation, the repentant young man leaves England. From a letter sent to his friend Belford by a French nobleman, it becomes known that the young gentleman met William Morden. A duel took place, and the mortally wounded Lovelace died in torment with words about redemption.