We are two part-time academics. Ellen teaches in the English department and Jim in the IT program at George Mason University.
Anna Howe [Hermione Norris] reading Clarissa’s letter telling Anna of Clarissa’s desperate need for some shelter since her family is ruthlessly, punitively pressuring to marry Mr Solmes (BBC/WBGH Clarissa, 1991)
You will find on today’s blog, a transcription of 3 scenes which did not fit into the theme of my 20 minute paper on the 1991 film adaptation of Richardson’s Clarissa, ”’How you all must have laughed. Such a witty masquerade:’ Clarissa 1991“, where I limited myself to discussing the uses of 18th century art in the film.
As with the Shakespeare’s tragic play Hamlet, if you go through the film adaptation just watching the scenes between Lovelace (Sean Bean) and Clarissa (Saskia Wickham) you can trace a developing sick relationship brought on by the social arrangments and assumptions they live with or by. I have chosen to transcribe three key moments from the film where we see our protagonists clash directly over core conflicts: in the first Clary asserts her right to a way of life of her own choosing, a right Lovelace fiercely denies on the basis of his passion for her; in the second, he has just tried to coerce her into sexual intercourse through forcing upon her violent petting, and pressures her into promising to forgive him; in the third, he has just raped her and asks for her forgiveness, and she tells him his violation of her and continual use of lying precludes her having any possible relationship with him ever.
The first occurs after the disastrous dinner party where Clarissa is forced to sit and listen to the jeering salacious talk of Lovelace’s friends and the prostitutes, and the next morning (a dream-like improbable sequence) finds the room downstairs where the evidence of her eyes shows her sexual and drinking orgies go on. She flees upstairs, and is intercepted by Lovelace:
On the landing between stairwells near her room, Part 3, Episode 2 (“Entertainment”).
Clarissa; “What kind of place is this that you have brought me to?”
Lovelace: “What kind?”
Clarissa: “If you do not answser I willthink it is because you dare not.”
Lovelace: “I know as little of the place as you do. It was your choce, not mine [she was manipulated into it]. Has someone here offended you?”
Clarissa: “You offend me, sir.”
Lovelace [bullying her]: “I, how do I offend? [Coming close, menacing tone] I put my life at your disposal. I place my hopes of salvation in your care, and what do I receive in return? Scorn, contempt, accusations. I am a proud man, Madam.
She looks supercilious.
Clarissa: “Is that a confession or a boast?”
Lovelace: “Is this what I deserve?”
Clarissa: “God knows what you deserve? It is not my concern. I shall leave this place tomorrow. Do not try to stop me.”
Lovelace: “And go where?” [aggressive gesture at her, and she backs away]
Clarissa: “That need not trouble you [I love this steely line best of all in the film adaptation] I’ve told you the single life is all I want. You may live as you please.”
Clarissa (Saskia Wickham) tells Lovelace (Sean Bean) she wants him to leave her and it’s no business of his where she goes
“And if I please to live with you.”
She is going into her room and turns on the threshold.
Clarissa: “That cannot be.”
Lovelace: “Oh but it must. [She shuts the door.] We were born for each other. You must be mind even at the cost of my damnation.
The personality projected by these lines reminds me strongly of Anne Bronte’s Helen Graham in her Tenant of Wildfell Hall finally rejected her vicious lout of a husband, and suggests to me the connection between Nokes and Barron’s two film adaptations.
The same strong pride and self-esteem and desire to live on and in her self rather than this distasteful to her death-in-life on offer.
The second occurs after the faked fire incident. We see women looking from one door, Lovelace at the other, Dorcas bringing up fire, and women dousing, fanning, out she flies (face again suffused with distress), and Lovelace pulls her in. Fire letters 224, 231, Folio Society, I, pp. 722-27, 757 (in book it’s not threatened genital sex, using a phallus, but actual literal breast sucking is suggested, his hands on her breasts and in her vulva area). Inside bedroom he leaps on her in bed, “Don’t be afraid,” she conjures him not to, she gets out of his grasp, finds scissors (not so central in text). Words, as he rushes in and mastershot from above of them in bed with single spotlight.
Clarissa’s bedroom, Part 3, Episode 3 (Uncle’s News):
Lovelace: “Don’t be afraid.”
Clary: “Mr Lovelace.”
Lovelace: “I promise you. Tomorrow we shall be married.”
Clary. “Let me go.”
Clary: Let me … go … (She wrenches herself out of his grasp, out of the bed and onto the floor of her room)
She grabs scissors, and points it at him opened.
Clary: “Oh you villain.”
He moves over. He lunges and downs her once again to bed. They are on bed again, struggle, he attempting to force her to accede, she with scissors.
Lovelace: “Am I a villain? Am I?”
Clary: “Yes. Let me go and God Almghtly shall have mercy on you.”
He’s now pulling her hair hard and under great strain in his face.
He suddenly stands back.
Lovelace: “Forgive me.” (Looks ashamed)
Thunder heard, rain, she lays there shaking, trembling all over.
Clary: “Please go. Just leave me. ” She stands there in smock, great strained self-control
Lovelace emerges from darkness.
Lovelace: “Only if you forgive me.You must tell me that that I am forgiven. That you will see [me?] tomorrow as if nothing has happened. Do you?”
Clary. “Yes, yes I forgive you.”
Lovelace. “Honestly. ”
Lovelace: “Upon your honor. Say upon your honor.”
Clary: “Upon my honor.” (We hear rain)
Lovelace takes her face, pulls back to his.
Lovedlace; “I’ll seal my pardon with a kiss.” (He forces a mouth-to-mouth kiss. Then lets her go).
The last occurs when the filmic Clary tells Lovelace she wants a single life, and he tells her she shall never have it if he has anything to do with it.
The third occurs after the rape.
Downstairs in Mrs Sinclair’s brothel, Part 4, Episode 2 (“The Final Act”). Clarissa is brought before Lovelace between Sally and Deborah:
Clarissa: “What further evils are reserved for me?
Clarissa: “I find I am your prisoner”
He signals women to leave. He walks slowly around room and sits down.
Lovelace. “Madam. Clarissa. I am truly truly sorry.” (Puts out hand.)
Clarissa: (Backs away.) “Don’t touch me.” (Revulsed expression.)
Lovelace: “I love you.”
Clarissa: “Some new strategem.”
Lovelace: “Believe me.”
Clarissa: “Again? As I believed Captain Tomlinson? and Lady Betty? How you all must have laughed. Such a witty masquerade.”
Lovelace: “Let me make amends.”
Clarissa: “What? Can you blot out the past week? (Intense strain in her face.) “Am I or am I not at my own liberty now? Or is the pantomime not yet over? Once subdued, always subdued. Is that not one of your maxims? Well? Do you think to make me your whore?”
Lovelace. “No. My wife.”
Clarissa: (Revulsed altogether.) “What?”
Lovelace. “Marry me.”
Clarissa: (Looks down.) “Never.” (Shakes her head.)
Lovelace looks down. He then tries to bully her.
Lovelace: “I warn you do not make me desperate. My patience is not inexhaustible. No other man will have you now.”
Clarissa looks at him with quiet scorn
Lovelace: (Angry.) “Depend upon it, madame, you shall be mine.”
Clarissa: “Yours? My soul is above you, man. Urge me not to tell you how sincerely I know my soul is above you. I would not bind myself in covenant with you for a thousand thousand worlds.”
Lovelace taking in those words
This is an interim entry. I find I am going so slowly nowadays on all projects that I can take but one step at a time. Last night I managed to put up my paper on the 1991 mini-series Clarissa on my website, complete with all the stills (three series of stills substitutes for clips), notes and a transcription of the duelling scene.
Putting the paper there is part of a general updating I’m now working of the 1997 website I created to present “Reading Clarissa in Real Time, a record in the form of postings sent to a list called Clary-l where I and a group of mostly academics read Richadson’s Clarissa in the course of a year following the calendar of the novel.
For my paper defending the film adaptation, I include my original proposal, a detailed comparison of the film and Richardson’s Clarissa, and list of letters in the film (which formed the evidence for my argument that the film makes continual use of filmic epistolarity), and a link to the part of my website which includes numerous essays on epistolarity in the novels of Austen and Anthony Trollope as well as on real women’s letters in the Renaissance.
Mrs Sinclair (Catherine Harrison) tries to peek into Lovelace’s mail
Over the years since I made the site and put up the postings of the one reading and discussion of the novel according to date time in the novel I’ve become aware and been told that mostly students use (read) the site. So I plan to preface the older “real time reading” a brief selected annotated bibliography of Richardson studies (books, collections of essays, individual essays in periodicals) as well as a few good film studies books directed at new and non-professional readers of Richardson’s book as well as students.
Mrs Harlowe [Frances Vener] looking down at her daughter dead in the coffin, the last still of my paper
P.S. Using the above, I’d like to put a blog on the part of my website dedicated to Clarissa, which would enable people to make comments on the site. Alas, this blog is not able to continually allow for comments; so this is another flaw or gap. The Admiral and I are discussing moving this blog onto more modern software. My vote is for Wordpress which, with his help, I think I could understand. He is trying to work out (once again) something more original and plainer (and yet for free). Stay tuned.
P.P.S. I just discovered I missed an essay on the filmic Clarissa that would have been of great interest to me: Lisa Hopkins, “The transference of Clarissa; psychoanalysis and the realm of the feminine,” Cultural Studies, 6:2 (1994):218-25. I knew about her essay on Clarissa as a gothic movie, but not this. When I am able to, I will add it to the website paper.
Posted by: Ellen
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