With the death of Clarissa herself, Richardson seems somewhat at a loss what to do next. This is realistic, for when someone dies the world does not come to an end for everyone else, and Richardson is giving time and chance their space to work in in bringing aobut Lovelace's death. Now Anna fills the vaccuum.
Probably others will agree when I say I found Morden's and Belford's letters to and about Anna impertinent with regard to her, and antifeminist. As I read I keep remembering the assertion voiced on the general 18th century list before the Clary List was made that _Clarissa_ has been "revived" by the feminists. I don't believe it; or, if so, these "feminists" haven't paid much attention to the detail and qualification everywhere in this book that Clarissa, or heroine, is a special case. It's true that no more than the Harlowes is she following the will of her beloved friend any farther than suits her inclination, but who are they to demand she marry? When I ask myself, what is it their business? I find myself generalizing out to: such is the nature of the moralist and belief that social conformity is identifical with the will of God or nature or goodness.
Anna's letter was a good strong reply; it is interesting in its revelation that she did love someone before Hickman very strongly, and that part of her distaste for Hickman is the result of her previous commitment. Also interesting is her suggestion that she could like Hickman as a brother; that is, there is no sexual attraction. Does this count for nothing is what she asks. The tone is quite different from that of her letters to Clarissa in its assertiveness; I also found interesting that she says she torments Hickman to get him to drop her. This makes sense, and it also parallels the earlier situation between Clarissa and Solmes. Clarissa tells Solmes it would be kindness to her to desist; he would show his consideration by desisting. Why does Hickman in this case then persist? We are not, however, led to believe he's looking forward to sadistic revenge in bed (as it is more than hinted Solmes was). But of course the above insights are not validated by the rest of the book; Clary did follow her sexual instinct, and see where it got her.
Still Anna does ask, why must she marry? She looks about and sees little encouragement to marry. Why should she make herself obedient to someone else's will? Indeed, she suggests she will not bring Hickman much happiness feeling the way she does. Alas, again the moral of the book is that if she marries, she'll adjust, and we encounter another myth which is not yet gone from this earth, that is, that what women need is sexual satisfaction and babies.