A Symphony and New Phase

I suggest we are entering a new movement of our "symphony:"

Phase 1: Clary against Harlowes;

Phase 2: Clary against Lovelace;

Phase 3: Clary for Death

What has happened in a way is nothing has happened. As I remarked in another posting for June 13, Lovelace himself in effect subscribed to the notion that full intercourse effected some magical change in people. He expected that having you-know-whatted the lady, she would somehow radically change. But not at all. She's the same woman. There's a real irony here Richardson is fully aware of. All along Lovelace has averred that full intercourse means nothing. Well he finds it does.

And a kind of comedy is in these scenes: not a funny one though. Sometimes Lovelace is made to be aware of this: "now is she as much too lively, as before she was too stupid; and 'bating that she has pretty frequent intervals, would be deemed raving mad, and I should be obliged to confine her." There is he still play the same act he was before "climax" (excuse the pun):

I do all in my power to quiet her spirits, when I force myself into her presence.
I go on, begging pardon one minute; and vowing truth and honour another
(Ross Penguin p 889).

But now she's having none of it. He has shown his hand, and she trumps him, not him her. Or to look at the game another way he's played his hand, and it did no good, and he's not got any more cards up his sleeve.

To change metaphors, he's caught in his own web, and wretched at her behavior, sorry for her, puzzled, actually a bit frightened she's gone really crazy (I am most confoundedly disturbed about it: for I begin to fear that her intellects are irreparably hurt"), depressed:

The devil take me for a fool! What's the matte with me, I wonder!--I must breathe a fresher air for a few days.
But what shall I do with this admirable creature the while?--Hang me, if I know--For if I stir, the venomous spider [Mrs Sinclair] of this habitation will want to set upon the charming fly, whose silken waings are already so entangled in my enormous web that she cannot move hand or foot: for so much has grief stupefied her, that she is at present as destitute of will, as she always seemed of desire. I must not therefore think of leaving her yet for two days together (Penguin Ross p 887)

On June 15, Thursday, Letters 259-60 we have in fact a comically gloomy Lovelace. He's not having any fun at all. He can't understand it: "Miss Clarissa Harlowe has but run the fate of a thousand others..." She's in real danger from Sinclair; he has ruined his own possible happiness. He tells himself he must make the best of it (Let 260), but this is impossible for she will not permit it. He's afraid of her reality, for she has been for real all along. And now this particular round of the game is over--unless of course he's prepared to rape by violence and drugs again, which he is, give him this, not.

In some ways Lovelace shows his more moral side in these letters, and his "stupidity" in the sense that he didn't realize what he was getting into (evil it's said is stupid--I only wish I believed this one). His problem so to speak is he's really not determined to bully Clarissa endlessly. He's not a criminal. Sinclair is. But I don't know if Richardson wanted us to remember that someone else would have. Perhaps this is inferring or extrapolating too far But the point is there that he's not a criminal; Sinclair is, and Clarissa is in danger from her as she senses from her fear of Dorcas' ferocity when she (Clary) refuses to eat.


Other posts under this date in the novel:
             Rape in Clarissa and Middleton's Women Beware Women
             The Rape: The Effects of Epistolary Rearrangement
             The Most Distasteful Aspect of the Rape That Clarissa was Drugged and Held Down
             Rape As Attack

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