Clary's Mind Slips Back and Forth over the Edge

In two previous posts I have referred blandly to the "stress of circumstances" on Clary, with the inference that these are what's making her mind slip. I see evidence for this everywhere in this time at Hampstead, e.g.,

"At last, seeing a bill up for letting lodgings, she walked backwards and forwards half a dozen times, as if unable to determine what to do" (Ross Penguin Let 232, Upper Flask, Hampstead, Friday [June 9] morn 7o' clock, p 764)...
"she started and looked at me in terror"...(Let 233, Hampstead, Friday night, June 9, p 772)
"the lady seems to dread the sight of you" (Let 233, p 774)
"Nobody has a right to stop me, said she!--I will go!--Who should I be afraid of?--Her very question, charming creature! testifying her fear... (Let 235, p 795)
"she intends to write, when she shall have a quieter heart, and less trembling fingers (Let 240, p 815)

So when I talk of stress of circumstances I mean Clary's slipping off the edge because 1) she's lost her family and thus her "safety net" (to use the modern word) which means house, bed, food, quiet, bodily safety; 2) she's lived with Lovelace passing as his wife for weeks which most people in her society would believe means she's slept with him for said weeks and they will treat her so and regard her as his as he does, and simply wait for the marriage to happen and wonder what's wrong with him or her; 3) and; she's got no money, no connections she can turn to; 4) he's the enemy, or is he?

Ah. but maybe not. Maybe he's going to secure her; and so here's where the mind wavers, and turns and twists, and doesn't know what to think or what to do or which feeling is the one to act on. Richardson means to trace Clary's slippage into that mood when the mind becomes confused, unable, weak, strained, near tears, and loses its hold on judgement and firmness when dealing with immediate experience, let alone making any choices about 5 minutes from now. He does this to make us understand why Clarissa allows herself to be taken back to Mrs Sinclair's brothel. She is after all safe from rape when she is with Miss Rawlins.

The scenes are relevant to our own time too. in the realm of why abused women stay with abusive men. It seems to me women like Mrs Bobbit get no more sympathy from feminists than they do from the upholders of the status quo with the male on top. They are regarded with contempt by both camps; demands are made upon them to be aggressive, forceful, and commanding, to leave the man, to build a life, to care for children while doing all this. They could do worse than understand how Clarissa Harlowe was brought low.

I believe women behave differently than men in many areas. One area is marriage, and although things have changed (I don't know if they've improved--in every social rearrangement there are winners and losers on all sides), I would say women are still more vulnerable than men. They get pregnant, have the babies, and still in our society the child is most deeply the mother's responsibility (I know this is said to be changing; but I haven't seen it locally in real life.) They also have much less money, worse jobs. So when it's time to walk, and in marriage it's like buying a car from a cardealer; as everyone knows during negotations, you must be prepared to walk and mean it.

So the woman must somewhere resolve in her not only that she can do all this, but that the bond between her and her lover is irretrievably broken down. Else why take such punishment. For the woman inside is not sure that the punishment outside is not worse than what she's getting.

I was not just to Clary; she does walk; at least she tries. She flees the Sinclair house. But the problem is it's not an effective flight. Why go where he and she were together? Well, because that's what she knows. Then she walks on the hill like that; is traced; flight is new to her so she's not good at it.

Also I submt that she's not resolved deeply that she's had enough. That's why all the traumatic tragedy-queen speeches: she's trying to convince herself she's got to go it alone. And we know how she longed to return to her family. While the struggle goes on her mind is slightly cracked. The word is a good one; so is the word crazy which ought not to be lightly used. She can hear his echoing question: "Whither would you go?" (Ross Penguin Let 235, p 796). Oh whither whither asks today's abused women. To the wolves outside? And she writhes in his grasp while he enjoys his power and punishing of her for she is the only thing he has power over her totally--for some men at all: "I find a pleasure in playing the truant over what I love" (Ross Penguin, Let 234, p 78).

So she's dragged back. We see the 20th century abused women in an 18th century mirror. a modern real predicament for women.

One final comment: I take the view one finds in many places, but among them Thomas Szasz in The Myth of Mental Illness; this may sound paradoxical; but what Szasz says and what I was saying by shorthand is that Freudian analysis is often useless; actually he says in effect it's bunk; I do agree it's often, as he suggests, a kind of cover society uses which blames the individual who is called "mentally ill," and seeks uselessly and sometimes for years on end and at great expense, to "cure" the individual by making him or her talk of past "traumas." Instead Szasz says what's wrong with most of these people could be mostly "cured" by giving them a good job, getting them out of a bad marriage, a bad family, removing them from various racial and social humiliations; these are driving them wild, and destroying, consuming them. Remove them, and you remove the illness, says Szasz or at least in time. I agree the road to recovery is found. I suggest psychiatrists are, whether they realize this or not, always agents of the establishment and state, and work to make people conform. In totalitarian societies they are just more obviously instruments of the state; the lettre de cachet returns, only now it's horrendous fees to someone who cannot help you, for it's not a just a matter of the individual behaving differently. What was wanted of Clarissa was that she marry an animal named Solmes who was willing to buy her at a high price; now what is required is that she become Lovelace's plaything and no-one will help her or is able to see why she is in such a frenzy. Whither will you go, Clary, whither is there?


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