Colonel Morden Not Much Different from Lovelace in His Views

While Colonel Morden may be identified with the figure of death, he is also realistically presented. His earliest letter showed him to have a very conservative attitude towards women and marriage; again here we see he is as ridiculous over his honor and status as Lovelace, and is easily maneuvred by Lovelace into thinking Clarissa did in some sense submit or yield or give advantage to Lovelace, and so, therefore, according to this preversely adversarial way of looking at love and sex, "ask for it." In the dialogue with Anna which is left somewhat ambiguous, he insinuates this attitude about Clary and all women in a way that enrages her. He also displays this strange reluctance to visit Clarissa. I have always had and still have a hard time understanding why he does not just fly to her side; it can only be that "family" and the patriarchy override all considerations so instinctively that although people do not operate consciously as if they were in some conspiracy against an individual's rights to rebel, they make it impossible for that rebellion to succeed. Belford comes because he has already gone outside this rigid social imprisoning. Clarissa is at least a apt witticism on Cousin Morden:

And so, my friends, said she, have I heard of a patient who actually died while five or six principal physicians were in a consultation, and not agreed upon what to give to his distemper (Ross 1331).

So not all spirit has left her.

Again the brother James emerges as a central force in the destruction of his sister in Clarissa's tragedy; as he dominated the family in the earlier third of the book, so he works to prevent them from going to her and taking her in. "It's her or me," says he. We see just about everyone giving in; even Arabella sheds a drop or two. I don't know if this is quite convincing; Richardson should perhaps have presented them as also not eager to forgive; he should perhaps have brought into the dramatic scene when Morden visits and almost comes to blows with Clarissa's brother (to no use, to no end, as bad as with Lovelace) the kind of motives Arabella expresses (she's embarrassed; they're inconvenienced, it's shameful, maybe they'll lose face &c).


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