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ENL 6236 Beauty and Violence in the Enlightenment

    Class 10: Clarissa: Preparing for Death I


      Clarissa, pp. 1050-1200 (L333-409)
      Barbara Taylor, "Feminists Versus Gallants: Manners and Morals in Enlightenment Britain," Representations Summer 2004, 87: 125-48. In course docs.
      DUE: Post #8; Clarissa reading journal;
      Scholarship Presentation: Erin Yerke -- Stephanson, Raymond. "'Richard's Nerves': The Physiology of Sensibility in Clarissa." Journal of the History of Ideas 49:2 (Spring 1988), 267-285 PDF linked to course wiki.

    Class Objectives:

    • To discuss Clarissa's negotiations with friends
    • To discuss the character of Belton and other men, via article by Taylor
    • To analyze the article presented by Ms. Yerke

    ***NOTE ON PROCEDURES: For students who are presenting, please make a link to your paper from the main schedule of the wiki site. Also please send me a formatted copy of the paper by email. For all other students, please examine the article as we have been in class, and be prepared to identify and evaluate the thesis, main points, method, and validity of the arguments.

    Notes and Discussion Questions:

    1. Clarissa - through Letter 409

    These letters open with an account of Clarissa's sufferings in prison, her release and return to Smith's, her physical decline and her developing friendship with Belton. Meanwhile while Clarissa meditates on death and forgiveness, others negotiate worldly means to help or punish Clarissa.

    Certain significant parallels develop in this section that we might explore more fully: Belton's physical decline and Clarissa's, the letters between Anna and Arabella, the torments and lack of mercy from Polly and Sally versus that of the Harlowe family, the role of curses delivered and lifted.

    Analyze the prison scenes. What effect do they have on Clarissa? How do they change (or do they) her story/future?

    Belford is certainly the significant figure in these pages. Comment on his transformation of character. How does his relationship with Lovelace change? What happens when he tries to help Clarissa? Who ends up helping whom? Why does he share Lovelace's letters with Clarissa and what are the implications?

    What is Clarissa's medical condition in this section? How do the people of the novel explain it? What are the moral implications of her illness?

    Evaluate Clarissa's new friends and caregivers. How effective are they? How do they compare with her earlier friends?

    In this section the Harlowe family reappears after a long absence. How have they changed? How have they remained the same?

    2. Barbara Taylor, "Feminists Versus Gallants: Manners and Morals in Enlightenment Britain"

    What are the characteristics of modern Enlightenment gallantry, according to Taylor? Who advocates it and why?

    How do women fare in this new code of behavior? In what sense might these codes represent an Enlightened view of women?

    More to follow.

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