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ENL 6236 Beauty and Violence in the Enlightenment


    Class 11: Clarissa: Preparing for Death II


    Assignments:

      Clarissa, pp. 1200-1350 (L410-473.2))
      Excerpts from Wollstonecraft's Vindication of Rights of Woman, Johnson's Rambler 4 in course docs (soon).
      DUE: Post #10; Clarissa reading journal;
      Scholarship Presentation: Jackie Brecklin -- Zias, Heather. "Who Can Believe? Sentiment vs. Cynicism in Richardson's Clarissa." Eighteenth- Century Life 27.3 (2003): 99-123. Avail through Project Muse and link from class WIKI.

    Class Objectives:

    • To discuss Clarissa's final preparation for death
    • To discuss the mimesis and female character in fiction (via Johnson and Wollstonecraft)
    • To analyze the article presented by Ms. Brecklin


    ***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 473.2

    The letters begin with Lovelace's illness and recovery and attempt to visit Clarissa in London; they canvas Morden's arrival and negotiations on Clarissa's behalf, the exposure of Brand's misrepresentation and the Harlowe family's attempts to understand Clarissa. Belton's terrifying death and Clarissa's peaceful preparations, including the purchase and ornamentation of her coffin.

    What is Colonel Morden's role in this part of the narrative? What does he achieve and how does his character complicate the picture of masculinity in the novel?

    Examine the rituals of death represented by Belton's demise and Clarissa's preparations. What are the implications of this representation?

    How do the rakes react to Belton's death and why?

    What role do the poems and meditations play in this section of the novel?

    Analyze Clarissa's final letter to Lovelace, on going "to my father's house." (p. 1233).

    Why does Clarissa purchase her coffin and what role does it serve for her?

    Evaluate the characters of Dr. Lewen and Dr. H.


    2. Wollstonecraft and Johnson

    Johnson believed the best novels were didactic, and Richardson's novels were the best. What lessons does Clarissa offer? As an exemplar to all her sex, does Clarissa behave in the best way? If Clarissa is so exceptional, is there any hope of another person like Clarissa? If not, what is her didactic value?

    In section II of this chapter by Wollstonecraft she addresses the problem with the sentimental turn of mind in women. What are its characteristics, sources, and according to Wollstonecraft, its antidote?

    How does Clarissa fit into Wollstonecraft's imagined regimen for women?


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