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ENL 6236 Beauty and Violence in the Enlightenment

    Class 4: Clarissa: Male violence, education


      Clarissa, pp. 151-300
      John Locke "Some thoughts on Education" in Jacobs; Shoemaker, "Reforming Male Manners" in course docs
      Due: Post #3; Clarissa reading journal;
      Scholarship Presentation: Pamela Coovert -- Martin, Mary Patricia. "Reading Reform in Richardson's Clarissa." Studies in English Literature, 1500-1900, Vol. 37, No. 3, Restoration and Eighteenth Century. (Summer, 1997), 595-614. Available through JSTOR.

    Class Objectives:

    • To discuss Clarissa's continued confinement, two marriage "choices", male violence
    • To discuss Enlightenment models of education via Locke
    • To review historical information on changes in male manners, public insults and violence
    • To analyze the article presented by Ms. Coovert

    Notes and Discussion Questions:

    1. Clarissa - through Letter 76

    The letters of this section narrate Clarissa's confinement in Harlowe place, her family's methods to impose Solmes on her and her attempts at resistance; her continued correspondence and clandestine meeting with Lovelace; Anna's continued advice and moral support.

    Letter 36 - Clarissa describes for Anna Lovelace's surprise visit to her in the woodhouse. This important letter establishes some patterns of behavior between the two leading characters in the novel. What happens here? How does Clarissa influence Lovelace? To what extent does Lovelace maniuplate Clarissa? How does the interview change Clarissa's feelings toward Lovelace? What does he achieve by this dangerous and clandestine act?

    Much of the writing between Clariss and Anna in this section concerns evaluation of male character and the potential for happiness with a husband. Considering the readings by Locke and Shoemaker, what does Richardson contribute to the debate over male character in these letters. To what extent is bravery a component of the gendered economy of heterosexual love being promoted here? What is the feminine character expected to be in relation to the proper male character? Choose specific passages to analyze, for example, Clarissa's discussion of bravery on p. 182-3. Analyze Anna's evaluation of Hickman's character and marriage in Letters 65 and 68.

    Evaluate the character of Solmes. Why does Clarissa loathe him so completely? Why does she have such abject horror at the thought of being his wife?

    Again, evaluate the role of dueling and in particular Clarissa's representation of it in letter 56. How does the reality of violence change when Clarissa's rescinds her agreement to meet Lovelace secretly?

    How does Lovelace's character change or develop in this section? Consider the letters exchanged between Anna and Clarissa regarding the nature of his relationship with "Rosebud."

    Why does Clarissa feel less antipathy and greater sympathy for Rosebud when she learns she is innocent?

    What options does Clarissa have at the end of this section?

    2. Locke, Shoemaker

    How does Locke's essay "Some Thoughts Concerning Education" contribute to the spread of Enlightenment ideas?

    What recommendations does the author anticipate will be surprising to his reader? What recommendations are actually surprising to you, the 21st-century reader? What might you conclude about the differences between the two?

    Shoemaker traces the rise in incidence of male public insult to the period 1660-1740, the period just prior to the writing of Clarissa. What contributes to the rise in public insult? What is the relationship between public insult and male violence? How does politeness figure into this historical transition?

    Shoemaker concludes that the incidence of male public insult declines after this period as does the general incidence of public violence. What role does effeminancy play in the critique of male public insult? Why does masculine honor stand to lose less by defamation in this period than female honor? What role does sentimental literature (of which we can take Clarissa as a stellar example) play in the critique of male manners at this time? Do you see evidence in the novel for a shift in favor of private masculine honor based on inner virtues?

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