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ENL 6236 Beauty and Violence in the Enlightenment

    Class 7: Clarissa: Plots, Contrivances and Trials - Hume


      Clarissa, pp. 600-750
      David Hume's "Of the Rise and Progress of the Arts and Sciences" from Essays Moral, Political and Literary
      DUE: Post #6; Clarissa reading journal;
      Scholarship Presentation: Sara Baugh -- Hinton, Laura. "The Heroine's Subjection: Clarissa, Sadomasochism, and Natural Law." Eighteenth-Century Studies, 32:3 (Spring 1999), 293-308. Available through Project Muse.

    Class Objectives:

    • To discuss Lovelace's plots and "trial" of Clarissa
    • To discuss politeness, violence and beauty via Hume
    • To analyze the article presented by Ms. Baugh

    ***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 229

    The narration relates Lovelace's continued "trial" of Clarissa and his strategems to seduce her. In the process we read a number of accounts of marriage and the expectations for husbands and wives. This section includes Lovelace's "illness," their outing to see "Venice Preserved," and the notorious fire episode and Clarissa's escape.

    Examine the various examples of marriage and "keeping" reviewed in this section, from Belton and Thomasine, to Antony Harlowe and Mrs. Howe, to Lovelace and Clarissa. What is the difference between marriage and "keeping"? What does the novel endorse in terms of expectations for husbands and wives? What does it appear to criticize?

    Is Anna a female rake? Is such a category viable?

    What is the source of Lovelace's anger at Clarissa after he reads her letters?

    Why is letter 208 omitted?

    Why does the imagined reconciliation between Clarissa and her family elicit so much emotion?

    Examine the fire-plot and its implications. What is the nature of the struggle between Lovelace and Clarissa in this scene? What does he mean that her power "never was at so great a height" (726) and why then does he nonetheless resolve to execute his design a second time?

    What is Lovelace's response to Clarissa's escape?

    2. Hume, "Of the Rise and Progress of the Arts and Sciences"

    "This first appeared as essay 5 in EMP (Vol. 2, 1742). In this essay Hume argues that the rise of arts and sciences is not a matter of chance but of definitive causes. Hume observes four causes. First, arts and sciences first arise only in free governments. Second, politeness and learning spread through international commerce. Third, once established, a republic is most favourable to sciences, and a civilised monarchy most favourable to arts. Fourth, when arts and sciences decline in a country, they seldom revive in that same country." From the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, entry for David Hume's Essays, Moral, Political and Literary. This entry by James Fieser provides useful background information on the essay genre, Hume's philosophy, a summary of the contents of this work, and its publication and reception history.

    As with Burke's text, evaluate this as an Enlightenment document. How does this demonstrate evidence of Enlightenment ideas we have been discussing?

    Beauty and violence play key roles in Hume's understanding of the progress of the arts and sciences. How would you summarize his theory?

    What is gallantry, according to Hume, and what roles do men and women play in its performance? To what extent are these ideas helpful in understanding the conflicts between Lovelace and Clarissa? Between Lovelace and Lord M? Between Lovelace and the Harlowes?

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