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ENL 6236 Beauty and Violence in the Enlightenment

    Class 9: Clarissa: The Rape - part II, manners


      Clarissa, pp. 900-1050 (L264-333)
      Selections from John Brown's An Estimate of the Manners and Principles of the Times (1757) available through Google Books or through ECCO database. Read all of Part I (through p. 70 -- the pages are SMALL) and the conclusion, p 209-221.
      DUE: Post #8; Clarissa reading journal;
      Scholarship Presentation: Brian McAllister -- Soupel, Serge. "Clarissa versus Lovelace: The Appropriation of Space and Clashing Rhetorics." Clarissa and Her Readers: New Essays for the Clarissa Project. Eds. Carol Houlihan Flynn and Edward Copeland. New York: AMS, 1999. 163-73. PDF linked to course wiki.

    Class Objectives:

    • To discuss the rape from Clarissa's point of view; Clarissa's struggles to escape
    • To discuss the analysis of cultural effeminacy in Brown
    • To analyze the article presented by Mr. McAllister

    ***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 333

    This section details Clarissa's struggles to regain her autonomy and attempts to escape even while she declines physically. Lovelace becomes increasingly frantic. The section ends with Clarissa's arrest.

    At issue in this section are the different definitions of certain key words: honor (or honour), violence, triumph, to name a few. What is at stake in the defining or understanding of these terms for Lovelace and for Clarissa?

    In what sense is Lovelace's rape of Clarissa a "notional violation" (917)?

    How does Lovelace's character develop in this section?

    Compare Clarissa's account of the rape-narrative with what we learned from Lovelace.

    What happens to Clarissa's voice/spirit in this section and how does this parallel or contrast with what happens to her physical body?

    Compare the trial scenes in this section: Clarissa at Sinclair's (L281) and Lovelace among his relations (L323-325)

    How has Belford changed in response to his active service on behalf of Clarissa?

    2. John Brown, An Estimate of the Manners and Principles

    Published in 1757-8 during the early years of the Seven Years War when the English public was smarting under military losses, Brown's scourge on the degeneracy of the times was an extremely popular analysis that supposedly went into seven editions in one year. Learn more about John Brown (1715-1766) from Wikipedia or other online sources.

    The sections I have asked you to read introduce and explain the significance of his argument: the prevailing character of his contemporary England is "vain, Luxurious and selfish Effeminacy" (29).

    Why does Brown conclude that he need only describe the principles and manners of the ruling elite of Britain?

    What is the forseen conclusion of the "calamitous situation" (14) Brown describes? What has this to do with vanity, luxury, selfishness and effeminacy?

    He suggest that one positive side effect of the excess of delicacy in the current age is the sinking of obscenity into "gentle Gallantry" (45). How does this compare with Hume's assessment of the gallantry of this age? In what sense might Brown's Estimate be the polemical opposite to Hume's optimism?

    Evaluate his understanding of gender differences in this piece. He claims, for example, that women "are included in the Estimate. The sexes have now little other apparent Distinction, beyond that of Person and Dress; Their peculiar and characteristic Manners are confounded and lost: the one Sex having advanced into Boldness, as the other have sunk into Effeminacy" (51). How might this relate to our readings on the history of masculinity and the one-sex, two-sex model of gender distinction?

    Brown argues that "honour" is no longer to be found among the English, by which he means "the desire of Fame, or the Applause of Men, directed to the End of Public Happiness" (58). In what sense is this the "honour" at stake in Clarissa? How might it be different?

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