Saturday, March 22, 2008

Types and Exhanges of power in Clarissa

Just struck me as interesting

After reading an article by Elizabeth Napier titled “Tremble and Reform”: The Inversion of Power in Richardson’s Clarissa”

I was struck by the exchanges of power which take place throughout the novel. Not only do Clarissa and Lovelace exchange places of power midway through the novel, as Clarissa but the exchange of power can almost be read as a chain of people and the types of power exerted over others. However, it is not the exchanges of power which I found to be most interesting, but the idea that these exchanges of power act as catalysts for the majority of action in the novel, which is especially evident when Clarissa runs away from Lovelace and we enter the most dramatic and action packed events of the novel.

As for the types of power, each character exerts various types of power at different times throughout the novel. The two main types of power are obviously physical power and mental power. In addition if we include the letters and Richardson’s position as author/editor there is also the power of the written word.

From the beginning of the novel as Clarissa exchanges letters concerning the duel between her brother and Lovelace the reader gets the first glimpse of the exchange of physical power. As the novel continues Clarissa’s family exerts its own power over Clarissa in the form of familial duty and guilt(mental power) to try to gain her consent to marry Solmes. In addition there is the power of fear which at times becomes one of the most vital sources of power acting as a catalyst for the characters’ actions.

Throughout the rest of the novel Each character has his or her own way of gaining, losing or exerting power over others, or having the force exerted upon them. It seems that no character no matter how minute their part in the novel has a n experience with power.

While lovelace deal mostly in manipulation of the mind and physical power over Clarissa during the rape…Clarissa is mostly driven by fear. Fear of loss. Losing her virtue, her family, her reputation and above all the fear of living an unhappy life. In the of the novel it is Clarissa’s power, her fear, and her physical power(illness) which leads to her demise.

The article references several letters to look at.

113,182,339,320,289,479,493,494,415,419 – just to mention a few

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