Monday, March 3, 2008

The Virgin's Nosegay

What interested me in this week's reading was the debate surrounding Clarissa's arguments that her virtue had been destroyed and Lovelace's claims of her "hardness of heart and over-delicacy" (831). Captain Tomlinson, Widow Bevis, Miss Rawlins, and Mrs. Moore all weigh in on this perpetual tension. In issues like this one and in other moral dilemmas that Clarissa faces, there's usually a curious disconnect between Clarissa's sense of morality, her family's, and society's. Sometimes these perspectives align, but Clarissa seems increasingly radical in her conception of her virtue.

I looked around online, and an ECCO search yielded this work called The virgin’s nosegay, or, the duties of Christian virgins: digested into succinct chapters, ... To which is added, Advice to a new married lady. I've included the title page, table of contents, and a couple particularly interesting passages that might flesh out the context in which Clarissa was wrestling with herself and Lovelace.

Note the correlation the author draws between suppression of romantic/lustful passion and the suppression of hunger/appetite and its application to Clarissa's anorexia. If less food consumption results in less passionate impulses, Clarissa is certainly mistress of her passions! Below on the left is an excerpt from "Of Pleasure" and on the right is an excerpt from "On Unchastity." I'm struck by the language of contagion the author ascribes to vices ("infection," "deformity"), as if mental transgressions can somehow translate to somatic manifestations.

Here's the link for the full "manual" for virgins:
The Virgin's Nosegay

No comments: