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Clarissa Harlowe.

Clarissa Harlowe

(1747 - 1748) An epistolary novel by Samuel Richardson, generally considered to be his masterpiece. Its original title is Clarissa, or, The History of a Young Lady. It is the longest novel in the English language, totaling about one million words. It is noted for its subtle and penetrating psychological treatment of character. Clarissa has been coldly commanded by her tyrannical family to marry Mr. Solmes, a man she despises. She refuses, even though it pains her to defy her parents. Locked in her room, isolated from family and friends, Clarissa corresponds secretly with Robert Lovelace, a suitor disapproved of by her family; she finally throws herself upon his protection and flees with him. It soon becomes clear to her, however, that Lovelace'ssole aim is to seduce her. Her virtue is so great that Lovelace becomes obsessively absorbed in breaking it down; convinced finally that she will never yield to him, he becomes desperate, drugs and rapes her. He then proposes marriage, but Clarissa refuses, retires to a solitary dwelling, and dies of grief and shame. Lovelace, whose heart the reader never really knows, is killed in a duel with Colonel Morden, Clarissa's cousin. Rousseau was greatly influenced by Clarissa Harlowe in his novel, Julie, ou La Nouvelle Heloise.

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Publication:Benet's Reader's Encyclopedia, 3rd ed.
Article Type:Reference Source
Date:Jan 1, 1987
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