These student papers are excellent though they are by no means perfect; they do have flaws. The most common are awkward or unclear phrasing, faulty syntax, a contradiction or a lapse in logic, faulty punctuation, and inconsistent use of verb tense. At the same time, all the writers show intelligence, critical acumen, and an understanding of the novel being analyzed. All the essays are persuasively argued, clearly written, and logically organized. None merely paraphrases or summarizes the action; rather, they interpret the action.

This said, I would also like to point out that there are differences among them, for instance, in the kind of topic chosen, the development of the idea, and the tone. Also, some writers show greater intellectual sophistication, and some have greater mastery over their prose.

When I read student papers, I am looking for

  • depth of insight into the novel,
  • independent thinking,
  • a well-organized, well reasoned, clearly written essay with almost no serious errors.
I am not looking for a particular interpretation–or my interpretation. Equally successful papers can be written to prove that (1) Crusoe’s conversion was heartfelt and profoundly changed him and his life, (2) his conversion was superficial and he fell away once he left the island, or (3) no definitive decision about the sincerity and depth of Crusoe’s conversion is possible because Defoe is ambiguous about it.

I have made three kinds of changes in transcribing the essays: corrected misspellings, added missing words, and added punctuation if meaning was confusing. Otherwise, the text of the essays is reproduced exactly as written.

Technical Notes:   I have added illustrations, where appropriate.

    Robinson Crusoe, Daniel Defoe

  • Robinson Crusoe--"True" or "Convenient" Convert?
              The writer defines his terms and thoroughly analyzes the topic.
  • "I Call Him Friday": The Epitome of the "Noble Savage" in Robinson Crusoe
              The thesis that Crusoe's relationship with Friday is condescending, Eurocentric, and abusive is persuasively argued.


    Clarissa, Samuel Richardson

  • The Character of Robert Lovelace
              In exploring the nature and consequences of Lovelace's pride and drive to power, this essay also analyzes his relationship with Clarissa.

  • Clarissa
              The discussion of how Richardson handles Clarissa's private life in a public way provides a sympathetic interpretation of Clarissa and insight into Richardson's moral values.

  • Pen and Ink
              Writing letters is not merely a narrative technique but reveals an essential part of Clarissa's nature.

    A Sicilian Romance, Ann Radcliffe

  • Deception and Disguise in A Sicilian Romance
              The accumulation of detail makes, finally, the device of deception and disguise the heart of the novel.

    Non-Eighteenth-Century Novels

  • Huck's Hero Journey (Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn)
              The writer applies Joseph Campbell's definition of the hero to Huck Finn to determine whether Huck is a hero. Her critical approach differs from that of the preceding essays, which focus just on the text of the novel.

  • The Verlocs at Their Final Encounter (Joseph Conrad, The Secret Agent)
              The writer focuses on a key scene, Winnie Verloc's murder of her husband, as a way into the novel. Using this scene, she is able to discuss the Verlocs' characterization, their relationship, theme, symbolism, and mood.


Often, one finds oneself in a difficult situation. Many times, the situation ia entirely caused by the individual, and therefore, easily understood. However, situations often arise that are not easily explainable. It is in these situations that many turn to religion for answers. Using religion to solve, or help solve problems, though, does not necessarily entail a "true conversion." Oftentimes, the individual becomes a transient or "convenient convert," whose faith lasts for the duration of the problem, and no longer. In Daniel Defoe's eighteenth century novel, Robinson Crusoe, Crusoe is faced with many problems. These problems force Crusoe to look to God for help. The reader is left to decide, though, as to whether Crusoe undergoes a "true" religious conversioin or whether he simply becomes "conveniently religious."

Crusoe makes his religious "conversion" while shipwrecked on a desolate island and mired in the throes of an ague. Upon awakening from a sleep, Crusoe recollects and reflects upon his past wicked life. Crusoe decides his detainment on the island is God's punishment for his past foolish life in which he had "not... the least sense ... of the fear of God in danger or of thankfulness to God in deliverances." Crusoe then remembers his father's warning that if he embarked on his "seaward journeys" God would not bless him. Realizing that he had rejected God's counsel in his father's advice, Crusoe says his first prayer,"Lord be my help, for I am in great distress." This marks the beginning of Crusoe's religious life, in which he draws hope for, his deliverance from the island.

Crusoe's faith in God has a positive function in his life on the deserted island. He Found hope in the words of God, manifested in his Bible. "Call on me in the day of trouble, and I will deliver, and thou shalt glorify me," are the words of Crusoe"s inspiration. Hope of deliverance gives Crusoe a reason to live. Instead of despairing about his situation, Crusoe, with the hope of eventual deliverance in the back of his mind, is able to make the best of his situation on the island. He puts his energy to use, instead of gloating about his situation, and he is able to "furnish himself with many things" by using raw materials an the island. On a deeper level, Crusoe's faith in God provided him with something even more urgently needed than hope.

Faith in God gave Crusoe a means through which to communicate his thoughts. Granted, God is an abstract entity, but God is an abstraction that requires belief or imagination, in order to exist as an abstraction. Through the communication of ideas and hopes, coupled with the mind power that was needed in order to conceptualize God, Crusoe's mind was therefore kept active. God kept Crusoe from insanity. Without God, Crusoe's loneliness probably would have "driven him over the edge." Crusoe's faith in God then, not only provided him with hope for deliverance, but God also functioned as an intangible "something" that functioned as a replacement for a tangible "Communicator" (person).

Crusoe's faith is dealt a severe blow, however, when Robinson discovers a man's footprint on the beach of "his" island. Fear raged through Crusoe's mind at the sight of the footprint. He wondered if the devil had contrived the image of a human's foot in order to scare him. Then, when reason sets in, Crusoe decides that the footprint must be the remnant of a cannibal tribe's visit to the island. He was terrified of the cannibals! In wake of this new found fear, Crusoe says:

..Fear banished all my religious hope, all that former confidence in God, which was founded upon such wonderful experience as I had of His goodness, now vanished.
Crusoe's faith seems to be "paper thin" here, and one must wonder about the validity of his conversion. Then, however, Crusoe accepts the "invasion" of his island as just punishment from God. Crusoe decides that "'twas my unquestioned duty to resign myself His will; ... and my duty to hope...pray...and attend to the dictates...of His providence."

Crusoe's resignation to the will of God does not necessarily mean that he has truly converted. His resignation could be interpreted as a final desperate effort to placate God. Crusoe certainly didn't want to anger God any more than he had already. Maybe Crusoe saw the foot-print as a temptation to abandon his faith (he already intimated the workings of the devil in creating the footprint). Therefore,when he resigns himself to God's will, Crusoe might be simply saying, "God, I don't want to anger you anymore, if you're even listening, and I'll accept this as part of my fate." Also, by accepting the footprint, and the possibility of "foreign cannibalistic invasion," as a work of God, and part of his fate, Crusoe frees himself from having to take any action. Once Crusoe resigns himself to God, he is happy, signifying a great load (worry, fear) having been lifted off his shoulders.

The next time that Crusoe uses his moral reasoning is not long after he sights the footprint on the beach. One day, Crusoe finds the beach littered with human bones, obviously the remnants of a cannibal feast. Crusoe abhors this sight, forgets about the cannibal's presence as being God's punishment for him, and decides to put an end to the cannibalistic feasting. He sets about making elaborate plans to murder some of the cannibals, all of them if necessary. Then however, Crusoe decides that he has no "authority ... to be judge and executioner" of the savages. Crusoe reasons that the cannibals had committed what he decided were crimes for so long and had gone unpunished by God so that HE the sinner)" had no right to harm them. This may signify the birth of Crusoe's morality, for the remainder of his detainment on the island. Through Friday, Crusoe fulfills an unwritten obligation to God. The words upon which Crusoe made his initial conversion, "Call upon me in the day of trouble, and I will deliver, and thou shalt glorify me," function as an agreement between God and Crusoe. Crusoe needed a companion and God furnished Friday. Crusoe responded to this by glorifying God's name to Friday; he converted Friday to Christianity.

This "contract" is merely a symbolic interpretation. Crusoe never explicitly mentions the already mentioned words of God as the motive for Friday's conversion, nor does he cite a contractual obligation to God. Maybe the fact that Crusoe DOESN'T mention an obligation or contract signifies that Crusoe actually DID undergo a very strong religious conversion while he was detained on the island. Now, perhaps Crusoe considers glorifying God "matter-of-fact." At any rate, Crusoe did convert Friday to Christianity and this conversion seems to have rested favorably with God. Not too long after, Friday is converted. God "delivers" Crusoe home, after Robinson had spent thirty-five years detained on the island.

Crusoe's behavior when he returns home is a testament of his religious ambivalence. It is evident that Crusoe is a changed man. However, he doesn't really attribute his change to God. As a matter of fact, God seems to have become a secondary factor in his life. Crusoe affirms his belief in God, and won't be shaken from his belief. This is evident in his selling of his plantation in Brazil. He sold it because he feared religious persecution. Brazil was in the midst of the Spanish Inquisition, and Crusoe had no intentions of converting from Protestant to Roman Catholicism in order to escape the Inquisition. Here, one sees Crusoe's belief in God, but what does this belief mean?

Does his belief mean faith and devotion to God? It appears not. When Crusoe arrives in England, he doesn't go to Church to thank God for his safe homecoming. He rather inquires about his financial situation. Crusoe is generous when he returns to England(he supports the widow), but how much of this generosity does Crusoe attribute to God's workings? None. Crusoe's "generosity motives" are clearly secular. He responds to kindness. Crusoe's actions aren't controlled by spiritual obligations. In short, it seems that Crusoe has gained a true, underlying belief in God through his experiences on the island, but that this belief becomes secondary to his own life once his detainment on the island is over.

Now, can one term Crusoe a "true convert"? Before he was detained on the island, Crusoe had no belief or fear of God. During his detainment on the island however, Crusoe "finds" God, and returns to England with a belief in God. In this sense, one can say that Crusoe has converted. Whereas he had no belief in God before he was detained on the island, Crusoe returns with a very strong belief, a belief that even caused him to sell his rich plantation. How far does this belief take Crusoe though? On the island, Crusoe set aside parts of every day in order to pray to God. Back in England however, Crusoe hardly communicates with God at all. By the end of the novel, the reader sees Crusoe returning to his old self. He ignores the warnings of the old widow and sets out to find "his" island. Even with a belief in God, then, Crusoe is ruled by impulse.

One can conclude then that Crusoe experienced a "partial" conversion. He is a convert in the sense that he at least gained a belief in God while detained on the island, but this is where the conversion ends. The remainder of the faith that Crusoe displayed while on the island evaporated once he returned back home. His faith on the island was convenient. Crusoe, in this case, is the epitome of the "convenient convert." His great faith and devotion to God expired once his problematic situation was alleviated. The combination of Crusoe's belief, but shallow faith in God, then, makes him a "Partial convert."


One of the most important relationships that exist in Daniel Defoe's Robinson Crusoe is that between Crusoe and Friday, the "savage" who becomes Crusoe's companion during his last few years on the island. Yet, notice that although I have termed Friday as being Crusoe's "companion,' I am using it in the strictest sense of the word. The use of the broader definition would imply the presence of comradery or the Christian idea of "Brotherly Love." To use this definition is impossible. One cannot truly love another as a brother when that other person is one's slave, which Friday apparently is. After all, Friday is not even worthy enough to call Crusoe by any other name but "Master." Not only is Friday a slave, but he fits into the category of the "Noble Savage," the cannibal that can be taught and trained how to be acceptable in Crusoe's world. Crusoe even presents Friday's physical appearance in a manner acceptable to his readers: he makes him seem European. Crusoe states that:
He had a very good countenance, not a fierce and surly aspect, but seemed to have something very manly in his face, and yet he had all the sweetness and softness of an European in his countenance too, especially when he smiled. His hair was long and black, not curled like wool; his forehead very high and large; ... The color of his skin was not quite black, but very tawny; and yet not of an ugly yellow, nauseous tawny, as the Brazilians and Virginians ... but of a bright kind of a dun olive colour that had in it something very agreeable, though not very easy to describe. His face was round and plump; his nose small, not flat like the Negroes', a very good mouth, thin lips, and his fine teeth well set, and white as ivory (Defoe, 203).
Crusoe "alters" Friday's appearance. Yes, his hair is black, but it is not curled like wool. Have no fear, no low brow here! He's "not quite" black -- he's TAWNY--tanned by the sun, and his facial features do not represent those of the Negroes either. Now that we have proven how physically acceptable Friday is, let us look at some of the even more "pleasing" aspects of his attitude.

Friday (if that's what your name really is) is a very complying man. He is given "truths" by Crusoe which he readily accepts. A perfect example can be found in the title of the nineteenth chapter--"I Call Him Friday." Yes, and that is just how it is: It is not "His Name is Friday" or "The Closest That I Can Come to Pronouncing His Tribal Name is Friday." Crusoe gives the name to the man, and the man does not object (at least as far as we know from what Crusoe tells us).

But, is this not how Crusoe deals with every barrier in their relationship? The way that things are to be done is Crusoe's way, not anyone else's. Crusoe teaches Friday English, but does learn any of Friday's language. Crusoe does not point to a goat and say "This is a goat" and then signal to Friday to say what it is called in his language. Crusoe points to a goat and says "This is a goat-- end of discussion." Crusoe even clothes Friday in his way. Crusoe's reason for the donning of clothes was that the sun shone too brightly on his unprotected white skin. Yet, Crusoe cannot let go of the social convention that one cannot go running around half naked--only SAVAGES do that. Friday is obviously comfortable and "protected" by his "tawny" skin in this environment, but Crusoe dresses him anyway in accordance with European convention.

An important aspect that Crusoe replaces of Friday's is his religion. He converts Friday to Christianity with the same explanation that are used by missionaries--that of Providence:

... I had not only been moved myself to look up to Heaven and to seek to the Hand that had brought me there, but was now to be made an instrument under Providence to save the life of, for aught I knew, the soul of a poor savage, and bring him to the true knowledge of religion, and of the Christian doctrine, that he might know Christ Jesus, to know who is life eternal ... (Defoe, 217)
As expected, Friday is only too willing to embrace his master's beliefs. He does so well that Crusoe even remarks on how "The savage was now a good Christian, a much better than I..." (Defoe, 217). But, perhaps the most important thing that Crusoe does (and the thing that I find the most terrible) is that he does not even see Friday's needs as relevant enough to mention. The best example of this is when they leave the island before Friday's father and the other shipwrecked European sailors return from Friday's island (Defoe, Chs.23,24). Crusoe never even stops to think of how this will affect Friday, and we never hear of Friday's opinion on the subject. I find it very hard to believe that he would forget about his father out of his "love" for his master, especially when we are shown how emotional he becomes upon finding his father on the island (Defoe, Ch.21).

Thus, I have a problem believing that all of Friday's compliancy to Crusoe is done out of love. I believe that there is an aspect of fear working as well. Let us go back to the scene in which Crusoe saves Friday from his captors. Crusoe states that:

The poor savage who fled, but had stopped, though he saw both his enemies fallen and killed, as he thought, yet was so frightened with the fire and noise of my piece, that he stood stock still and neither came forward or went backward, though he seemed rather inclined to fly still than to come on; I holloed again to him, and made signs to come forward, which he easily understood, and came a little way, then stopped again, ..and I could then perceive that he stood trembling, as if he had been taken prisoner, and had just been to be killed, as his two enemies were (Defoe, 200).
In a book entitled Marvelous Possessions: The Wonder of the New World, the author, Stephen Greenblatt, discusses how 11 ... the experience of the marvelous, central to both art and philosophy, was manipulated by Columbus and others to the service of colonial appropriation" (Greenblatt). One of Greenblatt's central themes and concerns is that of "wonder" and its effect. He states that:
A moderate measure of wonder is useful in that it calls attention to that which is "new or very different from what we formerly knew, or from what we supposed that it ought to be" and fixes it in the memory, but an excess of wonder is harmful, Descartes thought, for it freezes the individual in the face of objects whose moral character, whose capacity to do good or evil, has not yet been determined. That is, wonder precedes, even escapes, moral categories. When we wonder, we do not yet know if we love or hate the object at which we are marveling; we do not know if we should embrace it or flee from it(Greenblatt, 20).
The above citation expresses the predicament that Friday is in when he is saved by Crusoe. He is left in awe by the power of Crusoe's gun. Even Crusoe himself states that "... that which astonished him most was to know how I had killed the other Indian so far off ..." (Defoe, 201). To Friday, this is something that cannot be believed without going over to the man and seeing the bullet hole for himself. He stands like " ... one amazed, looking at him, turned him first on one side, then on t'other..." (Defoe, 201).

This reaction of Friday's parallels once again with Greenblatt when he states that:

Wonder--thrilling, potentially dangerous, momentarily immobilizing, charged at once with desire, ignorance, and fear--is the quintessential human response to what Descartes calls a "first encounter" (p.358). Such terms, which recur in philosophy from Aristotle through the seventeenth century, made wonder an almost inevitable component of the discourse of discovery, for by definition wonder is an instinctive recognition of difference, the sign of a heightened attention, "a sudden surprise of the soul," as Descartes puts it (p. 362), in the face of the new. The expression of wonder stands for all that cannot be understood, that can scarcely be believed. It calls attention to the problem of credibility and at the same time insists upon the undeniability, the exigency of the experience (Greenblatt, 20).
I feel that Crusoe's "power" cannot be believed by Friday because he has no explanation for it. For all he knows, Crusoe could be a god. I feel that Friday bows to Crusoe not only out of love for saving his life, but out of the fear that Crusoe can take it away as mysteriously as he did the lives of his captors.

So could it, be possible that Crusoe has misinterpreted the "signs" that Friday has given him? or, at least, misinterpreted the motives behind them? Crusoe states that:

... I smiled at him and looked pleasantly and beckoned to him to come still nearer; at length he came close to me, and then he kneeled down again, kissed the ground, and laid his head upon the ground, and taking me by the foot, set my foot upon his head: this, it seems, was in token of swearing to be my slave forever (Defoe, 200).
According to Greenblatt, "... charades or pantomimes depend upon a shared gestural language that can take the place of speech" (Greenblatt, 89) . Even though I too saw Friday's bowing as an act of subservience, I thought of a couple of different meanings that it could have. It could have meant "I am indebted to you forever" or "I will love you forever." Owing someone your life does not necessarily mean that you are to be their "slave forever," as Crusoe seems to believe. Crusoe never once considers that Friday could be his "friend forever." He cannot even think of a non-European in those terms.

Thus, I apply the term of "Noble Savage" to Friday, as represented by Crusoe. Is that not the perfect way of presenting Friday to his readers without causing their dismay? Is not the "Christianizing" of Friday also one of Crusoe's crowning achievements on the island? Another one of his projects to keep his mind off of things? This may be so, but we will never know for sure because we have never seen anything from Friday's point of view. After all, everything else is done Crusoe's way or it is not done at all--so why should the telling of this story be any different?


Works Cited

Defoe, Daniel. Robinson Crusoe. Signet Classic: New York, 1960.

Greenblatt, Stephen. Marvelous Possessions: The Wonder of the New World. University of Chicago, 1991.



      Robert Lovelace is a man who is used to getting what he wants. He has been brought up "not to know what contradiction or disappointment is" and he has managed to avoid them throughout much of his life. Lovelace was a very strong ego and a need for power and domination. He needs to know he can control anything or anyone in any situation he finds himself in. The only thing he can not control is himself. The desire to always have his own way occasionally drives him to recklessness. He cannot stop himself when pursuing something he wants. He usually gets it.

      Lovelace is a charming, attractive man of wealth and status. He is well respected in society, despite his reputation as a libertine. He behaves honorably in his dealings with men and is trustworthy in money matters. Even his enemy, James Harlowe, admits that Lovelace is "a generous landlord" who looks after his own estate. It is only when it comes to women that he is dishonorable, and many people are willing to overlook this. Lovelace comes from a very highly regarded family, and they do not denounce him because of his behavior. In fact they are often amused by his escapades. Lovelace entertains his ailing uncle with his tales of seduction, and his female cousins who are in attendance also enjoy them. Even after the tragedy of Clarissa, when Lovelace is preparing to go abroad, his uncle says affectionately, "We shall miss the wild fellow."

      Seduction is Lovelace's greatest pleasure in life and his main goal is to sleep with as many women as he can. He does it not for sensual pleasure, but for the challenge, the excitement, the power he feels in being able to break down a woman's defenses. Lovelace believes that all human beings have an animal, sexual nature. He views female modesty and decorum as something superficial, a false persona that society forces on a woman in opposition to her true nature. Lovelace's aim is to break down the barrier of virtue and prove his theory that "once subdued, always subdued." He does not believe any woman possesses genuine virtue, "for what woman can be said to be virtuous till she has been tried?" All the women that Lovelace has tried he has conquered.

      The way Lovelace speaks of his affairs and of women reveals his contempt for "the sex," as he calls them. He thinks he has women completely figured out, and he sees "such a perverseness in the sex." He says "they lay a man under a necessity to deal double with them." Lovelace distrusts women. He feels he must play games and plot because they are doing the same thing, and he can never be outwitted. When Lovelace speaks of his affairs with women, his language is often that of hunting, or even warfare. "I love, when I dig in a pit, to have my prey tumble in with secure feet and open eyes, then look down upon her." He compares the capture of a woman's virtue to the capture of a bird, saying, "both perhaps experience our sportive cruelty." And once the chase is over and the conquest has been made, Lovelace feels the need to go on to the next challenge, bored with the woman he ruined. He exclaims to Belford, "O Jack! What devils are women when all tests are over, and we have completely ruined them!"

      Lovelace sees Clarissa as the ultimate challenge because of her exquisite beauty and excellent virtue. She is considered by many to be the perfect woman, held out as an exemplar to her sex. For him to reveal to her, and to himself, that underneath all her goodness and decorum she is merely a woman like any other, would be to him the greatest victory of all. Lovelace asks, "Will it not be to my glory to succeed? And to hers, and to the honor of her sex, if I cannot? Where will be the hurt to make the trial?" A self-proclaimed marriage-hater, Lovelace nevertheless says he will marry if he cannot sleep with her without benefit of marriage. But he intends to try everything possible before he will consider this step.

      What Lovelace wants is to possess Clarissa body and soul, to make her wholly his, "for she can be no one else's." However, he underestimates Clarissa's will to belong to no one but herself. Clarissa is the exception to his rules. Her strength, her will, and her sense of self match his. What starts out as a game soon escalates into a fierce power struggle. Lovelace insists that she must admit her love for him, say that she wants to marry him, let down her guard with him. This violates Clarissa's nature, she can never do what he asks. For her, decorum is not a mask, it is a basic part of her, and she cannot do something so much against her nature. Lovelace vows "her haughtiness shall be brought down to own both love and obligation to me."

      Clarissa knows she cannot trust Lovelace, that she cannot give in to him on anything. The inflexibility of her punctilio is her protection. But this inflexibility infuriates Lovelace and causes him to become more ruthless and determined in his schemes. He takes a drug that makes him sick in order to gain her sympathy. He uses the occasion of a fire in the middle of the night to frighten and disconcert her, and to gain the opportunity to get close to her while she is not fully dressed. The failure of these tricks only makes Lovelace more obstinate, and he demands, "How, having proceeded thus far, could I stop?" Adding fuel to the fire are the whores at the brothel where he is keeping Clarissa. They taunt him and goad him, and ego will not let him stand it. He does not want to seem weak or foolish in anyone's eyes.

      Clarissa's first escape pushes Lovelace over the edge. His true obsessions and lack of self- control are revealed. He will do anything to get Clarissa back under his control. He hunts her down frantically, and he tells Belford that it has now come down to "Who shall most deceive the other?" Lovelace will stop at absolutely nothing now, and his schemes become more elaborate and diabolical. He disguises himself, forges letters, and produces phony relatives in an effort to imprison her again. Through it all, Lovelace blames Clarissa for "contriving to rob me of the dearest property I had ever purchased." He vows, "my sworn revenge (adore her as I will) is uppermost in my heart."

      Lovelace's revenge is to drug and rape Clarissa. He admits "there's no triumph over the will in force, but have I not tried every other method?" He has tried her virtue and found it to be sincere and pure, but he is in such a frenzy, he has driven the stakes so high, that he cannot possibly allow himself to admit defeat. That would mean that his whole belief system is wrong, that his life is based on a lie, and he cannot face that. "Let me perish if she escape me now." Lovelace still clings to the belief that Clarissa will be subdued, and is convinced that he can make everything right by marrying her.

      However, though Clarissa is physically defeated, her will and her spirit cannot be broken. She would never consent to marry someone who abused her and robbed her of her dignity. Lovelace cannot understand this, and he is too self-centered to try. He says "she has but met the fate of a thousand others," and cries, "I suffer a thousand times more than ever I made her suffer."

      Clarissa's final escape is death, which she chooses as her only alternative after all she has been through. But even this tragedy cannot truly change Lovelace. His pride, his will, and his obsession to possess Clarissa persist up to and after her death, and even cause his own. He wants to marry her on her death bed, although she was in agony." And after her death he insists "nobody will dispute my right to her." Lovelace's wish to keep her heart in a jar "preserved in spirits" shows just how perverse and obsessed he can be.

      Lovelace does express regret and sorrow for what he has done, but it is doubtful he ever realizes the true evilness of it, or the real horror he put Clarissa through. But the full knowledge of what he has lost and why he has lost it make life too much for Lovelace to bear, and he says, "I have been lost to myself and to all the joys of life." However, his pride has not been lost, and this is what leads him to the fatal duel with Clarissa's cousin Morden. When Lovelace hears that Morden has been talking of revenge for Clarissa's death, his reaction is "I am as much convinced that I have done wrong as he can be, and regret as much. But I will not bear to be threatened by any man, however conscious I may be of deserving blame." Lovelace dies with Clarissa's name on his lips. His death is inevitable because he could not have lived without Clarissa. I believe he might have loved her, if his nature would have allowed it.


      Clarissa is a personal story about a young woman who is in conflict with her family because of her opposing their insistence upon her marrying Solmes, a man whom she detests. As a direct consequence of her failure to yield to their increasing pressure and urgency, poor Clarissa gives in to the temptation of running off with Lovelace as her only viable means of escape from a life of unhappiness. Unfortunately, this action leads her not to freedom from oppression, but to yet another battle of wills, which has dire consequences for her. She falls victim to his greedy, selfish passion to conquer her through his vile rape and suffers a subsequent decline in health, ending in her untimely death. This utterly personal story is made public due to the elevated regard for Clarissa by all who knew her personally and even those who only knew her by reputation, as a model of the perfect, dutiful daughter, the epitome of goodness, purity and punctilio, representing the ideal young woman. In creating this work, Richardson used the element of publicity to help convey his own ideas that morality is not just a personal issue, but a public one as well.

      In the very first letter, the reader becomes aware through Anna Howe's letter to Clarissa thata dispute between Clarissa's brother and Clarissa's prospective suitor, which should be a privatefamily matter, has become a topic of public discussion. Anna says, "I know how it must hurtyou to become the subject of the public talk ... but that whatever relates to a young lady, whosedistinguished merits have made her the public care, should engage everybody's attention."

      Public figures become well known because they are extraordinary in some way. Most of the characters in Clarissa represent extremes, displaying characteristics through which they create reputations for themselves. Clarissa is renowned for her virtue and goodness; everyone regards her as the perfect young daughter, a model for her sex. Lovelace is infamous for his dalliances with women; he is a known rake. People's images are important to them. Everyone tries to keep up his image because images help define a person's conceptions of himself as a human being; a tainted reputation would damage one's sense of pride.

      Both Clarissa and Lovelace are proud, opposing beliefs about what constitutes the ideal male/female relationship. Both adhere to their own personal views of the social code; Clarissa represents the puritanical, conventional mode of social conduct, while Lovelace represents the more liberal attitude of the aristocracy. Though they are attracted to each other, they have opposite philosophies about sex. Lovelace feels that once he possesses her physically, she will be forever under his spell, happy to be with him; all he has to do is free her animal nature, which he believes existent in all women underneath the polished facades created by society. Clarissa sees her virtue as tantamount to her honour, the core of her spiritual identity. When Lovelace fails to win her over to his way of thinking through his charm, he resorts to villainous force and rapes her, totally disregarding her pitiful pleas to leave her alone. From that point on, Clarissa despises him with a passion, refusing to listen to advice from Anna or anyone else to marry him. After his heinous betrayal of her honor and her trust, she never wants him near her again.

      When Clarissa tells Anna, "I could have loved him," I have the impression that at least part of her anguish stems from her bitterness in that she did actually love him at one point. Because she had loved him, this made his offense even more horrific and unacceptable to her mentally, so that she loathed him with a venom and could never forgive him, despite anything she says to the contrary. Also, I think that part of her anger has to be self-directed due to her own misjudgment of his character. Her sense of having been physically and psychologically violated so cruelly to the core of her being by the man she loved, her subsequent loathing of him and her anger at herself for ever loving such a man prove to be very detrimental to her health. She may even continue to feel love for him in spite of her deep anger, resentment and loathing of his odious behavior, creating an anguished, divided mind.

      It is no wonder that she goes into such a physical decline after the trauma of being raped. She had already been feeling extreme unhappiness and a sense of betrayal due to her family's unreasonable demands that she marry a man she abhors. She is very young, only eighteen going on nineteen years old, and has been used to being treated well by her family in the past. She always went along with her parents' wishes before, but never before were the stakes so high. To go along with their wishes on this issue would mean sacrificing any chance for her own future happiness. To Clarissa, this would be a fate worse than death.

      Several times in the book, she mentions that she would rather die than be married to a man she despises. She tells her family that she would rather never marry at all, but would choose to remain single instead of marrying Solmes. She promises to give the family the dairy which was bequeathed to her by her grandfather, all to no avail. They are resolute in their insistence that she comply to their wishes. Her mother, who used to tell Clarissa that she was "all her joy," does not come to her defense, but gives in to her husband's unreasonableness. When on p. 31 Clarissa says to her mother, "Thus are my good qualities to be made my punishment; and I am to be wedded to a monster," Mrs. Harlowe answers, "Astonishing!Can this, Clarissa, be from you?" Clarissa responds, "The man, madam, person and mind, is a monster in my eye." Any sensible, normal, loving parents would not submit their young daughter to such a dismal fate as to force her into such a hateful life. But her mother is in an unhappy marriage herself, where she has sacrificed her own individuality because it is easier to just go along with her husband and keep the peace. Her mother fails to come to her aid. Also, Mrs. Harlowe feels that she must present a united front with her husband to maintain the impression that all is well within the family for the sake of public scrutiny.

      Clarissa is the only member of her family who does not appear to be afflicted with greed. Material things are unimportant to her; she is more spiritually oriented. The rest of the Harlowes consider wealth and prestige so important that they have devised a plan to raise their family's social and economic status. The two uncles have agreed never to marry, so that they could leave the bulk of their wealth to their nephew when they die, thus giving him an opportunity to marry up into the aristocracy. Since they would be dead anyway, how could it matter to them if the family becomes upwardly mobile? The answer is that "the family" is important to them, and how they are seen in the public eye is crucial.

      Although they are already a solid, wealthy, upper middle class family, they are not content with this position. The public social climate of the time seems to foster an upward-mobility mentality which the Harlowes swallow hook, line, and sinker with little regard for personal happiness, especially concerning Clarissa. They are ready to "sell" Clarissa off to Solmes, the highest bidder, who in turn is willing to pay lots of money to her family for the privilege of marrying up in social status himself. The fact that Clarissa finds him totally revolting is irrelevant to them. Were it not for this generally accepted practice to seek higher social status, there would be no reason to inflict this marriage on Clarissa.

      But there is more to it than this. Clarissa's brother and sister are jealous of her since she is the one who received the grandfather's estate. Clarissa has always been the one of the children who has been loved and admired by everyone in the community, who see her as a pure and precious pearl of a child, the ideal young woman and daughter. They talk about her already having "out-grandfathered us" (p.24) and worry that maybe other relatives will also bequeath their fortunes to her rather than themselves. Their family "plan" could be in danger. James puts pressure on his father to marry Clarissa off for a large sum of money to help the family acquire wealth. Since Lovelace is in a higher social class as the Harlowes, it would not be economically in their favor to approve Clarissa's marriage to him; he would not pay them exorbitant fees for the "Privilege."

      Due to their concern for what amounts to their seeking public approval through higher family status, Clarissa's parents fail in their duties to their youngest child by abusing their authority to the point of trying to force her into a hateful marriage. Clarissa, heretofore an exceedingly dutiful daughter, does not even insist that she choose her own husband, only that she be allowed veto power. But this is denied her. For Clarissa, this creates an irreconcilable inner conflict, as she is very uncomfortable with defying her parents, but at the same time refuses to sacrifice herself to a life of unhappiness. When she runs off with Lovelace, it is in pursuit of self- preservation; she is running for her life. But she is absolutely mortified and devastated when she receives the curse from her father.

      It is this horrendous treatment she receives through the hands of her family and by the cruel Lovelace that cause her to become ill. Yet, though she becomes physically weak, spiritually, she seems to be getting stronger. It is as though as her body deteriorates, her spirit becomes elevated. Richardson manages to enhance this effect by making her illness and her death very public. Through Belford, she is able to orchestrate the details concerning her will and last requests in preparation of her death. Knowing that she is dying and welcoming it, one of her chief concerns is setting the record straight about her experience with Lovelace. She is determined to clear and preserve her reputation and goes to great lengths to do this, even so far as to have Belford obtain copies of Lovelace's letters alluding to her innocence.

      Even in thinking about her own death, her image is paramount to her, her passion for decorum apparent in her wearing pure white garments as if she were an expectant happy bride, but also symbolic of a sacrificial lamb, awaiting death with open arms, longing to be laid in her waiting coffin. Friends and family visit her at her deathbed, observing her as being not just good and pure, but as a manifestation of a heavenly angel, a saint here on earth. Servants come forward for a last blessing by her. Clarissa is still worried about her father's curse and wishes him to retract it. When she talks to her doctor, she expresses concern that her coming death not implicate suicidal desire. She asks the doctor if she has taken everything she should to combat death. Her image is everything to her; it must remain unblemished. It is important to her what people will think of her, even after her death.

      Approaching death, Clarissa seems to become ever more peaceful, as she realizes that this is the best, perhaps the only, acceptable solution to her agonizing ordeal of the last eleven months. She must realize that everyone sees her as an innocent victim to her family's obsession for the acquisition of wealth, and Lovelace's obsession to possess her. Her innocence apparent, she comes out smelling like roses , but her death gives her power, power to achieve passive revenge on the perpetrators of her acute unhappiness. It is poetic justice that Lovelace also undergoes a rapid decline in health and dies a miserable death after having defiled Clarissa, a paradigm of virtue. It is also poetic justice that as Clarissa's family abused her through want of public approval through their quest for wealth and status, they would henceforth suffer severe public disapproval for their ill treatment of such an extraordinary virtuous daughter, paying for their crimes with the shame of never again being able to hold their heads up, scorned for the rest of their earthly days.

      Although morality involves personal choices, one's actions can have public ramifications of great magnitude, not just personal ones. People do not live in a vacuum. It seems that Richardson wanted to present a message that actions have consequences and affect others, sometimes precipitating unpredictable, dire, irreconcilable outcomes. I believe that he felt that everyone has a personal as well as a social obligation to act in morally responsible ways, and that a breach of moral conduct and abusing one's position by inflicting pain on others is deserving of public condemnation.


      Of all the attachments set forth in Samuel Richardson's Clarissa, perhaps none is stronger than that of the heroine to her writing implements. She takes great care to possess these, partly because she has to--she knows her parents may at any time seek to obstruct her by taking them away--and part!y because she is just that kind of person; she will always have pen and ink with her because she is always writing.

      Near the beginning of the story she describes the measures she takes to persist in this, her vocation; on April 5 she relates to Miss Howe:

I must write as I have opportunity; making use of my concealed stores: for my pens and ink (all of each that they could find) are taken from me; as I shall tell you more particularly by and by (1).

Further in the same letter she reports Betty, the maid, as saying, "I must carry down your pen and ink"; this is followed by her cousin Dolly's regretfully insisting, "...You must--indeed you must--deliver to Betty--or to me--your pen and ink" (2). Thus it is established early on that Clarissa's writing tools are not only, in her parents' eyes, instruments of her insubordination, but, in the eyes of the reader, they become symbols of her dedication to writing. Nothing can separate her from them, nor will she ever allow herself, except in moments of utmost duress, to be without the means, and the will, to use them.

      For Clarissa's captors (first her parents, and later Lovelace), her writing becomes a focus of their inability to control her completely. Shortly after her pens and ink are confiscated, her aunt tells her that the family is convinced that "you still find means to write out of the house."(3) Later, Lovelace determines that she will not be fully in his power without his being able to monitor her correspondence; of the letters between Clarissa and Anna Howe he writes (on May 8, to Belford):

     I must, I must come at them. This difficulty augments my curiosity. Strange, so much as she writes, and at all hours, that not one sleepy or forgetful moment has offered in our favour (4).

Clarissa, ever vigilant of her most prized activity, of course suspects and even anticipates Lovelace's designs. On April 26 she warns Miss Howe:

      Mr. Lovelace is so full of his contrivances and expedients, that I think it may not be amiss to desire you to look carefully to the seals of my letters, as I shall to those of yours (5).

Her wariness here does not prevent Lovelace from successfully interfering, but it does demonstrate her determination to protect her writing.

      Her primary determination, to be engaged in the act of writing itself, is manifest in numerous passages. On April 20, she observes to Miss Howe, "Indeed, my dear, I know not how to forbear writing. I have now no other employment or diversion" (6). To Mrs. Judith Norton she avers, "I will write. But to whom is my doubt" (7). When it is suggested that she should share a bed with Miss Partington, who will wait up with Dorcas until Clarissa is done writing, she replies that "...Miss Partington should be welcome to my whole bed, and I would retire into the dining-room, and there, locking myself in, write all the night" (8).

      This last statement reminds us that essential to the writer's vocation is the condition of solitude, for which Clarissa displays a like determination. "The single life," she observes on July 23 to Miss Howe, "...has offered to me, as the life, the only life, to be chosen" (9). The next day Lovelace reports to Belford:

The lady shut herself up at six o'clock yesterday afternoon, and intends not to see company till seven or eight this; not even her nurse--imposing upon herself a severe fast. And why? It is her BIRTHDAY! (10).

Thus there is no greater present that Clarissa can give to herself than solitude--and the opportunity to write.

      When Mrs. Howe forbids her daughter to receive further letters, Miss Howe over-rules her mother, saying, "But be assured that I will not dispense with your writing to me. My heart, my conscience, my honour, will not permit it" (11). Clarissa, in response, declares:

I forego every other engagement, I suspend every wish, I banish every other fear, to take up my pen, to beg of you that you will not think of being guilty of such an act of Love as I can never thank you for; but must for ever regret. If I must continue to write to you, I must (12).

It appears that the regret expressed here is simply for defying the parental authority of Mrs. Howe; Clarissa regrets not at all Miss Howe's insistence on continuing to receive her letters. And, incidentally, Mrs. Howe seems to have ambivalent feelings about cutting off Clarissa's correspondence. Near the end Anna writes:

You are, it seems (and that too much for your health), employed in writing. I hope it is in penning down the particulars of your tragical story. And my mother has put me in mind to press you to it, with a view that one day, if it might be published under feigned names, it would be of as much use as honour to the sex. My mother says [...] she would be extremely glad to have her advice of penning your sad story complied with (13).

Evidently, whatever apprehensions Mrs. Howe has about the corrupting influence of Clarissa upon her daughter are overcome by an eagerness not to miss out on what Clarissa will write. Clarissa's reputation as a writer is widespread. Lord M. comments to Lovelace, "... for I am told that she writes well, and that all her letters are full of sentence" (14). After she escapes Lovelace, he complains to Belford, "I have no doubt, wherever she has refuged, but her first work was to write to her vixen friend" (15). Even Arabella jealously admits the power of her sister's prose, beginning a letter (just a month before Clarissa's death) as follows:

Sister Clary,--I wish you would not trouble me within any more of your letters. You had always a knack at writing; and depended upon making every one do what you would when you wrote (16).

      Clarissa maintains her output until the very end, despite the difficulty it gives her. Belford reports on August 28 to Lovelace, "Mrs. Lovick told me that she had fainted away on Saturday, while she was writing, as she had done likewise the day before" (17). The day before she dies, Clarissa is too weak to hold a pen, but she dictates to Mrs. Lovick what will be her last letter, for Miss Howe: "Although I cannot obey you, and write with my pen, yet my heart writes by hers" (18).

      It is tempting if not entirely justifiable to see Clarissa as representing somewhat the writer's condition. Besieged by the interfering forces of family, suitors, and society, hailed as a paragon and regarded as an oddity, abused, exploited, and made to suffer numerous hardships, she nevertheless manages to demonstrate stamina and perseverance in her chosen form of expression, her art.

      It is doubtful, however, that this was Richardson's intention. He wanted Clarissa to represent moral, not literary, virtue. Her prolific letter-writing is simply a by-product of circumstance--what the situation demands--as well as an expedient for telling the story in epistolary form.

      This is too bad, for otherwise her writing might have saved her. Richardson must have had a grudge with the world, and decided to show that Clarissa was too good for it. He let death stop her; he had her, in effect, choose to die. But if Clarissa was what she seems, if she was as attached to her vocation as she shows herself to be, would she have done this? Could her troubles have killed her? No matter how ill and dispirited she was, might she not have endured simply to avoid relinquishing her pen and ink?


(1) Page 110. This and the following page references are from Samuel Richardson, Clarissa, or The History of a Young Lady, abridged and edited by George Sherburn, (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, Riverside Editions, 1962).
(2) Page 111.
(3) Page 124.
(4) Page 215.
(5) Page 197.
(6) Page 181.
(7) Page 345, from letter of July 6.
(8) Page 206, from letter or May 1.
(9) Page 393.
(10) Page 397.
(11) Page 207, from letter of May 3.
(12) Page 208, May 4.
(13) Page 407, letter of July 28.
(14) Page 247, letter of May 23.
(15) Page 277, letter of June 8.
(16) Page 420, August 3.
(17) Page 440.
(18) Page 467, September 6.


by Ann-Marie Henry-Stephens

      In naming her novel A Sicilian Romance, Ann Radcliffe may have attempted to deliberately deceive her readers by disguising the artistic complexities of this novel with its simple title. This novel is full of intrigue, suspense, tyranny, drama and villainy. It allows the reader to experience emotions ranging from fear and disgust to love and sympathy. Like the many characters who get lost in the recesses of the castle, the forests, the monastery, the ruined buildings, and the Sicilian landscape, so too do the readers get lost to the outside world when engaged in the plots and sub-plots of this novel. The Gothic elements( the haunted castle, the possible supernatural presence, the decay, and the dark gloomy environs) used in the novel help to enhance its richness and mysteriousness. The characters themselves are the most intriguing, for they embody the deceitfulness and the disguises which force the readers to want to discover all that lies behind the walls of the Mazzini castle.
      Ferdinand, fifth marquis of Mazzini, a ruthless, tyrannical leader, heartless father, and cruel husband (to his first wife Louisa Bernini) was the personification of deceit. He had power, and he used it mercilessly and arrogantly. He ruled by overpowering, threatening, lying to, and manipulating others. When he met and fell in love with Maria de Vellerno, he sought to get rid of the woman he was already married to, without care for her or for her children. He imprisoned the ailing Louisa in the southern wing of the castle and then told everyone that she was dead. The marquis further compounded his deception by holding a funeral for Louisa "with all the pomp" due to her rank. He enlisted the help of a servant, Vincent, who was totally dependent on and in awe of him, to carry out his plans. In relating the story of her imprisonment Louisa said of him, "My prayers, my supplications, were ineffectual; the hardness of his heart repelled my sorrows back upon myself; and as no entreaties could prevail upon him to inform me where I was, or his reasons for placing me here, I remained for many years ignorant of my vicinity to the castle, and of the motive of my confinement" (177). In fact, the marquis never told the marchioness why she was being held, and she only gained this information through the 'softening' of Vincent's heart.

      The marquis' deceitfulness knew no boundaries, for he went on to commit further acts that would allow him to go undetected. He shut up the southern section of the castle, left his daughters in the care of Madame de Menon, a dear friend of his first wife, and went to live in Naples with his son and new wife for many years. After the death of Vincent and his subsequent return to the castle, he still tried to cover his tracks. When Madame, the girls and the servants saw lights appear in and heard sounds emitting from the southern section of the castle, he dismissed their claims as, "the weak and ridiculous fancies of women and servants..."(14). Later on, when his son Ferdinand went to him with similar claims, he chose to attack his mind and manhood. When Ferdinand persisted in his claims, his father added to the mountain of lies, by telling him that the building was haunted by the ghost of Henry della Campo, a rival of his (the marquis') grandfather, who had been killed there many years ago. Ferdinand was deceived, for he believed his father's story, especially since the marquis claimed that he himself had witnessed the horror of seeing the ghost. The marquis also sought to deceive his superstitious and fearful servants, by taking them to the southern section and showing them fallen stones, which he claimed to be the cause of the sounds coming from that part of the castle. He made sure to stop short of where his wife was hidden. They, however, were not placated by his explanation.

      The marquis was an ambitious man and did not hesitate to use whatever or whoever he could to achieve his ambitions. When the Duke de Luovo asked for his daughter Julia's hand in marriage, the marquis saw an opportunity for himself there and consented to the marriage solely on selfish grounds. He saw this marriage as a chance to gain more "wealth, honor and distinction" (56). He also saw a chance, at Julia's expense and through the duke's means, to "involve himself in the interests of the state" (188). The marquis sought to deceive the Duke also, for after Julia succeeded in running away from the castle and her nuptials, the marquis "carefully concealed from him her prior attempt at elopement, and her consequent confinement," thereby enraging the duke whose pride was wounded by the insult. They quarreled, but subsequently made up, allowing the marquis to gain a strong ally in his endeavors.

      The Duke de Luovo was very much like the marquis in character. He loved power, and he exercised it at the expense of everyone. He had a violent temper and a very high opinion of himself and his authority. He pretended to care deeply for Julia, when he was really only interested in acquiring her because of her beauty. Once she revealed her true feelings to him, he was humiliated and inflamed so, with her father's consent, sought to have her anyway. After her flight he pursued her mercilessly, simply because his passion for her "was heightened by the difficulty which opposed it." Julia was just an object of his desire and his pride.

      The duke had another thing in common with the marquis; he too had a child who had run away from him. His son, Riccardo, had run away from him many years before, and he had never been able to find him. When he finally did encounter him, he was surprised to find him disguised as a banditti. Ricardo, after running away from his father, "had placed himself at the head of a party of banditti, and, pleased with the liberty which till then he had never tasted, and with the power which his new situation afforded him," was a contented young man (88). He knew that as a member of the nobility, if at any time he chose to shed this disguise and resume his rank, it could be accomplished with minimal explanations and scrutiny. His father's pride was devastated, and so he wished his son dead.

      The true characters of "the men of the cloth" in this novel were curiously hidden from the world outside their monasteries. On his journey to find Julia, the duke encountered a monastery full of rowdy friars and a drunken Superior, whom he was initially told were "engaged in prayer," when he sought refuge at their gate. The Abate, at the abbey of St. Augustin, was another disguised individual. He used his position and authority to control those around him, and to seek revenge on those who opposed him. He was not the benevolent character that one would expect to find in his position. He used his power to defy Julia's father and he reveled in it. He accused Julia of using "the disguise of virtue" to gain his protection, but he instead tried to use her fear, her naivete, and her desperate situation to force her to become a nun.

      The "fairer sex" was equally deceptive, but their reasons, for the most part, were based on love and self-preservation. Julia deceived her father not out of malice, but because of fear for the life she would have to live and because of her love for Hippolitus. She also deceived her sister Emilia, because of her love for her and her need to protect her from the marquis. Julia's deceptiveness was not only in her actions, but in her character, for she appeared to be a fragile girl who fainted or cried at every unbearable thought or deed, but she was in fact a very strong woman. She openly defied her father, fully aware of the consequences of her actions. She spent a very long time on the run, never really giving up hope, and never returning to her father. She was determined never to give in. A weaker woman might have returned home or committed suicide, rather than live through her experiences, but Julia never entertained those thoughts. She, however, found a woman like herself, who had made certain choices in her life, but this woman was not able to live with her choices.

      Cordelia, Hippolitus' sister, was in many ways disguising herself as a nun. She had decided to "take the veil," but her heart was not in her vows. She was still very much in love with an earthly presence, Angelo. She may have succeeded in deceiving those around her, but she could not deceive herself, hence her early demise.

      The supreme mask was worn by Maria de Mazzini, the wife of the marquis. This woman was able to blind her shrewd and devoted husband. She was a beautiful woman, with an explosive temper, a mean, jealous spirit, and the capacity to manipulate. Her strong desire to have Hippolitus, and her intense jealousy of Julia, drove her to encourage the marriage of Julia and the Duke de Luovo. She also succeeded in having Madame de Menon leave in order to save her reputation with her husband. She wrongfully assumed that the Madame possessed the same spiteful quality that she had. If anything, the marchioness was the marquis' one weakness. She did not really love him, for a woman like that could only truly love herself. She was able to convince him of her devotion to him, even though she had had numerous affairs while being married to him. She carried on these affairs right under his very nose, but was never suspected by him. When he finally discovered her treachery, via a servant, being so blinded by his feelings for her, he was not able to carry out his initial plan of killing her. He, instead, chose to reprimand her and this she used against him. She committed suicide, left a note blaming him for her act, and informed him of his own impending death by her hand. She had been able to deceive him one last time, when she poisoned his drink during their dinner the evening before.

      The author's biggest deceptive device though was the Mazzini castle, the focal point of the mystery. This building served as perfect cover for the characters, their actions, and the secrets within it. The walls were able to hide much of what went on within them. The castle hid information from the characters and from the readers. Madame de Menon, Julia, Emilia, Ferdinand, and the servants did not know what was responsible for the noises and lights in the southern section. The children did not know that their mother was alive and living so close to them. Ferdinand was not aware that as he was languishing in the dungeon, his mother was within a stone's throw. Maria de Mazzini did not know about the first marchioness. The marquis did not know that Maria was having affairs right there in the castle. He was not aware of her deceptiveness and her true character, which enabled him to be killed by her. He was not able to prevent Julia's escape from the castle and he was not aware of her return to it. This castle was the ultimate mask, for the readers never really see all of it and so cannot fully perceive all of its secrets, and so it retains its air of mystery till the very end of the story.

Work Cited

      Radcliffe, Ann. A Sicilian Romance. New York: Oxford, 1993.

Huck Finn's Hero Journey

by Janet House

      In his book The Hero With a Thousand Faces, Joseph Campbell sets forth his theory that there is a monomyth which underlies all folk tales, myths, legends and even dreams.* Reflected in the tales of all cultures, including Chinese, Hindu, American Indian, Irish and Eskimo, this monomyth takes the form of a physical journey which the protagonist (or hero) must undergo in order to get to a new emotional, spiritual and psychological place. The monomyth is a guide which integrates all of the forces of life and provides a map for living.
      Campbell breaks down the cycle into three main stages: departure, initiation and return. Within these three stages are five to six steps through which the hero moves. First, the hero must leave his world and undertake a journey into an unknown world, in effect losing himself and descending into death. Next, he undergoes a series of tests, assisted by various helpers, which can be very dangerous and threatening. These tests serve as guideposts in his journey, and from each the hero learns something which helps to move him along. Finally, the hero reaches the apex of his journey, where there*is an apotheosis or transcendence. The hero, having evolved and emerged into his best possible self, must return home carrying with him his new found knowledge or boon to restore the world.
      First, Huck as the hero is not of noble birth whereas most of Campbell's protagonists are princes, princesses or divinely chosen in some way. While Huck Finn is special, he is, nevertheless, an ordinary American boy which other American boys can identify with. Secondly, magic and the supernatural play an important role in the tales Campbell uses to illustrate the hero cycle. In The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, however, there is no magic. There is luck, coincidence (at times highly unlikely coincidence), but there is no magic or supernatural. This again brings the story to a level that Americans can identify with. Finally, Huck's return is of a different nature than the traditional journey which reflects a particularly American ideal.
      Huck Finn's adventure begins when he sees his father's footprint in the snow. Up to this point, Huck describes his daily, routine life, but the footprint signals a change. Huck's father functions, therefore, as the herald signaling the call to adventure by "the crisis of his appearance" (Campbell, 51). As Campbell states:

The herald or announcer of the adventure is often dark, loathly, or terrifying, judged evil by the world; yet if one could follow, the way would be opened through the walls of day into the dark where the jewels glow (Campbell, 53).

Huck's father is portrayed as dark (morally, not physically), loathly, terrifying and he is indeed judged evil by the world, but it also he who precipitates Huck's journey.
      When Huck's father moves him into the woods, Huck is in the first stages of his journey. He is away from all that is familiar to him and the longer Huck remains in the woods, the more he adjusts to the ways of life there. He cannot imagine going back to civilization, wearing stiff clothes, minding his manners and all the other ways he has acquired living with the Widow Douglas. According to Campbell, this alienation from his previous life is part of the cycle:
The familiar life horizon has been outgrown; the old concepts, ideals, and emotional patterns no longer fit; the time for the passing of a threshold is at hand (Campbell, 51).

      Huck's next step in his journey is what Campbell calls "The Belly of the Whale": "The hero . . . is swallowed into the unknown, and would appear to have died" (Campbell, 90 ). In order to proceed, the hero must leave his world totally and die into himself in order to be reborn again. He must relinquish his ties with this world in order to attain a higher level of existence, which is the purpose of his journey.
      Because Huck fears for his safety, he realizes that he must leave the woods. Yet he does not want to return to his previous life. Therefore, he elaborately stages his own death, planning every detail carefully so that everyone will think he is dead and will not, therefore, look for him and bring him back to the existence he has outgrown. This "self-annihilation" is absolutely crucial for the journey.
      After his "death," Huck floats down to Jackson's Island and spends three days and three nights by himself (reinforcing the theme of death and rebirth) before the next stage of his journey. Here, Huck meets up with Jim who is what Campbell refers to as "Supernatural Aid":
The first encounter of the hero-journey is with a protective figure (often a little old crone or old man) who provides the adventurer with amulets against the dragon forces he is about to pass (Campbell, 69).

      The fact that the aid often comes from a little old crone or an old man suggests that it comes from someone whom society does not value. To have someone whom society does not value provide essential elements to the journey is ironic. As the provider of "supernatural aid" to Huck, Jim, a 19th century black man, is not valued in human terms by his society. Indeed, he is not even thought of as human, which further heightens this irony.
      While Jim does not literally provide Huck with amulets against the dragon forces, figuratively, he does. As Campbell states: "what such a figure represents is the benign, protecting power of destiny" (Campbell, 71). Jim cares for and protects Huck, nurtures him and loves him, both mothers and fathers him, calling him "honey" and watching out for his safety. Most importantly, however, Jim provides Huck with a belief in humanity, where all along the river Huck sees evidence of man's corruption and cruelty. This belief is the amulet with which with Huck will fight off the "dragon forces," those forces being man's inhumanity to man.
      The Crossing of the First Threshold comes after Huck has learned that two men are on their way to the island. Up to this point, Jim and Huck exist in a kind of limbo, both having escaped their previous lives, but not going forward. At this point, they must move. Jim risks being captured and sold; Huck risks a return to the life he has outgrown. They must cross the threshold into the region of the unknown. Although this crossing is dangerous, the hero must move beyond it in order to enter a "new zone of experience" (Campbell, 82).
      At this point Huck, as the hero, moves into the second stage of his journeyžinitiation. It is here where he encounters the Road of Trials:
Once having traversed the threshold, the hero moves in a dream landscape of curiously fluid, ambiguous forms, where he must survive a succession of trials . . . . The hero is covertly aided by the advice, amulets, and secret agents of the supernatural helper whom he met before his entrance into this region2illustrate (Campbell, 97).

These trials are tests for the hero which he must overcome in order to move forward in his journey. They serve as guideposts along the way, reflecting his progress and growth. By surviving these trials, the hero moves to a point of transcendence. The purpose of the trials is to gain some kind of knowledge or insight which the hero needs in order to complete his journey. This leads to the question: what is the purpose of Huck's journey? Every episode along the river in some way illustrates man's inhumanity to man. Meeting every walk of life, Huck's confrontation with this world illustrates cruelty and corruption of some kind. While some characters are obviously corrupt (the king and the duke, for example), all characters are tainted somehow. Even the most charitable characters--the woman Huck meets while dressed as a girl, the Grangerfords, the Phelps, Mary Jane--are tainted by their attitudes toward blacks or towards other people in general. However, Huck's exposure to society's corruption is balanced by the kindness he receives from certain people and by the humanity he learns from Jim.
      As a product of his society, Huck believes in slavery and also believes he is doing wrong by protecting Jim. But Huck comes to see Jim's own humanity through their friendship. Jim tells Huck that he is the best and only friend he has, the only white man who has kept his promise to him. Jim's belief in Huck's goodness is essential to Huck's physical as well as psychological journey. This relationship teaches Huck about caring for another human being in the face of ubiquitous cruelty. This is the more elevated purpose of Huck's journey. Huck learns the techniques for humane survival--how to exist in the cruel world and not be corrupted by it.
      Huck's trials finally come to a crisis when the king and the duke are attempting to swindle the Wilks girls out of their inheritance. Up until this point, Huck has remained rather passive with regard to their antics. Disgusted by their behavior, however, Huck exclaims: "It was enough to make a body ashamed of the human race" (Twain, 285). He decides that he must take some action and his dilemma is over how to help the girls. Previously, Huck has lied to survive but here he realizes that his best option may be to tell the truth. This is a moment of transcendence for Huck as he rises above his experience of the past and takes a chance in telling the truth: "here's a case where I'm blest if it don't look to me like the truth is better, and actually safer, than a lie" (Twain, 299).
      This test also melds with what Campbell calls "The meeting With the Goddess." Because Huck is only a boy, there will be no "mystical marriage" with the "Universal Mother," the "incarnation of the promise of perfection." This is not to be a part of Huck's journey. Yet Mary Jane does inspire Huck. He finds her beautiful and it is because of her that he risks telling the truth and, consequently, he reaches a new level. It is obvious that she has a positive effect on him which propels him in his journey. Huck's description as he flees the cemetery and passes her house reveals this:
[M]y heart swelled up sudden, like to bust; and the same second the house and all was behind me in the dark, and wasn't ever going to be before me no more in this world. She was the best girl I ever see and had the most sand (Twain, 309).

      For Campbell, the Apotheosis occurs when the hero is raised to the level of the gods. It is a divine state which the hero attains after proving himself through his trials. Because this story is not about gods or mythic figures, Huck's apotheosis is reflected through his transcendence over his dilemma about Jim. Huck really believes he is doing wrong by helping Jim because of what he has learned in society. He even writes a letter to Miss Watson, revealing Jim's location. But Huck begins to think about Jim and his kindness, loyalty and friendship. He must choose between listening to the voice of society or his inner voice, which values Jim. He cannot violate the connection he has with Jim. However, because Huck really believes he is doing wrong by society's standards, it is a true moment of transcendence for him when he declares: "All right, then, I'll go to hell" (Twain, 309). Rising above the conventions and the level of society around him, Huck has attained a higher moral consciousness.
      The next stage in Huck's journey is The Return. After deciding to help Jim, Huck finds himself at the Phelps' farm, where they mistake him for their nephew, Tom Sawyer. This is the beginning of the "Crossing of the Return Threshold" because Huck is now back in a world which directly connects to the world he left behind.
      Tom and Huck's attempt to rescue Jim is "The Magic Flight." This is the last test, one of the purposes of Huck's journey being to free Jim. Campbell states that the Magic Flight can often become a "lively, often comical, pursuit . . . complicated by marvels of magical obstruction and evasion" (Campbell, 197). Again, the story does not involve magic, but the attempt to rescue Jim otherwise fits Campbell's description (even if the obstructions are for the most part created by Tom).
      Something interesting happens with the appearance of Tom. Huck has always looked up to Tom as the standard by which he measures himself. Yet Huck has been on a journey which has raised him above that standard. Curiously, when Tom reappears, Huck recedes, becoming passive. On the first reading, this section comes across as digressive from the normal hero cycle (and somewhat disjointed). It seems out of place with Huck's progression. But it can be reevaluated as a part of Huck's journey in that it serves to heighten the disparity between the two boys and, in doing so, we see Huck's growth.
      Huck still looks up to Tom, but he is not like Tom and does not use Tom as his model. He even calls Tom ridiculous and foolish, which is very different from his attitude towards Tom in the opening pages of the book where Tom is someone admired and respected. In this section, we see by comparison to Huck how conventional, ordinary, unimaginative and even cruel Tom is. All of Tom's ideas come from books; Huck develops his ideas himself. Tom's idea of style is to make his plans as complicated as possible and take as long as possible; Huck's solutions are always straight forward, simple and reveal his common sense. Tom even plays a trick on the slave who serves Jim which is reminiscent of the trick that Huck plays on Jim after the fog episode. However, at this point in his journey, Huck would never do this.
      Sometimes the hero is unable to return on his own. At this point, the "Rescue From Without" occurs:
The hero may have to be brought back from his supernatural adventure by assistance from without. That is to say, the world may have to come and get him (Campbell, 207).

Huck is indeed rescued from without by the Phelps, Tom and Aunt Polly. In an unlikely coincidence, they all appear as a deus ex machina whose appearance isn't logical but serves to bring Huck back.
      Huck's return is complete when the Phelps discover his identity and Huck learns that Jim is free. Huck also learns that his father is dead (releasing him from that legacy) and he still has his $6,000. There is a resurrection of his old self. Here, however, Huck's return digresses from the normal cycle. Campbell states: "the returning hero, to complete his adventure, must survive the impact of the world" (Campbell, 226). It is hard to say whether Huck accomplishes this.
      The monomythic hero, after attaining the Ultimate Boon, returns to his community and bestows his wisdom and knowledge for the good the "kingdom of humanity." Huck will not return to the Widow Douglas and he will not stay with the Phelps. He rejects their world and he doesn't want to be civilized. It seems as if he can't survive the impact of the world.
      But rather than a failed hero journey, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn reflects a particularly American hero quest, the individualistic man going west, with all the inherent dangers involved, a pioneer taming and settling the land. Rather than returning for his old world, Huck's quest is to explore new territories.


* Joseph Campbell, The Hero With a Thousand Faces (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1973). All further references to this work appear in parentheses in the text.

** Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in The American Tradition in Literature, ed. George Perkins, et al. (New York: McGraw-Hill Publishing Company, 1990). All further references to this work appear in parentheses in the text.

The Verlocs at Their Final Encounter

      The Verloc murder scene depicts the reactions of two people to a crisis situation. It is a significant scene in terms of revealing basic personality traits and in terms of highlighting the fragmentation that exists in the Verloc marriage. Conrad makes obvious that the Verlocs perceive their marital roles in fundamentally different ways and that they are really strangers to each other. The black veil covering Winnie's face is merely the outward symbol of the secrecy and mystery pervading the Verloc household. Significantly, when Verloc pulls the veil away, he doesn't succeed in "unmasking a still unreadable face" (p. 211).
      As this scene of betrayal and retribution unfolds, we see a husband and wife who are totally out of tune with each other's emotions and thoughts. Verloc is thoroughly enveloped in domestic considerations at precisely the time that Winnie psychologically disengages herself from any commitment to him. In progressive stages, Winnie perceives herself as being "a free woman" (p. 209), fears that Verloc will "want to keep her for nothing" (p. 211), and finally resolves that "the bargain" is "at an end" (p. 215). Verloc, on the other hand, strives to "make it up with her" (p. 215) and can't begin to imagine "that his wife could give him up" (p. 211). The height of irony is achieved when Verloc seeks to "woo" Winnie as she moves toward him with the carving knife.
      It becomes clear that Winnie has looked upon the marriage as a transaction, and that Stevie's welfare has been the basis for that transaction. In return for Verloc's support of Stevie, Winnie has been a dutiful wife. Verloc, however, genuinely believes that he is and has been "loved for himself" (p. 214). Given his superficial notion of marriage, he just assumes that any woman who married him must love him and that nothing could change that fact. Therefore, although the "bargain" has been brutally terminated for Winnie, Verloc has no conception of this and his main concern remains the maintenance of his domestic tranquility.
      Indeed, Verloc's thorough domesticity is prevalent throughout this scene. His response to what he considers to be Winnie's "sulking in that dreadful overcharged silence" (p. 213) is that she's "a master in that domestic art" (p. 213). Conrad describes Verloc as being "tired" and "resigned in a truly marital spirit" (p. 213) and even refers to his voice as a "domestic voice" (p. 212). Also, it is implicit that Verloc perceives his situation as being comparable to that of "peaceful men in domestic tiffs" (p. 212). His total domesticity leads him to draw simplistic, familiar conclusions and colors his reading of Winnie's response. Beyond that, however, his preoccupation with his domestic self-image is so strongly stressed here, that we have to assume that it has colored much of his activity in general and that it is very central to his personality structure. (Thus, it is a final irony that he should be murdered by his wife and with a domestic knife.)
      Verloc is so totally preoccupied with his own concerns and is so shallow and insensitive, that he doesn't begin to comprehend the horror of his action or the shattering effect it has had on Winnie. Verloc is portrayed as being emotionally flat in this scene. He undergoes no inner or outer turmoil and there's no sense of vitality about him. Here is a man who faces his wife after causing her brother to be blown to bits, and we get no sense of any intensity of feeling from him. He manifests no remorse--just regret that things didn't work out according to plan--and instead concentrates on self-justifications. His main sensation seems to be fatigue and we get a sense of his indolence as his lies sprawled across the couch. Conrad adds his usual ironic touch by having Verloc meet his death lying motionlessly: he dies, as he has lived, in a state of inertia.
      Winnie, on the other hand, is described as one "whose moral nature had been subjected to a shock of which, in the physical order, the most violent earthquake of history could only be a faint and languid rendering" (p. 210). That analogy describes the magnitude of her emotional upheaval, and lies in sharp contrast to Verloc's unfeeling and inert state. A dichotomy exists, however, between Winnie's internal turmoil and her quiet exterior. The two are fragmented and out of tune with each other. She doesn't scream or get hysterical. All the activity is internal. Outwardly she remains inscrutable and uncommunicative and she retains tight control on any show of emotion. We get a picture here of a woman who has a very intense emotional capacity, but who, characteristically, keeps her feelings locked tightly within her.
      For a short while, Winnie does attain a harmonious state. A change comes over her appearance as she moves toward Verloc with the carving knife in her hand. She takes on Stevie's facial expressions and Conrad writes that "the resemblance of her face with that of her brother grew at every step, even to the droop of the lower lip, even to the slight divergence of the eyes" (p. 215). This may reflect the strong hold that Stevie still has over his sister. But more significantly, I think, it unmasks the cold, dispassionate facade that Winnie has learned to present. As she commits the murder, Winnie becomes a total creature of passion and the fragmentation between her interior and exterior states disappears. She becomes like Stevie who has an instinctive emotional reaction to an injustice and who must move to correct it. For a few moments, her veil of restraint falls away.
      Conrad describes Winnie as being "capable of a bargain the mere suspicion of which would have been infinitely shocking to Mr. Verloc's idea of love" (p. 213). This description reflects the different expectations the Verlocs have from marriage and how little they know about each other. They live in their separate worlds, are guided by different and unspoken motivations, and seek to have their own needs fulfilled through their marriage. Neither seems concerned or even aware that the other has needs and priorities too. Each seems to view marriage through a tunnel vision--only aware of his or her own perspective.
      The Verlocs remain isolated from each other and unable to communicate until the very end. Even when the truth stares them in the face, the Verlocs remain oblivious to it. Winnie gives no sign of comprehension when Verloc tells her that she shares responsibility for what's happened. Verloc never shows the slightest understanding of Winnie or the reason for her violent response. Even when the knife is upon him, the only explanation this man can conjure up is that his wife has "gone raving mad" (p. 216). The Verloc marriage is enveloped in secrecy and misunderstandings. Using progressive strokes of irony, Conrad depicts the destructive nature and tragic consequences of a relationship based on hidden motives and cross-purposes. Click on your choice:

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Revised: 8/29/02