Question: Richardson complained, "oh, that I could not say that I have met with more admirers of Lovelace than of Clarissa." Discuss.
Richardson's novel, Clarissa, tackles the question of what human nature is. When he says "Oh, that I could not say that I have not met with more admirers of Lovelace than of Clarissa" he is commenting on the characters of people he has met. He divides people, in this quote, into two categories–those that find Clarissa appealing and those that favor Lovelace. The two schools of thought content in the novel, and Richardson has fond that they also exist in reality.
One of the major themes in Clarissa–if not the major theme–is the questitn of human nature. Clarissa and Lovelace represent two polar ideas regarding this question. Aside form this idea both characters are somewhat similar. They are both attractive, educated, bright and interesting. The center of their differences is their definition of human nature. Richardson ascribes their idea to members of opposite sexes attemptogn the best and worst of each. Clarissa–the best of females–believes that punctiliousness and virtue are intrinsic to people and that these values are to be regarded as foremost in importance. Lovelace's definition states that people are basically animals. They are slaves to their emotions and should not attempt to control them.
Richardson's quote gives us insight into his opinion of human nature. He believes that Clarissa's ideas of virtue and honor are paramount. In the novel, he supports this view but leaves us with the question of whether or not one can exist int his world while unwaveringly holding to this believe. Anna Howe says that Clarissa is "more fit for the next" world–meaning heaven. Because she holds fast to her belief she ascends to an angelic state as the novel progresses. Richardson, by making Clarissa into an etherial being, tells us that her idea regarding human nature are correct. The fact that she dies without experiencing earthly pleasures is not necessarily a condemnation of her beliefs. She calls this life a "weaning time," and retaining her virtue served only to hasten her preparation. If death, and subsequently heaven,
Lovelace represents the ultimate "rake." His ideas regarding human nature are reflected in the rake's creed when he says that women love uncontrolled passion, and that it is his duty to abide by his passions. He believes that people are, by nature, passionate animals that should engage in sex–gratuitously when it suits them. He questions the validity of his idea more and more as the novel progresses because he sees Clarissa's strength and character. His idea is ultimately disproved. He is shown to be a beast by his own definition–and ides alone and far away from the center stage of the novel.
Richardson, many say, approves of a "middle road" between the twoideas. Judging form his quote, however, one would have to agree that he believes that Clarissa had the better of the two ideas. He is saying that he wishes more peple would relate to Clarissa's character than enjoy the depravity of Lovelace.
Question: Is there, as E.M. Forster suggests, a god whose name is Muddle, in Tristram Shandy?
A first, second, probably even a tenth quick reading of Tristram Shandy would make a person agree with E.M. Forster and swear that Sterne wrote Tristram Shandy as an offering to a god named Muddle. This is a very nice thing to believe because if Muddle is the god of the novel, then it can easily be dismissed with a coy "Oh well, I'll never understand Tristram Shandy., so why bother?" However, with some reflection, one may say that Muddle does not rule.
One problem with Tristram Shandy (TS) is that we think life moves in a linear way. We even order our lives by this fashion by separating days from nights, and watching clocks, weeks, and years progress in an orderly way. Unfortunately, these are man's contrivances in an attempt to create order. TS simply reveals that life does not move in this way. People think by association not linear logic. We can become stuck in time, like Uncle Toby; tortured by times progress; like Mr. Shandy; or, live from movement to moment like Tristram. Sterne wants us to see and experience this.
Sterne's stylistic method of repetition of sentences or phrases, digressions and jumps all help to imitate our thought process. When he takes three pages to bring Uncle Toby and Tristram's father down one step, I am reminded of a line from T.S. Eliot's "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" on how in a moment there is time to make a thousand decisions which another moment will revise. Sterne wants the reader to have a different logic.
Stene's altered logic is also visible in his cause and effects. Yes, it is ridiculous to blame Tristram's character defects on concentrating on winding a clock during intercourse, but how often can we trace the cause of something back to an event far removed. We usually say, "if." The "if" is rarely the event which directly precedes an action. And, as in Tristram's castration, it seems almost necessary to skip back to why the sash doesn't work. Of course, you can go too far.
I don't think that muddle rules Tristram Shandy. All the rules make sense within the framework.