Annotated Bibliography: Courtship

Binhammer, Katherine. “Knowing Love: The Epistemology of ‘Clarissa.’” ELH, vol. 74, no. 4, John Hopkins University Press, 2007, pp. 859-79. JSTOR, Accessed 25 Feb. 2022.

Binhammer explores the idea of love in Clarissa by analyzing the way in which Lovelace courts Clarissa with seduction and manipulation. Binhammer defines this courtship as Lovelace devising an elaborate plot to gain Clarissa’s consent to sex, in which love is limited to sex and is won by a mastery-level knowledge of sex, the limitations of which denies Lovelace the knowledge of Clarissa’s heart. She also explores Clarissa’s idea of a distinct disparity between love and sex. Binhammer sees the differing notions of love and sex as the driving forces of this courtship plot and the novel as a whole.

Stevenson, John Allen. “The Courtship of the Family: Clarissa and the Harlowes Once More.” ELH, vol. 48, no. 4, Johns Hopkins University Press, 1981, pp. 757-77. JSTOR, Accessed 25 Feb. 2022.

Stevenson explores the nature of a family’s influence in a young woman’s courtship in the eighteenth century, using Richardson’s Clarissa as his primary point of analysis. He denies the idea that the Harlowe’s propose a property marriage for Clarissa, arguing rather that the Harlowe family use this prevalent, though declining trend of the marriage institution, in order to disguise their intention to maintain authority over Clarissa for the rest of their lives through endogamy. She postulates that the Harlowes’ greed is more incestuous than pecuniary because of their desire to maintain possession of Clarissa. Stevenson’s careful analysis of Clarissa highlights the changing views and uses of the marriage institution across the eighteenth century.


Klotman, Phyllis R. “Sin and Sublimation in the Novels of Samuel Richardson.” CLA Journal, vol. 20, no. 3, College Language Association, 1977, pp. 365–73. JSTOR, Accessed 25 Feb. 2022.

Klotman provides a comparative analysis of Richardson’s Puritan and didactic driven novels, Pamela and Clarissa. His claims about Lovelace and Clarissa appear rather extreme next to other scholarship. He positions Clarissa as a masochist and a courter of death and Lovelace as a sadist. Klotman explores these perversions, comparing them to the psychological awkwardness of Pamela to show Richardson’s success with Clarissa through the limitation of the most important events (e.g., the rape and Clarissa’s death) to no more than two lines. According to Klotman, Richardson improved his style by promoting his exploration into the psychological more than the plot.

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