Clarissa’s Wit vs. Evelina’s Uncertainty

“As soon as the company dispersed, the ladies retired to dress. I then, unexpectedly, found myself alone with Lord Orville; who, the moment I rose to follow Mrs. Selwyn, advanced to me, and said, “Will Miss Anville pardon my impatience, if I remind her of the promise she was so good as to make me this morning?”

I stopped, and would have returned to my seat; but before I had time, the servants came to lay the cloth. He retreated, and went towards the window; and, while I was considering in what manner to begin, I could not help asking myself what right I had to communicate the affairs of Mr. Macartney: and I doubted whether, to clear myself from one act of imprudence, I had not committed another.

Distressed by this reflection, I thought it best to quit the room, and give myself some time for consideration before I spoke; and therefore, only saying I must hasten to dress, I ran up stairs, rather abruptly I own; and so, I fear, Lord Orville must think. Yet what could I do? Unused to the situations in which I find myself, and embarrassed by the slightest difficulties, I seldom, till too late, discover how I ought to act.” (Letter 67)

Here we see how different Evelina is from Clarissa. Clarissa was very sure of herself. Even though she falls prey to Lovelace’s scheme, she is incredibly witty, especially for a woman, and she conceives of plans to escape many of the pitfalls that line her destiny. Evelina, on the other hand, lacks confidence. She is very new to larger society and does not possess the knowledge of how to act and converse with anyone far beyond those familiars with which she was raised. Evelina never thinks she does anything write and always seems to lament her words and actions, while Clarissa believes that she has sometimes acted in the best way she could and other times laments her decisions.

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