I am shocked to say that I'm not only finished with the May reading of Clarissa, but I've actually already read some of the June entries! Do not take this to mean I'm enjoying myself though. I still want to bring Richardson's editor back from the dead and beat him with the bulky tome until he dies again. It's just so frustrating because I feel like there are kernels of a compelling story hidden beneath layers and layers of verbosity and repetitive letters.
I like where Richardson seems to be going. Women had it rough in the eighteenth century. If you were fortunate enough to be born to a gentleman, you would be completely controlled by him until he sells you off to whichever man makes the most business/political sense. Then you get to be controlled by him until one of you dies. If he dies, you might be able to be independent if you're lucky, but it's likely your estate will be entailed and given to a male relative. They might let you stay there. Or, you may have to marry again and repeat the process, or return home to your father, or go to a brother or another male relative, or maybe a sister or cousin and help with their children.
And if you're poor? Well, you get to work yourself to the bone, have a brood of children you can't afford, and spend most of your time caring for some richer person's family instead of your own.
But back to Clarissa. In the May letters, we see her life after she runs away with Lovelace and regrets her decision, not that she really decided to runaway, it just sort of happened. Now she's stuck because her virtue is destroyed because everyone assumes she's slept with Lovelace, even though she hasn't. She must marry him now or be alone forever, and she has no where else to go. However, she's realized she doesn't want to marry him and is hoping for a way out.
Despite my complaints, I do think the story picked up steam this month when I look back at it, but it took nearly 200 pages to share what I summarized in a paragraph...and it's still going into June. June is the month with the most pages, so I'm hoping it picks up more. Then we start the downward slide with each month having fewer and fewer pages. I plan on finishing in October as November and December have only 16 and 6 pages according to JoAnn's reading schedule (I'm reading it on my Nook so I'm not positive how many pages are in my edition) and I'd rather just get it over with. If you want to the other crazy participants who are trying to make their way through Clarissa, check out JoAnn's page (although I think there are only about 5 or 6 of us left!).