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Women, Consumption and Popular Culture (Vol. 4 No. 1); Life, Community, and Ethics (Vol. 4. No. 2)

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This paper studies the narrative strategy underlying Samuel Richardson’s great fictional work—Clarissa. Demonstrating how Richardson puts the rape event to profitable use in his great scheme of moral reform, I contend that Richardson deploys sexual violence and counter advice to extirpate eroticism and to subvert aristocratic libertinism and bourgeois conformism. In so doing, Richardson challenges a long eighteenth-century tradition of abiding by public opinion, which advocates the marriage of the victim to her rapist, so long as the rapist is rich.

The violent event of Clarissa’s rape, long anticipated before the occurrence, reverberates throughout the remainder of the novel and serves as Richardson’s praxis for the moralizing project of Christian reform. By having Clarissa reject over and over again the advice from her friends and relatives to marry Lovelace in order to superficially patch up an injured reputation post facto, Richardson overhauls predominant ideologies of aristocratic libertinism and bourgeois conformism with the help of sexual violence. The deployment of counter advice that Clarissa rejects repeatedly allows Richardson to establish new moral and behavioral guidelines with Clarissa, our paragon of virtue. Clarissa’s refusal of Lovelace’s marriage proposal categorically denigrates a long tradition of the marriage panacea frequently prescribed for violated virginity and proposes a closer match between moral theory and practice.

Though Richardson’s representation of Clarissa’s rape might seem to be at odds with his moral reform, the presence of sexual violence and repeated negation of counter advice work subtly to exclude eroticism, libertinism, and conformity from his didactic scheme.

KEY WORDS: Clarissa, rape, didacticism, reform, libertinism, conformism

摘 要

本文旨在探索李查森小說巨作克蘿瑞莎背後的敍事 策略,並說明李查森如何利用性暴力來逹成道德改革的重 大使命。本文主張李查森利用性暴力及負面勸導來顛覆十 八世紀貴族的浪蕩主義以及中產階級的屈服主義,同時並 挑戰了一個十八世紀長久以來把強暴受害者嫁給富有施 暴者的傳統。 克蘿瑞莎的強暴事件在發生之前早已有預告,在發生 後不僅回響於其餘的篇幅,還是李查森心中偉大基督教道 德改革的主軸。藉由讓克蘿瑞莎一再拒絕親友要她嫁給拉 夫理斯以粉飾名譽受損的勸導,李查森利用性暴力推翻了 用事後結婚來掩飾強暴污名的世俗,並且成功地反駁了主 流貴族浪蕩子哲學及中產階級的屈服主義。李查森運用克 蘿瑞莎一再拒絕負面勸導的策略,得以重新建立以道德崇 高的女主角為中心的道德行為準則。克蘿瑞莎拒絶拉夫理 斯求婚的同時亦全面性地駁斥了長久以來以結婚作為撫 平強暴傷害的萬靈藥,並提倡道德理論與實踐之間更緊密 的契合。 雖然李查森對克蘿瑞莎強暴事件的舖陳似乎與其道 德改革的意圖互相抵觸,但其性暴力的呈現與重覆駁斥的 負面勸導微妙地將色情愛慾、浪蕩主義及屈服主義給排除 掉了。

關鍵詞:克蘿瑞莎、強暴、教誨主義、道德改革、浪蕩主義、 屈服主義