"Clarissa, or The history of a young lady" is a novel written by Samuel Richardson in 4 parts in 1748. It was created in the genre of a family character-studying novel in the era of the Enlightenment Mature. This genre was at that time very common in literature. Richardson wrote such novels as "The History of Charles Grandisson" and "Pamela, or Virtue rewarded" before "Clarissa". The main idea of these novels was exalting of the virtues in their traditional sense: blessed are the sinless, so, be virtuous and you will be happy. The novel "Clarissa" is written in another way - here the tragic line dominates.
The novel is written in the epistolary genre. Events are shown to a reader by characters’ correspondence.
The novel was a huge success. People were absorbed in it, they pleaded Richardson not to let Clarissa die and, like Pamela, live happily ever after. However, the greatest impression on the audience made a demonic image of Lovelace. According to some estimates, Lovelace as a character is brighter than Clarissa. According to some critics, readers embraced psychology and capacious characters of the novel differently than the author expected. Moreover, psychology is advanced to the foreground and blocked the moral side, which was important for Richardson.
Richardson considered his novel not to be understood - readers estimated the figure of Lovelace incorrectly. He provided the third part with the extensive commentaries, which explain exactly how to read his novel and how to understand all the heroes’ deeds.
"Clarissa" is a masterpiece of psychological prose. Moral duty in Clarissa’s face was opposed to unprincipled Lovelace. Clarissa was good and moral, Lovelace was cynical and selfish. She was a victim, he was a predator. They are the opposite concepts of a person.