Clarissa is generally regarded by critics to be among the masterpieces of eighteenth-century European literature. Harold Bloom cites it as one of the most central and influential novels in the English literary tradition. The novel was very well-received as it was being released. However, many readers began to push Richardson for a happy ending with a wedding between Clarissa and Lovelace.[2] At the novel's end, many readers were upset, and some individuals even wrote alternative endings for the story with a happier end. Some of the most well-known ones included happier alternative endings written by two women called Lady Bradshaigh and Lady Echlin.[3] Richardson felt as though the morals and messages of the story were not getting across to his audience properly. As such, in later editions of the novel, he attempted to make Clarissa's character appear purer while also making Lovelace's character more sinister in hopes of making his audience see what his intentions were with writing the novel.[2]

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