Clarissa's grandfather dies and leaves her, the youngest female, a large estate (compared to others) because he liked her the most. The family realise that she needs to be married off to a man good enough to run such an estate and who would be great to have connections with, so they decide on Roger Solmes, who Clarissa despises. As this is happening, Lovelace (a man of questionable standards) declares interest in Clarissa and leaves her sister, Bella, to seduce her which ends in a fight to the death with the eldest brother, James - Lovelace wins, injuring James. At Clarissa's refusal to marry Roger Solmes her family decide to lock her in the house until she complies but she manages to sneak out secret messages to her dearest friend, Anna.

''Clarissa Or A History Of A Young Lady'' was Samuel Richardson's last novel and told entirely by [[EpistolaryNovel letters]] between various characters.

It's also the longest novel in the English language (making it number five behind four French novels). Published in 1747-8 and part of the public domain can be read [[ here]] for free.

There was a television adaption in 1991 starring Creator/SeanBean as Lovelace and Saskia Wickham as Clarissa.

!!Tropes Appearing in This Novel
* AbductionIsLove: That's how Lovelace does it.
* AbhorrentAdmirer: Roger Solmes, the man the family wants to pair Clarissa up with. He is the full package: not only considered unattractive by the object of his admiration, but also selfish, greedy, and bent on not taking no for an answer.
* AbusiveParents: Mr Harlowe was intended as a father who used his daughter's duty to be obedient without upholding his duties not to be an evil dictator. His abuse was probably considered something commonplace, but sad and cringe-worthy. Mrs Harlowe may have been intended as a victim, but to a modern reader, she often seems like a WoobieDestroyerOfWorlds or a {{Wangst}}y ManipulativeBastard, and with her obsession with getting obeyed by her daughter and pleasing her husband, she sometimes comes across as a plain TroubledAbuser.
* AccompliceByInaction: The heroine's mother and her aunt look like this from a modern reader's perspective because they never oppose the father when he does his best to force the heroine into an arranged marriage. Richardson seemed to partially agree, at least for the good aunt Hervey, whom he describes in the preface as "lacking the courage to go against so strong a steam, [and] sailing with it"
* AllGirlsWantBadBoys: Deconstructed. Clarissa's initial fascination with Lovelace wears off very quickly. And it took a long time to build itself.
* AmbitionIsEvil: [[spoiler: Clarissa's family, and possibly Mr Solmes, who may want to marry her mostly for the money and lets her be pressured and bullied into accepting the match. ]]
* ArrangedMarriage: Clarissa with Roger Solmes. While he is happy about this, she absolutely despises him and refuses marry him - meaning she gets locked in the house until she does.
* BigBrotherBully: James is constantly rude to Clarissa but claims he's being over protective. This quickly gets out of hand and he and Bella are soon causing Clarissa serious harm.
* BitchInSheepsClothing: Bella, [[{{Hypocrite}} who also accuses]] [[StoicWoobie Clarissa]] of being such.
* BlessedWithSuck: Clarissa gets left a huge amount of money from her grandfather's will! Oh, she has to marry somebody the family decides is suitable.
* CharacterTitle
* DeadManWriting: [[spoiler: Clarissa's final letters to her family and friends, all intended to be read after her death]].
* DeathSeeker: [[spoiler: Lovelace, after he reads Clarissa's will and suffers a VillainousBSOD.]]
* DoesNotLikeMen: Anna; she compares all men to baboons.
* DomesticAbuse: In those days locking your disobedient daughter wasn't so bad but it's abuse now.
* {{Doorstopper}}: Longest book in the English language. The Penguin Classics edition of 1985 comes in at 1,536 pages. Stitch that, Creator/GeorgeRRMartin.
* DoubleStandard: Given the time of writing it's understandable.
* DuelToTheDeath: Lovelace and James Harlowe; Lovelace and Col. Morden. [[spoiler: In the second duel, Lovelace intentionally gets himself killed.]]
* EpistolaryNovel: The novel counts the amount at over five hundred letters.
* EvenEvilHasStandards / JerkWithAHeartOfGold : [[spoiler: {{DeconstructedTrope}} for the two libertine villains respectively. Yes, the libertines may have scruples to "ruin" a poor girl, but they have doubtlessly hurt countles people. ]]
** [[spoiler: Probably BlueAndOrangeMorality]].
* ExactEavesdropping: Backfires when Clarissa's maid overhears a particular phrase, which leads to her dismissal after Clarissa uses the exact phrase in a letter to her parents.
* FinalSpeech: [[spoiler: "LET THIS EXPIATE!"]]
* HaveAGayOldTime: "Nor did it appear that [Lovelace] was so bad a man as had been represented; wild indeed, but it was at a gay time of life."
* TheIngenue: Clarissa.
* LateArrivalSpoiler: The blurb on the back of the 1985 Penguin Classic edition spoils the ending.
* MortonsFork: Clarissa has the choice between Solmes and Lovelace.
* NobleDemon: Lovelace, at least initially. Clarissa admits she's heard as many good things as bad about him, or at least, more credible.
* NoSympathy: Clarissa's family to Clarissa, from the moment it's clear she doesn't want to help them in their social-climbing by litterally selling herself to Mr Solmes.
* PrinceCharmless: Lovelace.
* RapeAsDrama
* RomanticTwoGirlFriendship: Between Clarissa and Anna.
* TakeAThirdOption: As Clarissa is worrying about her decision between marrying Solmes or running away with Lovelace, Anna suggests she comes with her to London. It doesn't happen.
* TheReasonYouSuckSpeech:
** These constitute some of the awesomest parts of the book, and definitely happens between Anna [[HairTriggerTemper Howe]] and [[BitchInSheepsClothing Arabella]] [[WoundedGazelleGambit Harlowe]]. Ab awesome moment of this sort may have happened between Arabella and Anna's mothers.
** Bella's mother begs Mrs Howe to refrain Anna from insulting Bella (worst sister ever to Anna's best friend). Mrs Howe's answer is full of possible StealthInsult material. For instance: she says that she finds Anna's desire to visit her friend ridiculous because Anna's place is with her, her mother (Clarissa's abandonned her once she fled), and not with her ''poor'' ''exceedingly ill'' friend, a fallen ''angel'' bad example ''for all her virtues and great judgement''. She then supposedly criticizes young people's romantic notions, and finally ends her letter with a postcript, in which she expresses her desire to bring Anna away to distract her minds from the sorrow of her ill friend, ending with this little gem :
--->'''Mrs Howe''': [Clarissa]'s [[IllGirl ill-fortune]] afflicts ''[[TrueCompanions us]]'' nearly as much as [[RebelliousPrincess her rashness]] afflicts ''[[AbusiveParents you]]''.
* TheResenter: Bella is this to Clarissa, because of her grandfather's will, which favors her, of the general preference her family shows her because she has self-control and a conventionally beautiful woman. There is also something about Lovelace because he [[spoiler: spurned her and took interest in her younger sister.]]
* VillainousBSOD: Lovelace [[spoiler: after he sees Clarissa's will.]]
* WhereAreTheyNowEpilogue
* WomanScorned: A large part of Arabella's antagonism to Clarissa.
* WoundedGazelleGambit: Clarissa's mother tries to make her daughter pity her for ''being pressured into obtaining Clarissa's ArrangedMarriage'', in order to force her to marry Mr Solmes.