Why Clarissa?

According to Wikipedia the name Clarissa is derived from the English and French name Clarice. Clarice is derived from the Latin  word Clarus, which means “bright, clear, or famous.” Clarissa also has a Greek origin, from the root, meaning brilliant.

So why did McEwan choose it for one of his characters? Today we talked about the use of the word ‘clarity’ – could this relate to Clarissa? What do you think her role is in the novel? Try thinking about the sound of her name – what comes to mind? What about other texts, do you think McEwan is making literary connections?

It is interesting that McEwan has said that he wanted the reader to side with Clarissa and that there are all kinds of false trails in Enduring Love.  He has also said,”but I wanted Clarissa to be wrong. I wanted the police to be wrong. I rather like those plots.” Is the use of the name ironic?

There is a novel called Clarissa written by Samuel Richardson. Clarissa, or, the History of a Young Lady is an epistolary novel by Samuel Richardson, published in 1748. It tells the tragic story of a heroine whose quest for virtue is continually thwarted by her family, and is one of the longest novels in the English language. There is also Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf. Mrs Dalloway details a day in the life of Clarissa Dalloway in post-World War I England.


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