This essay explores the fetishism of mourning and mourning jewellery as fetish in Samuel Richardson's Clarissa. Following some historical background on mourning jewellery fashioned with human hair and a definition of fetishism as it relates to mourning jewellery, I discuss Clarissa herself as fetish. I also examine Clarissa's bequests of mourning jewellery by exploring how these fetishized bequests offer psychic compensation to the wearers, allow access to the virtues associated with Clarissa, and assure remembrance of the dead. Finally, I argue for the centrality of mourning to the realization of Richardson's moral, didactic, and aesthetic intent.

Contributor's Note

Kathleen M. Oliver is the author of Samuel Richardson, Dress, and Discourse (2008) and essays on Daniel Defoe, Sarah Fielding, Frances Sheridan, and Samuel Richardson. She is associate professor of English at the University of Central Florida.