Clarissa Oakes (character)

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Clarissa Oakes, née Clarissa Harvill, was a young transportee to Australia who was sexually abused by a relative while young after the death of her parents. The experience left her utterly indifferent to sexual relationships, a situation which facilitated her role in prostitution at Mother Abbott’s brothel in London.

SPOILER WARNING:  Plot or ending details for "Clarissa Oakes/The Truelove to Blue at the Mizzen"  follow.

In the Canon

In unexplained circumstances, Clarissa killed, by shooting, a Mr. Caley, for which crime she was condemned to transportation to New South Wales, Australia. While a convict there, Clarissa may possibly have committed infanticide, although it is not wholly clear that this was the case. William Oakes, a midshipman on the Surprise, smuggled Clarissa aboard when the ship departed Sydney. Jack Aubrey subsequently discovered the presence of the young woman, but permitted her to marry Oakes as a precaution against her being returned as a convict to New South Wales. While aboard Surprise, Clarissa engaged in sexual liaisons with a number of the ship’s officers, resulting in intense jealousies that for a time threatened the well-being of the Surprise. During the same voyage, Clarissa was befriended by Stephen Maturin and she eventually related much of her past history to him, including details of the activities of Andrew Wray and Edward Ledward at Mother Abbott’s, with sufficient information regarding Duke of Habachsthal as well.

Clarissa Oakes and her husband left the Surprise aboard Nutmeg of Consolation and eventually returned to England where Clarissa is under the silent protection of Sir Joseph Blaine. William Oakes was shortly thereafter killed in action, and Clarissa finds refuge with Diana Villiers. After Diana fled through distress at her daughter Brigid’s unusual mental state, Clarissa became the young girl’s de facto caretaker, remaining in that capacity even after Stephen Maturin’s return to England. For a time, Clarissa accompanied Brigid to Spain when her freedom was endangered as a transportee returned before her sentence had expired. This was before the Duke of Habachsthal could be brought to justice. Eventually, Clarissa married Mr. Andrews, the Rector of Wytherton. This seems to have been a way for O'Brian to remove her from the scene when he brought a new young woman into Maturin's life.

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