Essay on “Pamela: Or Virtue Rewarded” written by Samuel Richardson

This paper is a critical research paper. It discusses the novel Pamela: Or Virtue Rewarded written by Samuel Richardson. The paper describes how love is created by Pamela and Mr. B., how genuine is the love between them, and what the overall purpose of the novel is.

The Nature of Virtue

Samuel Richardson’s story has usually provided the impression of defining virtue too scarcely and even negatively, as a physical state of virginity before the wedding. The book’s notion of virtue is really larger than its detractors have allowed, nevertheless. To start with, the main protagonist makes a rational distinction between losing her virginity unwillingly and acquiescing in the seduction. Just the latter would be misbehavior against sexual virtue. Additionally, almost the total second half of the story is taken up with the clarification and admire of Pamela’s nice characteristics of generosity and kindness. Mr. B. values these characteristics, and they have brought him to make a proposal: reading her letters, he has found out her real goodwill toward him, chiefly in her triumph over his escape from passing away by drowning. Consequently, Pamela’s active kindness merits the prize of a cheerful marriage as much as her protection of own virginity.

Themes of Sex and Love

Sexual disparity was a traditional theme of 18-century social critics and philosophers: some religious people were agitating for global suffrage, John Locke fought for global education, and a feminist Mary Astell criticized the inequities of the married state. Although the author’s decision to have a girl fall in love with the would-be rapist has irritated the advocates of females’ rights, he remains in a way a feminist writer due to his genuine interest in the concerns and hopes of females. He lets Pamela comment harshly on the old theme of a sexual dual standard: those Things do not actually disgrace Men that ruin poor Ladies, as the World goes (Richardson, 50) Additionally, Sally Godfrey shows the truth of this statement by going to huge lengths to avoid ruin after her relations with Mr. B., which actually comes through this episode relatively unharmed (Bachman, 14).

Not merely as regards extramarital actions but as regards the marriage itself, 18-century society stacked a hit against ladies: a wife had no lawful live apart from a husband, and as Jocelyn Harris asserts, Pamela in marrying her Master commits herself forever to a person whom she barely knows and who has not been prominent for either his calm temper or persistent monogamy; Pamela’s personal sarcasms after the marriage, then, register delicately the author’s suitable misgivings concerning wedding as a reward for females’ virtue (Harris).

Probably above all, nevertheless, the author sympathy for a feminine opinion of things emerges in the presentation of some contrasts among the masculine and feminine minds. Pamela’s psychological delicacy counters Mr. B.’s straightforwardness, her emotional enhancement counters his rudeness, and her insightfulness defeats his heartlessness, with the outcome that he must forget his masculine, violent persona and embrace instead the feminine characteristics of his wife.

Since the first issue of the novel in 1740, critics have accused the author’s heroine of insincerity, asserting that Pamela’s apparent virtue is merely a psychological trick for attracting Mr. B. The criticism has a merit, in that a girl indeed turns out to be more positively inclined toward Mr. B than she’s let on; in Pamela’s defense, nevertheless, her twisting of own feelings has not been purposeful, as she is the last individual to understand what a treacherous, treacherous Heart has experienced. Young lady’s trouble in realizing her own heart increases larger questions of the chance of precise disclosure: if Pamela cannot even tell herself the reality, then what opportunity is there that personal communication will be any more clear?

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