Pamela By Samuel Richardson Highlights Women Issues Of The Time

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Overview

By writing the letters she sent to her parents, little Pamela tells the story of how she was treated by her young master in his 20s after the death of his mother, an elderly and compassionate woman. To ruin the young girl’s virginity, Mr. B, her autocratic and oppressive boss, will stop at nothing. Pamela, on the other hand, stands in the way of him obtaining his single aim in life because of her high moral standards. Finally, it is Pamela’s virtues and purity that triumph and assist to rehabilitate Mr. B. In the end, the couple gets married and starts a family.

Women issues in the novel Pamela

Richardson uses her work to bring attention to the subject of women being abused and mistreated by both their masters and society at large. Having aristocratic position, Mr. B is able to mistreat and control his servants. He must put up a show and behave in accordance with the patriarchal social rules that prevail in England. That is why Pamela is his primary target for sexual approaches. Because she is attractive and young, and because she is a servant and in need of the work she is performing, she is an excellent target for sex abuse.     

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After her mother’s death, Mr. B believes he has free reign to do anything he wants with Pamela because he is the man of the house and the master. The society and the state fail to punish him despite his repeated attempts to entice and abuse her, as well as his repeated sexual assaults and kidnappings. She has no other option except to employ religious rhetoric and moral arguments to dissuade him. However, despite the difficulties, she is able to maintain her virginity after enduring a traumatic ordeal.

As the story unfolds, it becomes clear that Pamela belongs to a lower social stratum. To make ends meet, she is forced to work as a maid. Because of her vulnerability, she is able to put up with her master’s sexual advances. When she is given the option to leave the company, she weighs the pros and cons carefully.

In the absence of financial resources, how would she manage to live? When her parents rely on her income, how will they be able to get by? The answers to these questions keep her from taking the drastic step of running away. Though she is mourning the death of Mr. B’s mother in the novel’s first letter, she is more concerned about her career than anything else.

Pamela

Because of her position as a servant, she is vulnerable to being blamed or accused of wrongdoing even though she is completely innocent. Another aristocrat, Simon Darnford, defended Mr. B with these words:  

“And if he takes care she wants for nothing, I don’t see any great Injury will be done her. He hurts no Family by this”

As a servant, she must learn to anticipate punishment rather than reward. Whether she returns home or remains in captivity is not her decision, but rather that of her master. As a member of the lowest social class, she has no rights under British law.

She asks “how came I to be his Property? What Right has he in me, but such as a Thief may plead to stolen Goods?”

She becomes Mr. B’s property not by choice or nature, but rather by customs, traditions, and conventions. Even the other servants do not defend her since they believe their master has the right to do whatever he pleases with them. Mrs. Jewkes tells Mr. B, as he is ready to rape Pamela:

“What you do, Sir, do; don’t stand dilly-dallying”

She continues to submit to Mr. B’s control after they get married. Even if they are in love, Mr. B’s masculinity still calls for respect and deference. Even after getting married, Pamela continues to hunt for novel ways to win her husband over. She has been obedient to her master up until this point, but after marriage, she will be obedient to her husband. She makes every effort to please him and live up to social expectations of a decent wife. She still refers to him as master after being married.

Conclusion

Figuring out the underlying goal of writing this novel remains a major puzzle in the book. Is Richardson attempting to maintain the traditional idea of masculinity or is he attempting to draw attention to the situation of women in society?

Read more: Austen’s Pride And Prejudice Is A Reflection On 19th Century Patriarchy

Pamela’s rebellion at the start of the book in response to her master’s inappropriate behaviour and her eventual subordination to him as his wife provide fodder for criticism. Is he attempting to offer a strong defence of the Christian notion of goodness and innocence while also serving as a positive role model for women? Or is he advocating for the time’s women to revolt against male dominance because they are not objects to be owned by men?


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