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Pamela; or, Virtue Rewarded and Clarissa: An Analysis

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 1617 words Published: 28th Sep 2017

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Pamela Virtue Rewarded

1. Society in 18th and 19th Century England

Life in 18th and 19th century England was to a large extent governed by the class system. Who you were in this society was determined by your birth and your property, if you were a man that is. For a woman, the social ranking would be determined by her male provider. When married, a woman would inherit the social ranking of her husband; before marriage, the father’s social status dictated the ranking of the daughter. A married woman of the upper class had four responsibilities in life. She was to obey her husband and bear his children. Once the child was born, however, it usually became the responsibility of a wet-nurse or a governess. The parents had little to do with their children on an everyday basis, and the relationship between parents and child was somewhat formal. The married woman was also expected to run the household, a responsibility which included governing the servants and entertaining guests, to provide food and organizing the kitchen staff. The fourth responsibility was to be ladylike. This included dressing appropriately, being able to carry a conversation, singing and playing an instrument, and taking care that the house was decorated according to certain standards. The married woman, then, had her everyday life filled by the duties in the house.

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The public sphere was for the most part inhabited by men. There were men-only clubs, men were the only ones becoming lawyers, magistrates, explorers and so on. Women belonged to the domestic sphere. They were wives, mothers, housekeepers, maids and governesses. Because the social standing of a woman was decided by the man who had the responsibility for her, it was important for a woman to marry. A woman who failed to marry often became a burden to her family. Her father would have to take responsibility for her, and when the parents passed away, a brother would have to assume the responsibility for his sister. The only other real option for an unmarried woman of the upper or middle class was to go out and get work as a governess or a lady’s companion and thus live life not as part of a family but not really as a servant either.

2. Pamela and Clarissa Harlowe

In this article we will discuss Pamela’s being rewarded virtues and compare it with Clarissa Harlowe’s novel. A mother of wealthy land owner who gives a job to Pamela as servant and everything starts with that. After the mother of the land owner dies, the young master of the house does his utmost to rope to the girl. Pamela acts so virtuous and intelligent as to save herself against these attacks, finally she is married with his master. This poor girl who is forced to be servant.

This is not a conflict between a poor girl who forced to be servant who has to save herself against his master but also conflict of two different social classes. Pamela who defeat her master in this conflict, became lady of the house where she comes as lady. In this novel, it has been observed that Pamela admire the upper social class people. But due to the religious and moral principle of author, this admiration is hidden. The strongest one of these impulses is sexual one. Pamela is awarded by being able to resist this impulse. Pamela is presented as a perfect example of virtue.

The Lord of the virtuous and chastity, to be protected Mr B.’s bad ambitions remains on the very difficult conditions. In the novel, Mr B. is presented as an unvirtuous person. Although what Mr B. does Pamela does not run away from him. So it is understood that Pamela is honest and virtuous.

The efforts of Mr B. obtaining Pamela or vice versa, For example, Mr B’s raids to Pamela’s room giving some gifts to Pamela this brings big threat for Pamela. But she does not run away from him and when he does something to her, she does herself like to be fainted. However if she wanted to protect her virtues, she could runs away but she did not. Because Pamela also considers her benefits. This novel shows us what we can learn as moral from positive or negative acts. Pamela was a perfect example of virtue. But nobody sees really honest and virtuous girl at present. In our age she is not a pure angel like supporting by Richardson. Pamela is a cunning girl who provokes his master conscious or unconscious. If she is really virtuous girl, she left the house immediately. She only use to cry when Mr B. does here something. And also because of she was scaring she lies others about her feelings. “I was not in a fit, and yet not myself, and I found myself in his arms quite void of strength and he is kissing me” These sentences show Pamela as unvirtuous. Moreover he kidnaps and threats and he does to utmost of him to get her. But Mr B. did not succeed. He knows Pamela better she is named as little hypocrite. He thinks Pamela who considers always her benefits and acts according to them. He is right. Pamela acts like cunning but maybe she does not do it consciously. Because she loves Mr B. and want to marry with him.

Pamela says “I know not how it come, nor when it began; but crept it has like a thief upon me… I cannot help loving him” Pamela love Mr B. But she does not sacrifice himself for love. Because Pamela’s the only wealth of the maiden. Pamela use this situatıon wants to marry Mr B. Nowadays Pamela’s this situation seen as unvirtuous. But it’s the example of Pamela’s age virtuousness. Pamela finally realized the marriage request and Pamela married with Mr B. This novel Richardson was, written for a moral purpose. Clarissa novel has written for this purpose. While we see virtuousness in the novel Of Pamela, We see diseases that causes from immoral behaviors. In brief, the novel of Clarissa is; Clarissa is against to her family that compels to marry her with a man Whom She doesn’t love him. And she takes refuge in a immoral teenager, The name of Lovelace . Lovelace attacks her and Clarissa dies from her sadness. Clarissa had no fault except trusting a man as Lovelace… She was completely a virtuous girl. In the Novel, Pamela lives happily because of being Guile whereas Clarissa -a virtuous girl-grieves after all. Pamela indicates to Mr B. her love and she says her wishes about marriage with him. If she did not offer it to him. Maybe he would rape her. The thing that protects Pamela from this situation can be this after. Clarissa loves Lovelace. But she does not believe herself. So she has conflicts with herself her sentences are “I would not be in love with for the world” or “I could have liked Mr Lovelace above all men”. If Clarissa had told her love, Lovelace would not rape Clarissa. Ä°t can end happy like Pamela. But Clarissa hides her Love.

Although Mr B. gets out of Pamela and tells swearwords to her. She insists an him for her benefits. She cries play same tricks etc. But Clarissa is a virtuous girl, Lovelace want to rape her to obtain her because he expects his family’s pressure And he does it. But According to virtuous people like Clarissa, only death can delete black mark or her honor. She presents very strong attitude on the contrary Pamela. Because of Clarissa Pride, Lovelace is not be able to his aim, and Clarissa both refuses him and condemn herself to death. Maybe ıf she acted like Pamela she would be lady of his house. Pamela does not matter anytime so she marries with Mr B. And also This effort can be about decrease her social class. Its shows Pamela’s unvirtuousness. If we think about Pamela’s marriage. Before marriage, Mr B. present same conditions to Pamela. She accepts everything firstly her position was very passive. After marriage she is real lady of the house where she comes as servant, what she wants. At the first, part of marriage. She is refused by Lady Davers who is lady of the house. Then she gains sympathy of her in a while and she reaches her ambitions. In this novel Ä°t is thought to be awarded to virtuousness. In conclusion, Samuel Richardson’s Pamela is an example of a book which is able to be in different ages and in different styles. In first publishing time, she is seen as innocent and virtuous girl by everybody. But nowadays she is thought as a cunning girl who behaves for aims. She always wants to marry with a rich man. But she never makes her this aim clear. And also she wants to be an upper class person as social statue. Pamela ignores Mr B’s weak character and unvirtuous behaviors. Finally she reaches her goal by convincing to marriage. However she concedes from many things because of this marriage and she obeys her husband unconditionally. There is not a girl who knows what to want of the first parts of the novel. She is a wounded with marriage of Mr. B. through her so-called virtuous. In our age ıt is questioned difference between to be virtuous and to be seemed virtuous.


Ben D. Kimpel. Richardson’s Revisions of Pamela, Studies in Bibliography, 1967.

Hunter, Paul. Before Novels. “The Cultural Contexts of Eighteenth Century English Fiction.” New York: W.W.Norton Company, (1999): 22.

Morris, Golden. Richardson’s Characters. University of Michigan Press, 1963.

Richardson, Samuel. Pamela; or, Virtue Rewarded, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001.

Roy,Porter. English Society in the Eighteenth Century. London: Penguin Books, (1990):

Shoemaker, Robert B. 1650-1850: The Emergence of Separate Spheres,? “Gender in English Society.” Harlow: Longman, 1998.



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