Samuel Richardson's "Pamela" or "Virtue Rewarded" Analytical Essay by Madame Mimi

Samuel Richardson's "Pamela" or "Virtue Rewarded"
A close look at the role of women in the 18th century as depicted in Samuel Richardson's "Pamela" or "Virtue Rewarded".
# 2253 | 1,945 words | 1 source | 2001 | US
Published on Oct 16, 2001 in Literature (English) , English (Analysis) , Women Studies (General)

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A paper on the role of women in late 18th century Britain as seen in Samuel Richardson?s "Pamela", or "Virtue Rewarded". The author discusses the developing concept of women as property, showing women's economic position in this period, what was socially acceptable, and how romantic love could change a woman's position.

From the Paper:

?For the future, I will always mistrust most when appearances look fairest,? said Pamela in the first line of this section of the novel. It could be that Richardson was using this line symbolically to predict the entire future of Pamela's life. As Mr. B's wife she would no longer have to fear being "undone" or ?ruined.? Appearances would look very fair indeed, but if Pamela looked deep into her own heart she would have to mistrust. She would have to know that one way or another her virtue had been purchased. Call it seduction, call it rape, call it marriage. Pamela's body had been bought. Mr. B's mother said ?My good Pamela, be virtuous.? She treated her as if she were "a gentlewoman." Pamela, however, was not a gentlewoman. She was born to another class, and there is only one way she could become a gentlewoman. In the 18th century social mobility came to a woman only through selling her body. Mr. B. said, ?Be not virtuous, Pamela.? Whether he bought her with diamonds, or with a marriage contract, Pamela was destined to be purchased. She could only become a gentlewoman by selling her body, but without virtue that commodity would have been useless."

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