Virtue Rewarded What?

Richardson has made this book reads like a propaganda of a specific religion moral standard, rather than a love story novel. In critical eyes of the modern world, some parts could be annoying and repeating. In the first part of the book, the deepest impression thing, unfortunately, seems to be Mrs.Jewkes’s arm: “She has a huge hand, and an arm as thick as my waist, I believe.”(266)
The story itself is quite hard to understand: the hopeless male leading role kept trying to take Pamela’s chastity and did all the other offensive things to be disgusted. Pamela repeatedly “yells” at her parents in the letter that how she will protect her virtue, and how pure she is. Then the guy suddenly decides to marry Pamela, Pamela happily agreed and couldn’t be more grateful. I would say the logic is somehow ridiculous, even weird.
Richardson preaches to female to protect their chastity and see it as the most precious thing they ever had, which is even more important than life itself. Marriage was given as a reward for virtue; he is telling the female not to lose the only bargaining chip in their hands. Although he didn’t say so, he made marriage sound like a trade, which will not be “fair” unless you keep your chastity. But remembering what I had known from Roxana last week, a marriage of that time does not protect the fundamental rights and interest of female at all. So in the end, what exactly does Pamela get in exchange of her chastity?
Shamela was written to mock and criticize Richardson; Fielding suggests that Pamela is a hypocritical cunning woman who is good at temptation. It doesn’t matter how Richardson insists Pamela’s virtue, nor how Fielding questions Pamela’s inner center, they both can make sense only if you chose to think that way. It is a novel, not real life, both sides have more than enough evidence to claim their correctness, however, nobody, after all, can slip into Pamela’s brain and figure out what exactly was she thinking. But if Fielding was right, wouldn’t it be way too pathetic to deliberately design it all just to lose her chastity in a “correct process” and be owned as a thing?
It is interesting to see these originators of the novel, and to know how exactly the details of the society was in the history, I have learned and feel lots of things that would look rather pale if on a history page.
And also, how the author deals with their intention is interesting, in this particular book, Pamela, it feels like the author failed or didn’t want to hide his intention from the reader at all. Virtue Rewarded:”Readers who pay for my book and do as I wrote will get to marry a wealthy guy.” If readers do as he told, the results seem to suggest Fielding is right, at least about the followers.

4 thoughts on “Virtue Rewarded What?

  1. I think your analysis is justified. The author’s intent is definitely questionable, but we also have to consider readership and how authors were not supported by nobility to have assistance in their craft, but rather authors had to draw on what appealed to their audience. It is questionable, whose perspective should we take, the protagonist’s or the author’s in understanding the writer’s intended message. Of course, the writer will have a moral ending which appeals to a wider population of society.

  2. I understand your view to this novel. And, I share some of your questions. There are some unjustified actions and events in this novel that made me also wonder. However, when reading this novel, we need to either go back in time, or go outside of our Western View. If you go to the East, we will witness similar stories in real life. Women in the Arab world do not want to or wish to submit themselves because that will not lead to marriage. This was also the case centuries ago in the West. So, we need to look into this novel not at the current time, but old days. Now, what I completely agree with you 100%; why him???
    That Virtue and Honor that Pamela is protecting should have received a better match. Again, if I go back in time, he sounds like he is almost a playboy. So, is it fair to have a pure lady marrying a person like him?
    He lacks good manners, but he seems to be the one who was rewarded after all!!
    I truly liked your thoughts, because even while I was writing this reply, I’m still reading deeper to your thoughts. May I say, Virtue Rewarded to the one who had none.

  3. This post (and Sana’s reply) begins to bring an important question into focus–what is the reward for virtue, and what does that virtue look like in Mr. B– or in Pamela? We must keep in mind that these authors, in addition to writing entertaining stories, are also operating on an ideological level–they are shaping belief. We may not believe it today (or, rather, we may like to think we don’t), but these stories have profound impact on understandings of gender, of class, of power, of morality, of conduct, and the various rewards (and punishments) that can be incurred.

    *NB: Don’t forget that all we have here are excerpts, and there’s a lot more in the novel than what we’ve read!

  4. I like your feels about this reading! It does seem like a lot of women of this era only have their chastity as a bargaining chip, and are often times not receiving the better half of the deal.

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