Reading Pamela

Pamela is a very interesting novel to read especially because it is mainly based on letters. Letters are told in the first person; emotions are explained or expressed after the event that is while writing the letter. Had the novel not been a letter, we could have learned more about the the speaker or other characters. Some letters are freely written, but not always. Writing censored letters could lead the writer to hide some of the events, or not to express ones true feelings.

In Pamela we are almost dressed up as Pamela; trying to think like her. We see characters the way she sees them; she is the judge. We are not aware of other facts or characteristics of the characters. The characters in this novel are based on a young lady’s vision or prospective. In fact, not only other characters are examined by her, but also Pamela herself. She is rarely ever seen by others. So, I am getting to know Pamela, in her own eyes, and her own thoughts more than how other people see her as.

She is a young and religious girl who wants to live a decent life. She comes from a working class and low income. She works in a house where things are not turning out the way she was brought up. Her frustration and anger towards the incidents and harassments that she faces daily are the focus of many of her letters. However, how she truly sees the master is not clear in her letters. Does she carry any love for him? Otherwise why did she not find another place?

When he gives up on her, and cannot get what he wants, he ends up marrying her. This is an indication that there might be interest between Pamela and this man. However, she has not expressed that feeling in her letters. While she expresses her content and satisfaction of serving in this house, she might also have interest in receiving a better status. Having a higher rank certainly was not her main goal, but she has the interest in changing her status.

So many things are missing or unknown in these letters. When one talks about oneself, it is hard to express the true feelings or even face one’s own. The letters are sometimes hard to grasp because we do not always understand ourselves or our feelings. When denying our feelings or thoughts, we do not write about them. What we write is what we feel comfortable writing or expressing about. And, we are certainly welling to reveal it to our readers.

Pamela seems to have a hidden agenda. She sets her goals to gain a better status. The strategy was finding the man who has some wealth or better status. This way no more men will harass her, and no more working in the house as a servant. She did not wish to become a slave. Had she submitted herself to the man she loves, -if she did-, she would have been enslaved by love. Once she protected her honor, it was hard to own her body without marriage.

There are many layers reading any novel. Presenting the story in letters makes them harder to understand or know the full story of the characters.

3 thoughts on “Reading Pamela

  1. Interesting. Pamela is limited by her own perspectives and views, but this novel seems to have many layers. It is interesting how the sense of audience, and who this novel was intended, is another factor to consider.

  2. As you have pointed out, the whole book is all about Pamela in her perspective. Your point inspired me to this question: Can we assume what Pamela is trying the hide is Richardson’s dark inner thoughts? Perhaps, I just guess, maybe he fantasises himself to be in a position of Mr.B: Find a perfect girl, lock her up, try different ways to rape her, at last if not successful, still have the option of marrying her. He’s having her one way or another, would that be a perfect world for Richardson himself? Is that also why he couldn’t take it easy when Shamela was created?

  3. I would agree that Pamela wants to set herself up for an upgrade, marriage wise. But I would have to add to your point that her letters are filtered, because she’s writing to her parents. We should consider that perspective, which I think makes your points about Pamela hiding her feelings all the more interesting. She’s a young woman who cannot (?) truly divulge her feelings the way she may wish, her only outlet seems to be her parents. Which makes me wonder if Mr. B initially behaves in the way Pamela claims.

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