The author satires the double standards of 18 century UK society towards two groups of people:
1.A male-ruling society double-standard the moral principles of male and female. Relatively lenient on men and harsh on women, yet most female accept this, obedience this, and even helps to maintain the double standards.
“Remember, my dear Evelina, nothing is so delicate as the reputation of a woman; it is at once the most beautiful and most brittle of all human things.”(Villars,183)“O you cannot, must not be so barbarous.” And he took my hand, and ran on, saying such fine speeches, and compliments, that I might almost have supposed myself a goddess, and him a pagan paying me adoration.”(Evelina, About Lord Merton, 124)“And, surely, my dear Sir, it was a great liberty in this lord, not withstanding his rank, to treat me so freely.”(Evelina, also about Merton, 124)“Lord Merton was determined not to know me before Lady Louisa”(Evelina, 321)
2.An authority-worshiping society double-standard the definition of decency for different social classes. Extolling no matter how the higher class acts, and frequently despises lower classes for not following the unspoken rules, and the extreme of reacting are often expressed from a lower class who has just adopted the rules, towards their new peers.
“I confess I seldom listen to the players: one has so much to do, in looking about and finding out one’s acquaintance, that, really, one has no time to mind the stage. ”(Lovel, 89)“No, Sir,” cried I, with some spirit, “I would have that gentleman vote,-if, indeed, he is not superior to joining our party.” They all looked at me, as if they doubted whether or not they had heard me right: but, in a few moments, their surprise gave way to a rude burst of laughter.”(Evelina, 214)
These two similar cases about double standards cached my intention; it seems like there is a pattern in it. I try to take the view of an 18-century citizen of London, to read and discover what has the author hide beneath this pattern.
Limiting my view to an 18-century London citizen, without pulling in modern thoughts, I can still see a pattern here: A group of people that contains group-A and group-B inside, generates an entirely different judgment upon the same action, in the same case, done by an individual form separate groups. What has happened here? Group-A gains the social leading position by whatever way and consciously weakens the status of group-B by setting up double-standard rules, spoken or unspoken. Most individuals of group-B accept, adopt, follow, and at last become a force to straighten the double-standard rule. It may look very understandable(although not agreeable) for group-A to increase their dominance; however, the react of group-B, especially when we see most of the group-B fighting even harder to secure group-A’s superior, that is what makes our day gloomy, indignant, and even desperate. The pattern reminds me of more similar cases repeatedly appears in the history of every nation on our planet, conquerors and the conquered, slaveholders and the slaves, old immigrants and newcomers, the same old drama from thousands of years ago keep on playing till today and pathetically maybe tomorrow.
The emerge of this pattern, in most cases, meaning the completely lost of group B’s independence, and the start of a total slavery, from flesh to soul. But when we come back and take a closer look at these two cases in the book, and try to think about it, it is rather shocking. These two groups, female and male, nobles and citizens, they were NOT different parties at all, they live together from the very beginning. They were split by themselves, by the very same group of people they lived together within the same society! Imagine your right body enslaves your left body, and most parts of your left body seriously think that your right body is more premier than the left. That sounds no smarter than any animal, and it makes me doubt the group intelligence of us as one species.
“it is the general harbour of fraud and of folly, of duplicity and of impertinence”(Villars, 129)
Group intelligence has always been ridiculously ruined by the avarice of some individuals. The only reason that people from group-B will support the double-standard for their own group is the hope of becoming one of group-A and have someone to bully by themselves. As we see in the book, upstarts seek for newer people in the high society to mock on, senior women find younger girls to judge on, and unsuccessful people find the poor to look down upon. All these double-standard actions towards their own group are clearly shameless, immoral, and lacking even a shred of social responsibility.
“Never can I consent to have this dear and timid girl brought forward to the notice of the world by such a method; a method which will subject her to all the impertinence of curiosity, the sneers of conjecture, and the stings of ridicule.”(Villars,142)
Now the logic naturally leads to how to eliminate this idiotic but widespread double-standard and self-division of our society? I am triumphal to see, even with very simple logic and information no further than an 18-century human should obtain, it is not hard to be lead by the book to see a bright spot in the darkness — equality. From here I would say although it’s just a love story, after all, the positive thoughts in this book are far more important to the 18-century society than Pamela is.
“the right line of conduct is the same for both sexes”(Villars, 242)