In his novel, Pamela, Samuel Richardson suggests something that would have been considered ludicrous at the time in which his novel was published – he proposes that men should choose their wives not for their money or social standing, but for their virtue. He then makes yet another shocking suggestion by implying that the only way in which members of the upper class can learn to be virtuous is via the lower class. That is, he suggests that the lower class must teach the upper class how to be virtuous. Richardson makes these suggestions, which would have been considered wild in the eighteenth century, by creating a story that is arguably even more ridiculous than the intimations Richardson is making. Richardson’s tale of a young servant doggedly resisting the sexual advances of her master, only to eventually compel him to marry her would have seemed as unlikely to eighteenth-century readers as a story about Martians landing on Earth would seem to contemporary readers. However for readers to deeply consider Richardson’s suggestions regarding society, they must find the story in which the suggestions are imbedded to be somewhat believable (Endnote 1). Recognizing the implausibility of his story and the fact that despite the implausibility, readers must find his story at least somewhat probable to even begin to consider its implications, Richardson employs a variety of different tactics in an effort to achieve some semblance of verisimilitude. He strives for this verisimilitude through inserting letters to the editor at the beginning of the novel, which stress the supposed veracity of the incidents portrayed, having the plot unfold in an epistolary form, and attempting to make the action ...
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...is unrecognizable to others, but the fact that he is unrecognizable to Pamela is sufficient to establish that this scene contains elements of the masquerade.
Castle, Terry. "The Carnivalization of Eighteenth-Century English Narrative." PMLA 99.5 (1984): 903-916.
Flint, Christopher. "The Anxiety of Affluence: Family and Class (Dis)order in Pamela: Or, Virtue Rewarded." Studies in English Literature 29.3 (1989): 489-514.
Harris, Martin. “The ‘Witchcraft’ of Media Manipulation: Pamela and The Blair Witch Project.” Journal of Popular Culture 34.4 (2001). ArticleFinder. 21 Apr 2005
Richardson, Samuel. Pamela. New York: Oxford UP, 2001.
McIntosh, Carey. “Pamela’s Clothes.” ELH 35.1 (1968): 75-83.
Turner, James G. "Novel Panic: Picture and Performance in the Reception of Richardson's Pamela." Representations 1.48 (1994): 70-96.
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