Samuel Richardson began his literary career when two booksellers offered him the opportunity to amass a publication for unskilled letter writers. While preparing this volume, a small sequence of letters from a young lady asking her father's counsel when endangered by her master's advances, entranced him. His enthrallment resulted in a shift in his work. The result was the tome Pamela; Or, Virtue Rewarded. The book has been subject to much inquiry. One such question critics ask is if the main character, Pamela Andrews, is truly virtuous or a convincing hypocrite. By understanding the character of Pamela, one must conclude Pamela is a truly virtuous young lady.
First, Pamela regards her virtue very highly. In the first letter from her parents, they write, "...the loss of our dear child's virtue would be a grief that we could not bear (46)." Throughout many of their following letters, her parents continue to warn her to be on guard of her virtue. Furthermore, as a poor girl, Pamela's virtue was all she had to offer a future spouse. In one letter, she tells of an account with Mr. B. In this account she says, "For heaven's sake, your honour, pity a poor creature, that knows nothing, but how to cherish her virtue and good name: I have nothing else to trust to (62)." After escaping captivity, she contemplates taking her life before renouncing her virtue.
Moreover, Pamela's virtue stems from her being a devout Protestant Christian. Throughout her letters, Pamela refers to Scripture over thirty times. Furthermore, she calls upon God numerous times in prayer. Moreover, after kidnapping Pamela, Mr. B. detains her for six weeks. Throughout her captivity, Pamela laments n...
... middle of paper ...
...arriage bed is a gift of God. She looks on the prospect of such an established man with joy and happiness.
In conclusion, Pamela's virtue is a virtue of the very highest. She regards it very highly. Second, her virtue takes root in her Protestant Christian heritage. Thus, the Bible would guide her ethics. This high ethical standard manifests itself throughout the attacks of Mr. B. His attacks upset Pamela to a high degree. Outside of marriage, Pamela can never yield her innocence. Moreover, marriage seems impossible. Yet when Mr. B. humbles himself by giving his troth, Pamela becomes excited at the prospect of marriage. When married, she will no longer have any virtue to protect. She will marry as an unsullied bride.
Richardson, Samuel. Pamela; or, Virtue Rewarded. 1740. Ed. T.C. Duncan Eaves and Ben Kimpel. Boston: Houghton, 1971.
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