2/27 Pamela -- Volume II (pp 279-516)
Critical reception paper – Lina
For discussion this week, I would like to address the following topics:
1) how volume two answers (or fails to answer) the expectations of the first volume (literary, aesthetic, moral, political);
2) what role reading plays within the novel and its relationship to the Pamela phenomenon which followed its publication;
3) what strategies
I. Formal elements
What criteria will we use to evaluate the novel? Begin with Watt, but also draw from your experience as readers of other literature.
Recall what Daniel Schwartz writes about Watt: “the extent to which a novel signifies the complexity of the historical, sociological, and cultural aspects in which the author lives becomes an aesthetic standard” (66).
In what ways might you apply this to Pamela?
What are the historical, sociological and cultural aspects of
Try to put in your own words a summary statement of the aesthetic standard for a novel from McKeon's and Warner’s theories (as Schwartz did for Watt). To what extent does Pamela embody these standards?
Note that the epistolary method, while still
important to the action of the novel in the second volume, all but breaks down
as an aesthetic model. What does this
tell you about
One dominant theme of the novel, as the subtitle suggests, is “Virtue rewarded.” In what sense is virtue rewarded? How does the second half of the novel fulfill or fail to fulfill the moral promise of the first volume? How does Pamela’s character change/develop from one to the other? How does Mr. B’s character change/develop from one to the other?
Another theme that emerges somewhat against
How does Pamela “empower” women?
Return to Doody’s
political analysis: Pamela represents rebellion in her resistance, a rebellion
made possible by the emergent values of the bourgeois and philosophy of
claims that “
Return to the issue of amorous novels by women
writers – Behn, Haywood, Barker, Davys. To what
Mr. B writes to Mr. Andrews: “And she [Pamela] has been as free to others, as to you (young girls know no bounds to their vanity!) for she is become a mighty letter-writer” (125).
After reading the middle section of Pamela’s narrative, Mr. B demands to have the rest: “As I have furnished you with a subject, I think I have a title to see how you manage it. Besides, there is such a pretty air of romance, as you tell your story, in your plots, and my plots, that I shall be better directed how to wind up the catastrophe of the pretty novel” (268).
After the second installment, he tells Pamela: “If my mind hold, and I can see these former papers of yours, and that these in my pocket give me no cause to alter my opinion, I will endeavour to defy the world, and the world’s censures, and, if it be in the power of my whole life, make my Pamela amends for all the hardships she has undergone by my means” (276-77).
When Pamela is at the inn waiting to return to her parents she receives a letter from Mr. B indicating a change of heart: “I find it in vain, my Pamela, to struggle against my affection for you. After you were gone, I ventured to look into your journal. Mrs. Jewkes’s bad usage of you, after your dreadful temptations and bruises, affected me greatly: but when in one place I read the unexpected declaration of your generous concern for me, on hearing how narrowly I escaped drowning ….and in another, your most agreeable confession, that notwithstanding all my hard usage of you, you could not hate me; and that expressed in so sweet, so innocent a manner, that I flatter myself you may be brought to love me, I began to regret parting with you….” (285).
“I enjoin you, Pamela, to continue your narrative, as you have opportunity; and though your father be here, write to your mother, that your story may be perfect, and that we, your friends, may read and admire you more and more.” (335)
Mr. B. reports to Mr. Perry in front of Pamela: “I assure you, that my Pamela’s person, lovely as you see it, is far short of her mind. It was indeed her person that first attracted me, and made me her lover; but they were the beauties of her mind, that made me her husband” (427).
After receiving universal praise from company, Pamela records: “and upon my disclaiming a right to this extraordinary compliment, Mrs. Jones was pleased to say, ‘My dear Mrs. B., you deserve more than I can express; for to all who know your story, you must appear to be a matchless person” (430).
When Lady Davers finally listens to Pamela, she concludes: “There is such a sweet simplicity in thy story, as thou tellest it; such an honest artlessness in thy mind, and such an amiable humility in thy deportment, that I believe I shall be forced to love thee, whether I will or not. The sight of your papers, I dare say, will crown the work” (475).
Upon her visiting the local church, she is offered compliments by Mr. Martin: “’You are … an ornament to your sex, an honour to your husband, and a credit to religion. Every body is saying so,’ added he; ‘for you have, by your piety, edified the whole church’” (507).
How does the novel represent reading? What role does reading play for Mr. B? What role does Pamela’s story play for Mr. B? What effect does it have on the local gentry? What effect does it have on Lady Davers? What effect does it have on the entire community?
Samuel Johnson advised James Boswell to read
John Mullan contends that
“sentiment” according to the OED meant both “feeling” – to read
Mullan: “Advocates and (eventually) critics of
sentimental texts were equally conscious that these texts supposedly allowed
the properly sensitive consumer to experience, in the very activity of reading,
those ‘refined and elevated feelings’ to which the OED refers.
“Richard Griffin records his grandmother poring over Pamela as if she were reading her Bible, a connection that was in perfect accord with Richardson’s express intention to bring about a ‘reformation’ by conveying ‘the great doctrines of Christianity’ by way of the novel. Redirecting the century’s widespread belief in the power of reading, sentimental novelists presented their texts as agents of conversion, just as sentimental dramatists did” (Barker-Benfield, Culture of Sensibility, p. 259).
How does the novel model this form of reading? What are some of the effects historically? In terms of literary production? What are some of the problems with this model of reading/morality to which Pamela points?
Who is the audience for Pamela’s letters? What do the readers of Pamela’s letters desire? How do the letters construct desire?
How does this analysis of reading in the novel alter or affect Watt’s understanding of Pamela as an expression of formal realism? To what extent does this novel, as he claims, “serve a fictional initiation rite into the most fundamental mystery of its society” (Rise of the Novel, p. 172).
How does the novel serve the ends of didacticism? Might we argue that sentimentalism in the didactic novel was desired by eighteenth-century readers?
III. Progressive versus Conservative, or the persistence of aristocracy
In some ways
Some critics contend that
The preface suggests that the novel will offer
“practical examples, worthy to be followed in the most critical and affecting
cases, by the virgin, the bride, and the wife” (31). What does the novel have to say about the
latter two conditions? What might the
reader understand as appropriate behavior for each? What does
Wherein does the conflict between older, aristocratic, patriarchal values and newer, bourgeois (Puritan) values take place? What is the nature of the “rebellion” in this text?
If “rebellion” does take place, what is broken or discarded as a consequence? What notion of “family” ultimately prevails? What new or residual class ideologies operate in the conclusion? What new or residual gender ideologies operate?
Examine Mr. B’s “rules” for Pamela and her comments on them (see pp. 467-471). What is the nature of their relationship? What ‘power’ does Pamela exert (materially or textually)? What power does Mr. B possess?