Final Project –Web Presentation
Due Date: 12/6/07
Pamela: “The Transformation of an Eighteenth Century Girl to an Eighteenth Century Woman Through the Eyes of a Twenty-First Century Woman”
“For it has made my heart, which was overflowing with Gratitude for my young master’s Goodness, suspicious and fearful; and yet I hope I never shall find him to act unworthy of his character; for what could he get by ruining such a poor creature as me?”
Naïve Pamela questions her Master’s goodness as the novel begins. He has, since his mother has died, treated Pamela so well. He has given her the finest things and treated her with the highest of respect. She does not want to trust him too much, but she does not want to distrust him either. In addition, she is brainstorming on what on earth her master could get out of ruining such a poor maiden as her. Her mind is not developed enough to understand that people do harm to others for no reason. She has not experienced this yet; she only knows what she has been taught.
Furthermore, this type of response is conducive for women in the Eighteenth Century, however, contradicts the mind of a Twenty-first Century woman. The Twenty-first Century woman would already know or suspect the unworthiness that he could bestow. For in this century, most young women have been taught not to trust men or would be so elated to the fine gifts that suspecting would not be considered.
“So, like a fool, I was ready to cry, and went away curcheeing and blushing, I am sure up to the ears; for there was no harm in what he said, yet I did not know how to take it.”
Pamela has no prior knowledge or experience with how to deal with a man. She is in very unfamiliar territory. She thinks there was no harm in what he said, but simultaneously blushes and just about cries. The immature Eighteenth Century young girl is confused, which is normal for any girl of this age. All she has is her religious knowledge and what she has been taught by her mother and father. This quote is proof that she is not psychologically and socially ready to accept an opposite sex relationship yet. The thought has never passed her mind. Pamela is used to Mrs. Fervis being with her for without her there to accept the gifts with her, Pamela feels awkward. She is in unfamiliar territory so she was ready to cry.
As a Twenty-first Century reader, I thought just accept the gifts and get out of there, or she should not have enlightened him with her presence if she was uncomfortable without Mrs. Fervis. During the Eighteenth Century, she obeyed her master diligently. This day and time, women do not give men as much authority over them.
“O my dear Mother! I am miserable, truly miserable! But yet don’t be frightened, I am honest! – God, of his goodness, keep me so!”
It is quite natural for girls in the Eighteenth Century to seek their mother when need help or clarification. Pamela explains to her mother how she feels miserable, but on the other hand explains to her not to be frightened. She tells her mother not to be frightened because she does not want her mother to think to worst, which would be that she has lost her virtue. Loosing her virtue and honesty would be the very worst. She prays to God to keep her identical to her current state of virtue and honestly. However, she is miserable because she is scared that he master has changed from being this “gentleman” of the opposite and has lowered himself. Her parents attempted to warn her previously, but he was evidently did not want to believe that he could possibly want to harm a poor servant as her.
A woman of today’s time would not have made a big deal out of it and continued to stay in his presence. It is hard for a woman of the Twenty-first Century to just stay under the control of someone and be so miserable and frightened for these reasons. Now there are situations where women do stay in situations where they are miserable, but not for the same reasons as Pamela. Pamela cannot go anywhere. She is almost like a slave, and this state is legal/normal for women during the Eighteenth Century. Furthermore, this is clearly not normal in today’s society; if a woman stays and she is miserable, it is definitely her choice not force. Otherwise, this is seen as harassment, and there are ways to remedy harassment.
“And I’d have you know, that I can stoop to the ordinary’st Work of your Scullions, for all these nasty soft Hands, sooner than bear such ungentlemanly Imputations.”
Pamela here explains that she would rather stoop to the lowest level in society than to deal with a man that is consistently suggesting and attempting to harass her. The mental state of the eighteenth century females is the worst idea is someone taking their innocence away. In efforts to ensure that does not occur, Pamela voices to her Master she can go home where she may be poor but she will still have her virtue and innocence. This is not cute to her; she is truly miserable because she is not ready to even think about imputations as such.
At this point, the woman reader of today is frustrated; either deal with it and shut up or leave. It is hard for many intelligent Twenty-first century women to fathom enduring what makes you miserable just to be a dutiful servant.
“O the unparellel’d Wickedness, and Stratagems, and devices of those who call themselves Gentlemen, and pervert the Design of Providence, in giving them ample Means to do good, to their own Perdition, and to the Ruin of poor oppressed Innocence.”
As Pamela writes to her parents, she begins to question all men who call themselves gentlemen who do the devils work even though they have ample opportunity to be Godly. She believes that her Master’s goal is to ruin her and steal her innocence. This is again the worst possible thought of Pamela’s. She explains this in the letters to her parents because she does not want them to hear of anything untrue. She wants to stay honest with her parents at all times. The Eighteenth Century young woman only has her virtue and innocence and once that is gone, she is done. Simultaneously, her vocabulary is strong for a girl of her age, but she socially and psychologically is not mature enough to receive any of his attempts.
Again, if this is the case, if one is so concerned about being done, why stay? Of course the Twenty-first Century woman is thinking quit writing talking about it and tell your parents to come to get you or thinks there has to be some option. Since Pamela is uneducated to this and since it is normal for girls to obey men, she is not able to develop a plan to leave. She has no help or other choice. If she leaves, she risk others attempting to harm her.
“My Master was above Stairs, and never asked to see me. I was glad of it in the main; but he knew, false heart as he is! That I was not to be out if his reach!—O preserve me, Heaven, from his power, and from his Wickedness!”
Pamela is under the presumption that she is about to go home to her mother and father. She is saddened because she has to leave all of her friends, yet sort of elated that he was getting away from her master. She states that her master knew that she was not out of his reach because he has tricked her. He has sent her to another one of his estates. She thought she was happy until she found out where she was headed. This quote is significant because it shows how wicked she believes and proves that her master is and how much this is not attractive to her. It is a prime example for why she should not ever trust him.
“For to rob a Person of her Virtue, is worse than cutting her Throat” (110)
Pamela values her virtue more than she values her life. On the contrary, the
woman of today would loose her virtue over her life any day. Most women of today would not think twice about this matter. This quote is important because it allows the reader to know how much Pamela values her virtue. In addition, the quote is significant in this theme because it shows the developmental level that Pamela cannot even fathom loosing her virginity yet. She does not find any of his actions sincere to any good ending. She believes that her master wants to take her virtue and not do anything of virtue to her. As she speaks to Mrs. Jewkes, Mrs. Jewkes thinks that Pamela is crazy and speaks foolishly, however, Pamela is simply not developmentally, socially, or psychologically ready to accept a relationship of this sort at this point in her life.
“She is broad, squat, pursy, fat Thing, quite ugly, if any thing God made can be ugly; about forty Years old. She has a huge Hand, and an Arm as thick as my Waist, I believe. Her nose is flat and crooked, and her Brows grow over her Eyes; a dead, spiteful, grey, goggling Eye, to be sure, she has… and I am undone, to be sure, if God does not protect me; for she is very, very wicked—indeed she is.”
Pamela truly describes this woman with various man qualities. She depicts Mrs. Jewkes to be this horrible, inside and out, creature. She depicts her in this capacity because Pamela believes that Mrs. Jewkes is helping her master plot to ruin her. This quote is significant because this is another example that Pamela is not ready for a male-female relationship. Pamela’s sole reason for not liking Mrs. Jewkes, at this point, is because Mrs. Jewkes speaks so highly of her master and assists him in ruining her. Pamela seeks a gentlewoman that would encourage her to stay away from men not push her towards one. This is very uncommon for Pamela. Her experience lacks her acceptance to this situation.
“‘Tis out of his Power, said I, to make me happy, great and rich he is, but by leaving me innocent, and giving me Liberty to go to my dear Father and Mother.”
Pamela states here that it is truly and totally out of her master’s power to make her happy. She is speaking to Mrs. Jewkes and correcting her thoughts on her master making her happy. This is yet another example that Pamela is not mentally ready to consider a man making her happy. The only thing that she wants her master to do is allow her to go home, where she knows and trusts that she can keep her innocence and virtue.
At this point, the reader of today would think enough already. Either find a way home or allow this man to be with you. Either way, I would think, one should shut up complaining about it if nothing is going to be done about the situation.
“This sweet Goodness overpower’d all my Reserves. I threw myself at his Feet, and embrac’d his Knees: What Pleasure, Sir, you give me, at these gracious Words, is not lent your poor Servant too express!”
This is one of the first transitions that’s obvious to the reader. The word choice in
which she uses expresses gratitude with him. Before she thought of him as the wicked devil that attempted to take her virtue, but now, he is so good that she cannot contain herself. She hopes that he remains this sweet and if he does she knows that she will fall in love with him.
“And with this ambiguous Saying, he saluted* me in a more formal manner, if I may so say, than before, and lent me his Hand, and so we walk’d towards the House, Side-by-side, he seeming very thoughtful and pensive, as if he had already repented him of his Goodness.”
What a drastic change this is for Pamela. There was not too many pages ago she spoke of how wicked a creature this man was. In addition, how he could not possibly make her happy. She seemed to be very happy here in this scene until she received a letter which gives her another sense of doubt. This quote is significant because it is one of the first examples that the reader can record of Pamela’s transformation from Eighteenth Century girl to Eighteenth Century woman.
“And so I had the Boldness to kiss his Hand. I wonder, since how I came to be so forward; but what could I do? – My poor grateful heart was like a too full River, which over flows its Banks; and it carry’d away my fear and shamefacedness, as that does all before it, on the surface of the Waters! (275)
Not only has Pamela transformed to recognize the opposite sex now, for she is also bold enough to initiate kisses. There was a time that Pamela thought kisses were the worst and that a kiss was an attempt to still her virtue. This is significant because it is important to recognize this transformation of her mental and social state of being. She also recognizes how in love she is despite the fact that she would have never imagined such feelings for this master before. Pamela is growing up.
On the other hand, as a Twenty-first century woman, I am thinking what in the world has possessed Pamela to grow up and accept her Master that has treat her in the manner that the has. It is one thing to mature, and it is another to allow someone to mistreat you yet allow them to gain your confidence in the end.
“And yet my dear Father and Mother, why should I, with such a fine Gentleman! And whom I so dearly love!”
Pamela cannot believe it for herself. It is hard for her making the transformation of womanhood and realizing that she has endured significant change mentally, socially, emotionally, and psychologically. She realizes that she is deeply in love; this contrast with my views all together. As a woman in today’s time, I would think that she could not possibly be in love this quickly unless she was lying previously. Unless, secretly she enjoyed all of the attention her Master gave her. Surely this was not the case because there were specific examples that proved she thought him to be the worst man in the world.
My good dear Master, my kind Friend, my generous Benefactor, my worthy Protector, Oh! All the good Words in one, My affectionate Husband, that is so soon to be, (be curbed in, my proud Heart, know thyself and be conscious of thy Unworthiness! - ) has just left me, with the kindest, tenderest Expressions, and gentlest Behaviour that ever blest a happy Maiden.”
Pamela actually describes this same master as all of these positive connotative adjectives, whereas before, he was every negative connotative adjective. This is significant because it is an example of how her vocabulary and thoughts of how to feel about him has changed from the extreme worst to the best. Pamela totally flips her opinions of him, and he has totally changed his behavior. This is also a great example of how naïve the Eighteenth Century woman truly is. The Twenty-first Century reader thinks that Pamela is not intelligent for attempting such a relationship if he was so horrible at first. Thus, then makes the reader believe that he must have not been horrible at all, and that she was simply to immature to recognize him or any other man for that matter, before.
O How this dear, excellent Man indulges me in every thing! Every Hour he makes me happier, by his sweet Condescension, than the former... I never could have hoped such a good Husband could have fallen to my Lot!
Now the man that was once a villain and practically described earlier in the text as Lucifer himself has become an excellent man. Pamela speaks about her husband as someone she could have never imagined or hoped for. She states that he makes her happier almost by the minute. This quote is significant because in the beginning of the novel (her immature days) she would have never imagined any man and definitely not her master making her happy.
As a reader in today’s society, this is totally unbelievable. What man is capable of such mischief yet changes and becomes a dream come true. This irony changes the entire mood of the novel and together proves the total transformation of this Eighteenth century woman.
“Sir, said I, I will endeavour to conform myself, in all things to your Will.”
She has truly lost her mind to the educated women of the Twenty-first Century. Pamela now views her husband as having total control over her. She informs her husband that she will basically do whatever he wants her to do. This is extremely significant because this is what he has been seeking and training her for all alone. He had to know everything that she was thinking at all times. He had to know what she was doing and here whereabouts. Formerly, she fought him for this, now after her transformation into womanhood, she volunteers it. Poor Pamela has been taught well to the laws of the Eighteenth Century female.
Dear, I will attend you for a little Walk in the Garden; and I gave him my Hand with great Pleasure.”
Totally transformed and married Pamela, walks happily with her man that she never thought in a million year could even make her happy. This is significant because this has an ironic twist to it. As a Twenty-first century reader, there was not an expectation of a happy ending after all Pamela had gone through. Even after the marriage, I would have expected her to treat her quite badly, however she has much pleasure with being with him despite all.
This annotation is derived from the theme of the young girl Pamela transforming as the Eighteenth Century woman. This annotation stems from paraphrasing and inferring of Terry Castles argument of Pamela’s transformation. Pamela moves from despising the idea of her any form of intimacy with her Master. In fact, Pamela has not reached that level of thought yet because of her age and experience. This transformation and the very example of the character of Pamela is one of the best examples of an Eighteenth Century woman.
I propose that this annotation will help others understand the complexity of Pamela’s attitudes and actions. As a Twenty-First Century woman, it was quite difficult for me to happily read about this characters actions and feelings about various experiences within the novel. Through reading various contents within this period, it has aided me to understand why Pamela acted as she acted through the novel. Furthermore, this annotation project should help undergraduates and high school students identify Pamela’s transformation and have a better understanding of why the character of Pamela is portrayed as it is.
Castle, Terry. “Pamela as Sexual Fiction,” Studies in English Literature. 1500-1900, Vol.
22, No. 3. Restoration and Eighteenth Century. (Summer, 1982): pp. 469-489.
Richardson, Samuel. Pamela. New York: Oxford UP, 2001.
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