Gaile T. Mann

Dr. Samantha Morgan-Curtis

English 5330

6 December 2007

Theme: Dispossession

     One of the themes than can be found in the second edition of “Pamela; or Virtue Rewarded” is that of dispossession.  Dispossession is the lack of a fundamental right to the necessary comforts and benefits to make the experiences of life enjoyable, safe, profitable, and fulfilling.  Dispossession can come in the form of poverty, being orphaned/abandonment, imprisonment , enslavement, or a lack of emotional and mental stability.

     Pamela experienced dispossession in several ways.  She was not paid wages, she was orphaned, imprisoned, enslaved,  had low self esteem (other than her virtue), she was a servant, and she lacked a will of her own at times.  These annotations will help the reader understand the Pamela’s thoughts and why she behaved the way she did in the various settings that she encountered.  


12.2  “For he has given Mourning and Year’s Wages to all my Lady’s Servants; and I having no Wages as yet, but what my Lady said she would do for me as I deserv’d, order’d the House-keeper to give me Mourning with the rest, and gave me with his own Hand Four golden Guineas, besides the lesser Money, which were in my old Lady’s Pocket when she dy’d; and said, If I was a good Girl, and faithful and diligent, he would be a Friend to me, for his Mother’s sake.”  All of the Mr. B’s servants lived with dispossession, but Pamela is even more so than the rest.  She did not receive wages, but was only given what Mr. B’s mother thought she deserved and given the change left in her [Mr. B’s mother’s] pocket.  Mr. B. also promised to be a friend to her [Pamela], as if  being a friend to her compensated for the human right to get paid.  Pamela’s had no human worth to Mr. B. and his mother other than her servitude to them.

25.12  “when I was but twelve Years old”  Pamela is speaking about when she went to

live with Mr. B’s mother.  Pamela had to leave her parents at an early age. The concept of  children being used as profitable free labor can be seen in Jonathan Swift’s “A Modest Proposal”. “therefore whoever could find out a fair, cheap, and easy method of making these children sound, useful members of the commonwealth would deserve so well of the public, as to have his statue set up for a preserver of the nation” (2592).

111.14 “My wicked Bed-fellow [Mrs. Jewkes] has very punctual Orders it seems; for she locks me and herself in, and ties the two Keys (for there is a double Door to the Room) about her Wrist, when she goes to Bed.”  Mrs. Jewkes is following Mr. B’s orders to keep a close eye on Pamela. Women were prisoners of the times in which they lived during the eighteenth century in that they were not free to live personally fulfilled lives through proper education and choosing an occupation that suited them.  Pamela was imprisoned mentally and than physically. 

 200. 15 “and she [Mr. B’s mother] put me to sing, to dance, to play on the Spinnet, in order to divert her melancholy Hours; and  also learnt me all manner of fine Needle-work;”  In the article  “The Blue-Stockings: Getting It together”, Jeannine Dobbs states that “Needlework, dancing, and music could be employed to please men and were considered proper “studies”; science, history, and philosophy were not” (82).

 274.23  “that he would by slower Degrees bring on my happiness, lest I should not know how to bear it.  Pamela was so deficit of self-confidence that didn’t believe that she deserved the happiness.

285.29  “O Madam, said I, [Pamela] I hope my good Master’s Favour will never make me forget that it my Duty to wait upon his Friends.  Pamela is so indoctrinated with the servant mentality that she couldn’t feel comfortable unless she was serving.  Mr. B’s mother groomed her to serve.  

330.29  “I said, his Will and Pleasure should determine mine; and I never would, as near

as I could, have a Desire after those, or any other Things that were not in his Choice. 

Pamela was willing to be forgo her right to have desires of her own.  William Blackstone who wrote the codifer of English law stated that “in marriage, husband and wife are one person, and that person is the husband”(2131).  Even thought Pamela was not yet married to Mr. B, this was her perception of marriage.

331.32  “God teach me Humility, and  to know my own Demerit! Here Pamela refers to her weaknesses.  Women were considered the fair sex or the weaker vessel.  She only wants to improve herself so that she can please Mr. B.

336.13  “For, alas! Sir, I am so much oppressed by your Favours, and the Sense of the Obligations I owe you, that I cannot look up with the Confidence that I otherwise should, on this awful Occasion.”  Pamela was so devoid of the fundamental necessities humankind that she wasn’t able to be happy when good things were happening in her life.

339.33 “serve him with a sincere Obedience.”  “Some women in eighteenth-century England were aware that the education and social conditioning of women were destructive and that men desired this effect because it was an easy way to keep women submissive (82).  Pamela was a servant that had been educated by Mr. B’s mother to be a gentle woman as if she [Pamela] had been born one.  Mr. B’s taught Pamela what she herself had learn about the proper behavior for women in relation to men.


     Preparing these annotations gave me an opportunity to understand why women during the Age of Reason behaved and thought the way they did.  The main cause of their shallow, childlike, unintelligible behavior was due to the lack of a proper education.  The systematic indoctrination of illiteracy and lack of reasoning was perpetuated by the men of the society in which the lived.  Hopefully from these notes the reader will grasp the sense of how unfulfilled women were during this period.  A careful look at our society today will reveal that some women are lacking the reasoning ability needed to live a fulfilled life. 

Works Cited

Sherman, Stuart, and David Damrosch. Eds. The Restoration and the Eighteenth Century. 3rd


      ed. Vol.1C of The Longman Anthology of British Literature. Ed Stuart Sherman. New York:


      Pearson Longman, 2006. 2131 2592


Dobbs, Jeannine. “The Blue Stockings: Getting It Together.” Frontiers: A Journal of Women   


          Studies. Vol. 1, No. 3. (Winter, 1976): 82

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