Friday, September 23, 2011

For Credit: Pamela Follow-Up

We never got around to "Material for Discussion" question (a), which asked you to identify a couple of Squire B's "Rules" for Pamela (on pp. 448 - 451) that either demonstrate a halt to her process of growth, maturation, and self assertion OR demonstrate its continuation.

Your answers identified a lot of different ways of understanding these rules!
These rules show a halt in Pamela asserting her worth, but her that she has grown in her self-worth (Rule 20 and 22)
Beng married in this time came with so many intricacies and implications: maybe it was in fact the mature thing to be complacent, however twisted that may be.
Her action of writing her husband's lecture down not only shows her sincere effort to understand and serve her husband...but also helps her to identify what she disagrees with or finds challenging to comprehend.
All of the rules...have to do with her relationships to others....what this book shows as "moral" or "growth" isn't her personal growth, but her societal growth in her position as a wife and mother.
They halt her growth...[rules 2 and 37]...She simply accepts him as the better person worthy of more consideration.
It's worth noting that Pamela does not accept these rules uncritically!  She includes her commentary as she evaluates them carefully.  Among the things she's looking for as she reads: evidence that Squire B is holding himself to a similar standard of thoughtfulness and respect (and she finds it).  Also note the rules on how they will raise a child.  Squire B is aware of his faults and excesses and does NOT want to raise a Squire B, Junior, who will misbehave in the same way (and he believes that Pamela's habits of self-discipline and virtue will help to mold the child in a different image than his own.

So what about Sally Godfrey?  What is she doing in this story?  Does Pamela's reaction to Squire B's sordid past confirm the interpretation of those who view Pamela as a willing participant in her own oppression?  Or does it convey the kind of independence and mutuality that I argue can be found in the "Rules"?

Deadline: Start of class Tuesday (9/27); posts before Saturday midnight count towards Week 5; after that, they're Week 6.


  1. Pamela’s ability to sympathize with Sally Godfrey is granted through her newly gained social position. Pamela pities the “fallen woman “because of she serves as a contrast to the Pamela’s stability through a legitimate marriage and the happiness that accompanies it:
    “Do you think, my dear Father and Mother, there ever was so happy a Creature as I! To be sure it would be very ungrateful to think with Uneasiness, or any thing but Compassion, of poor Miss Sally Godfrey” (469).

    If Pamela was being submissive, she would have dismissed Squire B.’s past as he asked her to do. Even though she keeps silent while around Squire B. (this silence could be taken as an act of submission, but I think Pamela is simply being respectful and thoughtful by enabling her husband reconcile with his sister first), she actively allows herself to contemplate on Sally Godfrey:
    “This poor Miss Sally Godfrey, I wonder what’s become of her, poor Soul! – I wish he would, of his own Head, mention her again” (441).
    “How soon the Name and Quality of a Wife gives one Privileges, in one’s own Account!” (437)

    Miss Goodwin is not Pamela’s daughter but she is still Squire B’s offspring. By embracing and raising Miss Goodwin in ways of grace and be “form’d by [her own virtuous] example,” (499) Pamela is not reminding her husband of one of his rules but influences her husband to be a better person and set things right with his past wrongdoing.
    “15. That undutiful and perverse Children make bad Husbands and Wives; And, collaterally, bad Masters and Mistresses.” (449).
    Even though Miss Goodwin is not publicly revealed as Squire B.’s daughter, Pamela takes her virtue and good grace to another level by elevating both Squire B. and Miss Goodwin in a way that cannot be observed by the public and simply doing it out of her generosity. Her contribution to the moral elevation of her husband is Pamela’s gift for Squire B. for giving her social and material elevation.

    Sally Godfrey ultimately serves as an agent in the story to develop and reveal Pamela’s independence and the confidence she gains for her innate goodness to make changes in her community through her legitimate and honorable marriage.

  2. p.s. Pamela’s act of taking Miss Goodwin into her household also parallels her making sense out of the “rules”. She accepts the rules given by her husband but makes them her own by questioning and evaluating them, adding her thoughts and interpretation to each one. While she accepts Squire B.'s past and does not bring Sally Godfrey into his life again, in order for her to fully honor her husband she makes sure that he is established as a husband who deserves her sincere love and respect by helping him to clean up his past mistake to move forward.

  3. I guess Sally Godfrey serves as sort of model or Pamela to be contrasted from. I also believe that it can seem like Pamela is being submissive after she found out about Squire B's past, but I feel like she is simply keeping to herself about the matter as choice of hers, not because the Squire ordered her too. By not reacting or saying anything about the matter, she contains some kind of power over how she thinks and reacts to the Squire and how he treats her.

  4. I agree with Jalisa that Sally Godfrey is a character that contrasts greatly with Pamela. Although she was also the victim of Squire B's seduction, it is her final doing, and her failure to reject his attempts that eventually lead her down a lesser path than that of Pamela, who is rewarded by getting Squire B's hand in marriage (while Sally's punishment is a child out of wed-lock). I must say that I feel like Richardson is trying to teach the reader a lesson through contrasting these two characters. He placed them both in similar circumstance, but proved that by staying true to your own "moral goodness" will be rewarded in the end, while risky behavior in women gets punished.
    As far as Squire B's rules go, knowing that marriage was the way it was in the eighteenth century (much different from today), I can't quite say that they are oppressive, especially considering the fact the Squire B has brought Pamela up in rank through marriage- perhaps ground rules for conduct are necessary. I also think that Robin brings up a good point: their marriage becomes quite balanced through these rules; where he gives her social status, she brings to him a sense of moral lessons and moral goodness that was most definitely absent prior to his marriage to her. I do not think that these rules halt her growth, for the very fact that I do not see much growth in her throughout, true that she falls in love with him but her virtue is something she valued from the beginning, and she was always considered to be a "morally good" character, so in what ways has she changed aside from her social status? The only genuine growth I see in her is her station in society, so if we are speaking of that change, then these rules he makes do help her.

  5. I agree that Sally Godfrey serves as a contrast for Pamela. Her character shows us Mr. B's past and how he has change from the person he was. Sally also serves to show Pamela's evolved character as well, so I agree with Jalisa in that respect. Pamela keeps quiet I think more because she recognizes the change Mr B has gone through. Sally represents his past mistakes and his growth since. As such, this indicates Pamela's capacity of forgiveness and understanding as well because she accepts the past.