Thursday, September 8, 2011

For Credit: Pamela Grab-Bag

Feel free to answer any of the questions below in your response--just specify which you are responding to! You can also respond by reflecting on or modifying a classmate's response (but as always be kind and collegial).

1. What sort of a person is Pamela? How would you characterize her? (Cite some text to support your assessment).

2. Does Richardson want us to see Mrs. Jervis as a good character or a bad character? What makes you think so?

3. What sort of an actor should play the character of Mr. B in a movie version of this novel? Don't just name a plausible actor--explain what particular qualities that actor brings to the screen that would be particularly suitable for Mr. B.

Deadline: start of class on Tuesday (9/13); posts before midnight Saturday count for Week 3; after midnight Saturday it's week 4.


  1. The person Pamela loves second to her parents is Mrs. Jervis, an individual who has become a second parent and guardian to this beautiful young girl. I cannot help but feel that Richardson gives us a rather critical view of Mrs. Jervis. Although I wish not to see her as a malevolent character, as an older and supposedly wiser individual, her selfishness and na├»ve nature cannot be forgiven. In the beginning, I simply saw her as a Pollyanna… Later on in the novel, however, I now believe that she is far more devious.

    Her duty as companion and guardian to the young Pamela, is to advise her accordingly. Many times, Pamela has decided to leave, and yet, upon Mrs. Jervis’s urgings, she does not. Mrs. Jervis complains about Pamela leaving her and tries to convince her to stay, believing that the Master will not offend her again. Pamela, a girl of just fifteen, realizes that he may feel guilty after the first, second, third, fourth… etc. times of his offense. She seems to be more aware of his insidious plans while Mrs. Jervis, either legitimately believes in his goodness or feigns it in order to keep the company of the woman she claims that she loves as her “daughter. ” “Nay, Pamela, said she, don’t imagine that I should be accessary to your Ruin for the World. I can say, that he has yet done you no Hurt” (42, Richardson). Not only does she try to convince young Pamela to stay, but it seems as though she even purposefully does put Pamela in harms way. On page 81, Mrs. Jervis sends Pamela to fetch paper from her room. As Pamela realized that there was no paper, she saw the Master’s back and immediately locked the door. Pamela then exclaims “O Mrs. Jervis, said I, what have you done by me?- I see I can confide in nobody” (81, Richardson). From this, I believe that Pamela thinks that Mrs. Jervis knew that the Master was waiting for Pamela. She knowingly led the “pig to the slaughter.” However, it is also possible, that the Master hid without Mrs. Jervis’s knowledge… What do you guys think? Is Mrs. Jervis simply a woman who believes in the goodness of her Master or her ability to stand between Pamela and Ruin or do you think that she may be secretly jealous of Pamela and be part of a scheme to devise her ruin?

  2. In the beginning of the book I first thought Pamela to be a naive character who has just be thrown into a world that she is not used to being apart of. She thinks that her "master" is such a good man and that he can basically do no wrong. She says things like "I hope the 'squire has no design..." and "For it has made my heart, which overflowing with gratitude for my young master's goodness..." and "for what could he get by ruining such a poor young creature as me?" These statements make me feel like she is giving him too much credit and is being too open to someone who she doesn't know. Is any information given in the text that she has had any previous interaction with him to know if he is a gentle and kind person? If so, I definitely missed that section of the novel. The tone of her letters are overbearingly (if that's a word) submissive. She seems to rarely think of herself, but rather that her family is secure and have enough finances to survive on. As I read further into her letters and her master commits this offense that I am still unsure about exactly, I find that Pamela is developing a voice for herself. He gets extremely angry with her when he finds out that she is telling people what he did to her, yet she retaliates, calmly it seems like. "Then, sir, said I, why should your honour be so angry I should tell Mrs. Jarvis, or anybody else, what passed, if you intended no harm?" That is an excellent point. She seems to use her words in a way that is clever enough to get him upset with her and when that happens his power starts to diminish. He gets to the point where he does not want her apart of the house, which Pamela really seems to want.

  3. When Pamela's employer, Lady B dies she is so upset since she had a great relationship to her. She seems so sweet and almost naive for when her employer died, Pamela thanked God for being able to have her son as her new master. "But God, who's graciousness to us we have often experienc'd at a Pinch, put it into my good Lady's heart." She seemed so excited to have a male master regardless of the fact he was a bachelor and she was a beautiful young woman. Even when her parents tried to warn her about young men's intentions, she waved it off. "Oh! that fatal word, that he would be kind to you, if you would do as you should do, almost kills us with fears." Pamela's parents feared that her master and an ulterior motive for why he was being so generous. However, she responded with a confidence and trusting attitude towards the man she would learn to hate. Even when Lady Davers wants to take Pamela to her house because it is not fit for a beautiful young lady to live with a bachelor, Pamela does not realize that he does this because of his passion for her. I feel Pamela finally matures and sees her Master's true colors when he first kisses her in the summer house. She protests the kiss and he becomes very angry. From this point Pamela is forced to grow up fast and realize what kind of dangerous situation she is in. She soon turns from a niave sweetheart into a young woman fighting for the freedom of her own life. She begs to leave many times, which shows how persistent and family oriented she is.

  4. Pamela comes across as a very naive character in the beginning of the novel. In her third letter, Pamela writes, "My master is very affable to me. As yet I see no Cause to fear any thing...Yet there is a secret Pleasure one has to hear one's self praised" (15). Her character, though very cautious, is unable to follow her own intuition about her master's intentions. She continues to tell herself that he has no dangerous intentions, even though it seems as if she may be suspicious. In addition, it comes across childish that she discloses these inappropriate occurrences to her parents- though young, she is old enough to remove herself from the situation without giving her parents every detail. Pamela's character is very frustrating to observe for the very reason that she is unable to make her own decisions. Although she acts very victimized, I feel that there is a lot about her that is yet to be discovered. She seems to know what is going on, and what her master's intentions are, but she doesn't seem eager to make actual changes to her situation. She appears to be very naive, but I don't know if that is a facade to make the reader believe that she really is trying to protect her virtue. I am sure as I read further, more will be revealed.

  5. "Mrs. Jervis could not help mingling Tears with my Tears; for I cry'd all the Time I told her the Story; and begg'd her to advise me what to do; and I shew'd her my dear Father's two letters, and she praised the Honestry and Inditing of them..." (26)

    While reading lines like these, I feel as though Pamela is a very naive girl. Not in her relationship with her master, but she's fifteen and I think she loves to be praised. Even in the beginning of the novel, she writes her mother and father about how she is the apple of every one's eye and that everybody likes her because she's virtuous and blah-blah. Even when the master takes her letter (something private) she doesn't show too much concern for that but feels great when he told her she's a good writer. Him reading her letter was the beginning of "ownership" and her losing control, but being fifteen, she is sort of overjoyed that somebody thinks she's a great writer. I feel like she is constant need to feel good about herself. And she shamelessly shares the compliments she received from others to her parents.

  6. I believe that Mr. B would need to be played by an actor that can accurately portray a sense of conflict within the mind. Mr. B is a gentleman whose desires are limited by his station in life, and I believe that this gives his character a sense of (very) slight desperation. The actor would need to have an innocent appearance, yet a darker personality. In my mind, I am seeing the late Heath Ledger as an actor who can portray all of these qualities.

  7. Pamela is a complex character. It originally appears that she is frightened by Mr. B's predatory advances, yet she fails to remove herself from the situation. Maybe I am looking at this from a 21st century perspective where I am not forced to work for a man who molests and appears to desire to rape me. Pamela continually debates in her letters the best way to leave, but it seems as though she is always stalling and forestalling her departure. At times, Pamela is concerned with her "virtue" and her "goodness," but then at others, she is concerned for the reputation of the man who put her in a position where it appeared as though he would rape her. She says that she fears him, but she simultaneously dislikes when he is short with her. She says that she does not want his attentions, but she dislikes when his attention is removed.

    As of right now, I think Pamela knew he letters were being intercepted and read. Of course she knew one was taken, but I am starting to think that she was expecting all of them to be read and included information in her letters for a very specific reason.

    Part of me believes that she denied Mr. B's advances only for appearance. And it seems as though she wrote in her letters that she hated the attention because she knew someone would be reading them other than her parents. Maybe she was playing hard to get.

    As of right now, I think Pamela is shrewd, cunning and manipulative.

  8. I think that John Hamm would play an excellent Mr. B. His character needs to be someone with actions that can either be read as suave and gentlemanly, or mischievous and deceitful. I think that John Hamm could do a great job of this. He often plays characters that seem charming and handsome, but with a dark side that is later made apparent.