Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Robin Lee Blog Questions: Pamela pg. 1 - 98

Pg. 12
“… in comes my young master! Good Sirs! How as I frightened! I went to hide the Letter in my Bosom…”
Pg. 29
“I Broke off abruptly my last Letter; for I fear’d he was coming; and so it happen’d. I thrust the Letter into my Bosom, and took up my Work…”

Although Squire B does enter Pamela’s dressing room unannounced, she always unsuccessfully tries to hide the letters inside her bust quite clumsily and in the presence of Squire B, therefore giving an opportunity for Squire B to be titillated. Do these moments accentuate the invasion of space by Squire B and his inappropriate behaviors? Or do they reveal Pamela’s conscious or unconscious desire to attract Squire B and create erotic situations for herself?

Pg. 32
“He by Force kissed my neck and Lips and said, Who ever blamed Lucretia, but the Ravisher only? … May I, said I, Lucretia like, justify myself with my Death, if I am used barbarously?”

“O my good Girl! Said he, tauntingly, you are well read, I see; and we shall make out between us, before we have done, a pretty Story in Romance, I warrant ye!”

What is the significance of the allusion to the tale of Lucretia?  Also, what is the significance of the different ways Squire B and Pamela interpreted the outcome of Lucretia’s rape?

Pg. 53
“… Then they all set up a great Laugh. I know what I could have said, if I durst. But they are Ladies – and Ladies may say any thing.

The “Ladies” can “say any thing,” but Pamela can only voice her true thoughts only through her letters. What do you think of the novel’s epistolary form? And what is the relationship between Pamela’s agency and the novel’s form?
How would you view Pamela’s agency if the novel was in a form of a diary? 


  1. I have never read a novel in epistolary form, since I am not an English major, so I find this style very interesting. It gives you an insight into the writer's mind and let's you see experiences from their point of view. I think it would have been a little more helpful with trying to pin point Pamela's exact personality - is she sweet or is she deceitful - if the novel was written as a diary instead. The letters do give the reader a chance to hear situations as she see's them happening, but a diary would give a more private opinion of these events. When writing to her nervous Mother and Father, she does give much detail regarding Squire B, but if it were a diary maybe she would admit true feelings of vanity, lust, confusion or other emotions that we have questioned. A diary would give a final say and opinion on how Pamela should actually be perceived as a character. Her letters are not necessarily her true thoughts, since she knows they have been intercepted. She could just be writing things in hopes of it getting read by John. For example, when she talks to highly of Squire B, we the readers do not know if she is doing this because she actually thinks of him highly (at first) or if she is doing this so John can report back to Squire B after he read her high opinions of her Master. Regardless, I enjoy the novel's unique style of being entirely written in epistolary form.

  2. I agree with Gina that Pamela's awareness of an audience makes her narrative slightly less reliable. I do like the letters however, because it allows us to get Pamela's parents' reactions and in turn Pamela's reactions to their letters. It allows for a dialogue of perspectives that we would not get if Pamela were simply to reference her parents' letters in a diary in passing ("Mother and Father have warned me that Squire B's intentions are ill, but I cannot help trusting him..."). The letters also give Pamela agency she would not have if she were to simply write in her diary like an angsty teen. By telling her parents about the Squire's advances, she is taking an active stand against him, as opposed to passively writing to no one. By writing TO someone and having their support returned to her, Pamela's strength is resolved. I think that if the novel were written as a diary, the story would be very different because Pamela's resolve would not have lasted nearly as long.

  3. I agree that if the novel was written in the form of diary entries, rather than letters to Pamela's parent, we as the readers would probably get a less censured version of the how the events actually happened and Pamela's true feelings. However, I think that it is very important that the novel is in epistolary form. Rather than giving Pamela agency more agency in her life, they give her less. Pamela is completely dependent upon someone else to deliver her letters to her parents; she can write as many letters as she wants to, but has no way of actually making sure that the letters get to their intended receivers (as is illustrated by Mr. B intercepting the letters). Pamela's lack of agency in her life can also be seen by the scene in which she if forced to write to Mrs. Jervis that she is alright so that her parents will not try to cause a stir with Mr. B. Even if her letters do get to the people whom she intends, Pamela has no agency to tell them her true situation.