Saturday, November 26, 2011

Pamela vs. Evelina: The Britney/Christina of the 18C

There has been a lot of discussion about Pamela and Evelina as moralizing novels. There has also been a lot of back and forth about whether Evelina or Pamela is more likable/believable as a character. What I am interested in, however, is which author is more successful in their goal of moralizing young girls? Both Richardson and Burney use similar epistolary styles, and both protagonists are around the same age and in confusing class roles, presumably to appeal to young girls of any class. If their goals were to influence and strengthen the virtuosity of young girls, which author do you think is more successful and why?


  1. I would say Pamela is more successful in a conventional manner because she is a more sympathetic character. If you want someone to relate to, then Pamela is your girl. If you are a parent looking for a scare tactic, then look no further than Fantomina. She is a character who understood the risks but continued on in her risky behavior anyway, and had to suffer the consequences of going to a convent. In terms of true moralizing I think neither character is perfect, but each plays their part.

  2. For me it's Evelina only because I always sensed a more genuine progression of maturity in her than I did Pamela. So in turn, my answer would have to be Burney. I wouldn't argue AGAINST either author strengthening the virtuosity of both young women, but I think that the Pamela character was oftentimes pushed and nudged along a somewhat preconceived path by those around her, whereas Evelina seemed to take it more upon herself to find her own way, and in doing so, demonstrated a great deal of that aforementioned maturity and growth. Again, both authors demonstrate good deals of strength within their leading protagonists, I just value Evelina's a bit more because I think she makes it her own.