Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Samuel Richardson- Pamela

This is yet another book which I realize had tremendous implications at the time of its writing but I feel is no longer relevant except in a historical sense.
I hated the character of Pamela entirely, as I felt that she did not leave their employ when she might have (for example, she could have left to be with her parents at any time before he kidnapped her). Despite her protestations, she might have moved to be with her parents and found happiness working hard. Her primary trouble was managing to stay in high society without giving in, not to keep from sleeping with her master. She could have avoided it all from the beginning, but despite her whining, she had every option open to her if she just accepted the fact that she would no longer have the same wealth and comfort she had had before.
Although she is feminist from the perspective of her contemporaries, I find her eventual condescention toward herself with regard to her husband to be horrifying- and any man who acted as he did would have to change entirely to be worthy. The temper and attitude he kept perpetually (even after guaranteeing her happiness IF she didn't cross him) were unacceptable and I wouldn't be surprised if the changes he made were temporary- unless, of course, her beauty so enchants him and she is such a loyal servant that he reamins smitten and kind (or kindER, anyway)
I am surprised that his mother did not make better arrangements for her, or take care of her with some kind of perspective (not necessarily to recognize the evil in her own son, for we are all blinded about those closest to us) but to prepare her for all eventualities.
I don't enjoy her character; although she does value herself more than other women, and does take pride in herself, she does not do the TRULY noble thing under the circumstances, which is to run home to her parents. She risked being raped, and eventually did escape that only by her enchanting looks and pleading- and fainting, in part likely due to her anorexia- so if she truly beleived in what she said she did (and she was a hypocrite about honesty, too, for she chose to deceive them in her captiity and even before rather than the alternative) she would have removed herself from any place where she might lose her purity or have it taken from her.
I can't remember everything from this book- I studied it quite rapidly and have read many books since- but she basically irritated me with her overdramatized self-effacing and self-deprecating comments, and her perpetual obsession with the master despite all he has done wrong and all she refuses to fault him for. I suppose the worst part is how she feigned not having feelings for him; she should have admitted, at least in private, that she was enchanted with him (sooner than she did) for I think it would have seemed less hypocritical and more compelling.
I do, however, appreciate the fact that she asserts herself, eventually manipulates her way into getting everything she wants and manages to retain her virtue all at the same time- which is a big statement considering the time period it was written in. Perhaps I am too harsh on novels of this time because I tend to judge them according to what they preceded- which is utterly unfair in any field- but I can't help thinking that there is a lack of consistency and fullness of character that irritates me.

No comments:

Post a Comment