An epistolary novel, Pamela, by Samuel Richardson (SPOILER ALERT)
One word to describe this novel–long. Wayyyyy too long. Pamela, the titular character, tells her story through a series of letters. Never ending letters. The premise of the story is the temptations that the virtuous Pamela faces and her reward for remaining true and good throughout the course of these events. However, I find this very problematic for one major reason.
The source of Pamela’s “temptations” is Mr. B—. He is the aristocratic son of Pamela’s former lady, whom she served as a maid. He becomes enthralled with her and unleashes a series of increasingly disgusting plots to make her his mistress. Pamela’s virtue protects her and eventually Mr. B— realizes that he loves her and will eschew society’s rules and marry her. This is where I really lost it as a modern day reader. SHE RETURNS THE LOVE FOR HIM AFTER HE KIDNAPS HER AND TRIES TO RAPE HER MULTIPLE TIMES. Stockholm syndrome much? I just couldn’t fathom why this character allows herself to be used in such a way. I would have made a shank and gut stabbed Mrs. Jewkes or pulled a Lorena Bobbit on Mr. B—. I guess Pamela is a product of her times–essentially the weak, flowery version of womanhood sold to the masses. Her “virtue” forces her to rely on others and allow herself to be used instead of fighting back. I found this book a disgusting, misogynistic attack on women. This book is encouraging women to be weak, allow others to do whatever they want to them, pray they will be saved, then forgive their abuser. What kind of a message does that send?