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The Significance of Virtue and Social Class in ‘Pamela’

In: English and Literature

Submitted By WolfDreamer
Words 854
Pages 4
The themes of virtue and attitude regarding social class and status are closely related in Richardson’s ‘Pamela.’ Pamela manages to preserve her virtue in spite of the pressure placed upon her by the country squire Mr. B, who is especially difficult to refuse because of the difference in social class between them. Pamela is at a distinct disadvantage.
During the time in which the novel was written, the European culture gave precedence to males. A female servant was considered lower-class and would have found it extremely difficult to disobey her male master. Such is the case for young Pamela. Trapped in his mansion, she should be an easy flower to pluck. However, showing strength of will uncharacteristic to most females in her situation, Pamela succeeds to preserve her virtue throughout the entirety of the novel.
Despite Mr. B’s many attempts to seduce her, Pamela never once gives in to his sexual advances. She continues to do so even after she discovers the love she has for him and refuses to sleep with him until they have married. “And I will say, that to see so much Innocence and Virtue, so eminently rewarded, is one of the greatest pleasures I have ever known.” (346)
Mr. B, an influential and wealthy man, should have no problem ordering his servant around. He is an older man, well-respected among his peers. It is simple for him to use his money and his social status to obtain his desires. However, Pamela rejects his offers of power- servants of her own to order around- as well as money and other special favors from him.
It is true that Mr. B could easily have forced himself upon Pamela. Yet his refusal to do so points to his own sense of virtue- although filled with lust, he truly loves Pamela. He recognizes her powerful sense of virtue and submits to it, acknowledging that he is unwilling to taint such a pure soul even though he desires it so much. Such…...

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