“Pamela; or, Virtue Rewarded”, analysis of the novel by Samuel Richardson

The Idea

This  is a novel that published around 1740 by an English writer called Samuel Richardson. Many consider it to be a great English novel and it is reputed to have sold many copies when it was written.

The books main character is Pamela Andrews who is a 15-year-old maidservant to Mr. B. He is a wealthy man with a lot of land. He makes makes advances to her in bad taste immediately after his mother’s demise.

Pamela is conflicted by the advances. She has strong religious beliefs that she doesn’t want to go against but at the same time desires to get approval from her employer. In several letters and journal entries that appear in the second volume of the book, she discloses this conflict. She also writes to her poor and dejected parents  about the situation.

Following many seduction attempts that were unsuccessful, sexual assaults, kidnappings on Pamela, Mr. B reforms and makes a sincere marriage proposal to Pamela which she accepts. In her marriage, Pamela tries to blend into the upper-class society as a wife of a wealthy man; Mr. B which is the second part of the book.


Samuel Richardson is reputed to be the first male writers to have taken a feminist view in his work. The role of Pamela rejected the traditional view of women at the time by portraying her as independent and one with her own thoughts and ideas. At that time, the role of women was very conservative and their thoughts and ideas were not taken into account.

The letters and journals written by Pamela give the reader a glimpse of her emotions, like of thought rather than seeing women at a shallow level. The letters also allow readers to see how Pamela felt about the events that were occurring in her life and how she handled them and hence portrayed as brave, witty and opinionated. This is not the position that women had at the time hence the credit given to this author.

Plot of Work

The book is divided into volumes 1 and 2. Volume 1 starts with portraying Pamela Andrews as an innocent 15-year-old girl working as lady B’s servant. No sooner had Lady B had died than Mr. begins to pay more attention to Pamela by giving her clothes belonging to his late mum. He continues to try and seduce her and requests her to keep it a secret but she doesn’t. She confides in Mrs. Jervis who is a housekeeper and her good friend. When the seduction continues, she thinks of returning to her poor parents for her to stay pure but is undecided.

Pamela is kidnapped by Mr. B after he learned that she planned to run away. This information comes out from the contents of her letters.. She stays in a house in Lincolnshire Estate where the housekeeper there is unfriendly and owes her allegiance to Mr. B and cannot help her escape. While there, Mr. B stays away from visiting for a while.
Volume 2 starts with a fortuneteller discouraging Pamela from entering into a marriage with Mr. B. By this time, Mr. B reads all the letters that Pamela had been writing and hiding them under a rosebush. He feels bad for what he had made her go through and felt very guilty. This makes her decide to marry her.

Pamela doesn’t trust him and asks to her go to her parents to which he agrees. However, she realizes that she loved him and when he asks her to return she accepts where they discuss together as a married couple.

The wedding between Pamela and Mr. B happens in a chapel but his sister called  Davers boycotts attending it and is against the wedding which she doesn’t recognize and insults Pamela who plays cool and does not insult her sister in law. She escapes instead to avoid confrontation. She later accepts Pamela as the brothers’ wife and they return to live in Bedfordshire. Pamela becomes a submissive wife and she is happy. Her parents are also happy because she is happy. Their neighbors are full of admiration for her too.

After the wedding, Pamela learns that MR. B had sire a child with a lady who later got married in Jamaica and encourages him to go for her so that they could adopt the child. This portrayed the good hearted nature of Pamela who had by now already forgiven Mr B for all the bad things to her.

Key characters

Pamela Andrews: She is the protagonist of the novel who narrates the story. She is a 15-year-old naive girl who worked for Mrs. B. She is inherited by her son after her demise. Mr. B the son, puts through sexual advances to her to the extent of assaulting and kidnapping her. She eventually falls in love with him and changes her mind about it and marries him.

Elizabeth and John Andrews: They are Pamela’s parents to whom she sends letters about her experiences in the hands of Mr. B are addressed. Mr. John Andrews is the only parent to appear later in the book when he goes to pick Pamela only to find out that she is happy in her marriage.

Mr. B: He is Pamela’s employer who harasses her sexually, kidnaps her and finally arrives at a decision of marrying her and proposes. His proposal is accepted and they get married in a chapel.

Mr. Williams: He is Pamela’s friend who attempts to  help her to escape from Mr. and delivers her letters of anguish to her family. He had offered to marry Pamela a request she declined. Later in the book, Mr. B finds out about the actions of Mr. Williams and had him taken into prison.

Mrs. Jevis: She is an elderly housekeeper at Mr.’s Bedfordshire estate who becomes Pamela’s best friend. Their friendship is stated in Pamela’s correspondences to her folks. While she pities Pamela, she has no way of stopping the harassment from Mr. B.

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