Kim Poetzinger and Shawna Jones
Samuel Richardson’s Pamela:
An Annotated Bibliography
Ardolino, Frank. “Richardson’s Pamela.” Explicator 66.2 (2008): 78-82. Print.
Ardolino postulates that a primary way that Richardson develops the character Pamela’s progress from “moral passivity and confusion…to an active Christianity” (78) is by the use of biblical typology. Specifically, he draws parallels between Pamela’s story and the Book of Ruth. This is not a difficult conclusion to reach, seeing as how Pamela’s father himself draws this parallel within the text; but Ardolino attributes the way in which Richardson approaches the biblical story to his awareness of a 1628 commentary on the Book of Ruth by Richard Bernard. Bernard’s commentary was in the tradition of domestic conduct books of the time, and he derived moral lessons from Ruth’s story that he considered applicable to young ladies: “piety maintained in the face of temptation will inevitably result in substantial rewards” (79). Ardolino claims that Bernard’s explication of the Book of Ruth was the crucial sources for Richardson’s characterization of Pamela as the “exemplar of virtue rewarded” (79). He illuminates specific ways in which the stories of Ruth and Pamela are similar, but then also highlights important differences. His conclusion is that Richardson’s take on the rewards of virtue as material reflected the trajectory of religious values at the time, that “social and financial success were becoming the signs for measuring the expression of God’s favor to his faithful” (80); he claims that this explains in part why the novel was received both with open arms and accusations of hypocrisy.
Bruckmann, Patricia C. “ Clothes of Pamela’s Own: Shopping at B- Hall.” Eighteenth-Century Life 25.2 (2001): 201-213. Print.
The title of this article alludes to Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own, and indeed Bruckmann does draw a parallel – though she argues that in Pamela’s case that room of her own was the room in which she stored her clothing. Clothing in Pamela’s time was the primary indicator of identity and class, and throughout the novel Pamela frequently refers to her clothing, dwelling on specifics of fabric and style. Bruckmann attempts to illuminate Pamela’s choices of dress as a reflection of her identity, and how it shifts throughout the novel. The article starts with a quotation from Richardson in which he roundly blasts the modish “foplings” of his time (201), criticizing them for their ridiculous attention to fashion trends which he thought were feminizing and overly theatrical. However, Bruckmann claims that Richardson’s opinions concerning dress did not extend to women, as most of his social acquaintances were female and thus was he well-versed in female tastes. When Pamela is outfitting herself for her impending return to her parents’ home, she goes on for some time about the materials she acquired for various purposes. Through research into clothing patterns and fabric costs, Bruckmann actually itemizes Pamela’s wardrobe and estimates the total cost as “nearly half her yearly wages as a servant” (206); her list is a fascinating insight into how Pamela’s choices reflect her class affiliation and how she strays from expectations. Indeed, Bruckmann demonstrates how Pamela’s awareness of fashion can be attributed to the late Lady B, and theorizes how Pamela’s progression through various styles of dress subtly compliments and reflects her social and personal progression. Through a more thorough contextualizing of the importance of clothing in Richardson’s time, Bruckmann’s article underlines how the subtleties of personal appearance in Pamela further our understanding of her character and the values of eighteenth-century British society.
Flint, Christopher. "The Anxiety of Affluence: Family and Class (Dis)order in Pamela: or, Virtue Rewarded." Studies in English Literature (Rice) 29.3 (1989): 489-514. Print.
Flint’s article attempts to tackle many issues, such as Pamela’s nebulous social identity, Richardson’s portrayal of a corrupt aristocracy, and the tension Pamela faces when she transcends her bourgeois class status to marry Mr. B. Flint is extremely interested in the psychology of Mr. B and argues that his attraction to her is due to her proximity to his mother and the feminine domestic ideal. Pamela’s status, he argues, is indefinable because of the contradiction between her lower-class upbringing and her aristocratic schooling from Lady B; this in turn causes her identity confusion. Pamela’s function, Flint states, is to domesticate the rake, and instill her domestic values over the aristocratic corruption of Mr. B.
While he presents several interesting arguments, Flint does not present a centralized theory to link them all; he rambles from one argument to the next, skipping from psychoanalysis of Mr. B’s desire for Pamela to class values, etc., until he has strayed from his original topic entirely. Further, I believe it is an oversight on Flint’s part that he did not include Mr. B’s lecture to Lady Davers on why it is less scandalous for aristocratic men to marry down than for women- if Flint is interested about the implications of marriage breaking class boundaries, Mr. B’s aristocratic analysis merits his attention.
Leiman, Jessica L. "Booby's fruitless operations": The Crisis of Male Authority in Richardson's Pamela." Eighteenth Century Fiction 22.2 (2010): 223-248. Print.
Leiman argues that Mr. B’s inability to rape Pamela is linked to his desire to silence her narrative voice, and his anxiety about asserting his own voice within her narrative. Leiman cites many episodes within Pamela which display his desire to silence her; for example, he sends a letter to her parents contradicting those which Pamela wrote, and Mrs. Jewkes notes his that desire to silence her prohibits him from assaulting her. Mr. B successfully insinuates himself into Pamela’s letters not through physical violence, Leiman insists, but through his own counter-narrative, by demonizing and sexualizing her letters, casting her as “artful” and “imaginative” and taking credit for furnishing her with material for the ‘romance’ that they created together
Leiman further posits that Mr. B successfully supplants Pamela’s voice after they become engaged, citing the reform of her impudent journal, and her willingness to give her letters to him. Leiman connects this power shift with Richardson’s own work with Pamela in a female-dominated genre, and statements she claims he made against bold female authors. While I agree that Mr. B’s marriage to Pamela allows him to override her voice -- particularly when he stops her from appeasing Lady Davers, I do not think that Mr. B’s narrative struggle within Pamela is a conscious reflection of Richardson’s role within the novel. Richardson asserts himself rarely, and only to comment on Pamela’s situation, and the lessons inherent in it, not to alter her story.
Shuttleton, David E. “‘Pamela's Library’: Samuel Richardson and Dr. Cheyne's ‘Universal Cure.’” Eighteenth-Century Life 23.1 (1999): 59-80. Print.
Shuttleton examines both George Cheyne and Samuel Richardson in the context of a particular social movement, that of “medical pietism” (59). Cheyne was a doctor specializing in nervous disorders, at a time when “female sensibility” was drawing more attention and links between physical health and moral condition were regarded as fairly self-evident. The relationship between Cheyne and Richardson started when Richardson became the publisher of his medical texts, and continued for many years – much of their correspondence survives and serves as a testimony to the influences of medical pietism in Richardson’s Pamela. This article provides thorough background information on both Cheyne and Richardson, and charts their mutually influential relationship. Cheyne himself diagnosed Richardson with a nervous disorder stemming from his sensibility, and Shuttleton claims that Richardson felt that “his struggle against nervous affliction gave him peculiar moral and literary authority” (64). After the publication of Pamela, Cheyne suggested to Richardson that they compile “Pamela’s Library,” a project through which “they sought to broker their spiritual agenda through the creation, translation, and anthologizing of select literature within a culture they both deemed to be increasingly secular and materialistic” (61). They discussed it at length in their correspondence, and Cheyne continued to push the project until his death in 1743. Though it was never finished, Pamela’s Library was intended as “a literary asylum, offering private devotional sanctuary from...the contemporary social-Bedlam condemned by the pious novelist and his pious physician alike” (74). Overall, this article provides a great deal of insight into the outside influences on Richardson’s morality that perhaps prompted him to create the didactic novel that is Pamela.
Zhang, John Zaixin. "Free play in Samuel Richardson's Pamela." Papers on Language & Literature 27.3 (1991): 307-319. Print.
Zhang’s main argument in “Free play” is that through its epistolary style, Pamela negates the logocentric argument. The logocentric argument states that speech is more representative of truth than writing, because writing is only a secondary replica of speech. In other words, writing is less valuable as a representation of reality because it is removed from it. Zhang cites Jacques Derrida, who claims that the relationship between the actual, which he calls the “signified,” and the written word, which he calls the “signifier” is arbitrary, and that the supposed distance between them is also arbitrary. Zhang argues that there is a “free play” between the written word and reality in Pamela; because Pamela’s letters not only chronicle events, but influence them, her writing produces reality rather than imperfectly reflecting it. Pamela’s writing is not a skewed rendering of her reality; her letters allow her to create what Mr. B refers to as their own novel, shaping the events in Pamela’s life into a romance.
However, Zhang also claims that writing is debased in comparison with speech in Pamela, according to the logocentric tradition, contrary to his conclusion that Pamela nullifies logocentrism. In waffling between these two ideas, Zhang confuses the point he is trying to make. Further, his arguments for the discrediting of writing in Pamela are dubious; for example; he posits that the episode where Pamela writes questions for Mrs. Jewkes to answer aloud – in an effort to prove the innocence of her “scribbling’ -- debases writing because of the playful and unnecessary nature of the interaction. Alternatively, however, Pamela’s insistence on Mrs. Jewkes answering her questions out loud closes her out from the conspiracy Pamela creates within her writing. Pamela is forced to correspond through writing with Mr. Williams in an effort to escape her imprisonment, but cannot speak to him. Viewed in this light, Pamela’s game with Mrs. Jewkes hardly debases writing; speech, in this case, becomes facetious. While Zhang makes excellent points about how free play in Pamela negates the logocentric argument, he confuses his argument by including a contradictory theory with insufficient evidence.