Monday, 28 April 2014

Pamela by Samuel Richardson - Part 3

published 1740









I went up soon after, and new dressed myself, taking possession, in a happy moment, I hope, of my two bundles, as my good master was pleased to call them; (alluding to my former division of those good things my lady and himself bestowed upon me;) and so put on fine linen, silk shoes, and fine white cotton stockings, a fine quilted coat, a delicate green Mantea silk gown and coat, a French necklace, and a laced cambric handkerchief, and clean gloves; and, taking my fan in my hand, I, like a little proud hussy, looked in the glass, and thought myself a gentlewoman once more; but I forgot not to return due thanks, for being able to put on this dress with so much comfort.

Mrs. Jewkes would help to dress me, and complimented me highly, saying, among other things, That now I looked like a lady indeed.




observations: This entry should be read with previous ones, and contains PLOT SPOILERS.

Once the resolution of this book has come – Mr B stops trying to seduce or rape Pamela, and decides to marry her - the final third of the book is both tiresome and dull. Pamela continually expresses how happy she is, and worries about her Master’s sister - who strongly disapproves of the match, to the extent that she bursts into their bedroom early in the morning to find out whether they are sharing a bed. Although to be fair to the sister: she tried to remove Pamela from danger right at the beginning, she is also concerned about another woman that Mr B has seduced and impregnated in the past, and she also fears there may have been a sham-marriage – another of Mr B’s attractive earlier plans. So not wholly unreasonable…

Pamela is (despite attitudes which are unimaginable to modern women) a fine heroine: straightforward, clear and honest – there is an engrossing scene, alluded to above, where she divides her possessions into three bundles according to how she obtained them: she does not feel she can run away with gifts from the man she is avoiding.

She is annoying but intriguing, and quite convincing – she climbs out of windows and climbs walls, though is prone to giving up too easily: ‘O my foolish fears of bulls and robbers!’ She tries to escape, but fails for various reasons – the most feeble of these is because she is busy embroidering him a flowered waistcoat, and wants to finish it before she goes, because it is so beautiful.

And amid all the bowing and scraping and being grateful, Pamela does manage to say:

How do these gentry know, that, supposing they could trace back their ancestry for one, two, three, or even five hundred years, that then the original stems of these poor families, though they have not kept such elaborate records of their good-for nothingness, as it often proves, were not still deeper rooted.
Dangerous socialist tendencies.

The picture, Portrait of a Bride with Flowers by Pierre Gobert, was painted around 1720, and comes from the Athenaeum website.

8 comments:

  1. Moira - Well, as you point out, I find it hard to deal with some of Pamela's attitudes, but I do love the portrait of life at that time. Still, I couldn't imagine living that way.

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    1. There's nothing like a book from long ago to a) tell us about its own times and b) make us glad we don't live then...

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  2. Really enjoyed your review Moira - I have always been a bit of a wuss about this one just due to its sheer bulk - maybe I'll just read the first two thirds ...

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    1. That's probably not a bad idea Sergio! Stop before it gets too annoying. And you can get it free for a Kindle....

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  3. I didn't think you could do it, but you've actually found something less interesting to me than V S-W! And in such a short time frame, I'm suitably unimpressed. Deighton has redeemed you! Still loving the blog, if not all the books,

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    1. It's been a bad run for you, I will admit. But at least you're not rushing out to get hold of this monumental blockbuster (and 7 other books he wrote...)

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  4. I don't think this is for me, based on the excerpt.... but not going to read spoilers regardless... so I will move on. I do like the painting.

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    1. As I always say, sometimes I read them so you don't have to!

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