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GirlGenius Suggests -- Pamela or Virtue Rewarded

Updated on November 30, 2008

Pamela, The Strength of Faith

The novel "Pamela" appeared in 1740 and was written by Samuel Richardson. Many people consider it the first novel to appear in English literature.

Several factors make "Pamela" an extraordinary book. To begin with, it was written as a series of letters from good, honest Pamela to her parents. They are quite poor and Pamela has gone to live with a wealthy woman to be her servant.

Samuel Richardson, the author, claimed that he merely printed the letters he found. This added authenticity to the tale, but nowadays most people think he wrote the book himself.

In the first section of the book, we are given an indepth look of sexual harassment (in 1740!). Pamela is hard-working, honest and beautiful. When the woman she works for passes away, Pamela goes to work for one of this woman's sons. And the trouble begins....

Is it her fault that she is beautiful, intelligent and modest? She certainly does not do anything wrong, but her boss begins to fall in love with her anyway. This makes him very angry. Back in the day, it would have been a huge disgrace for a wealthy man to have married his servant.

But unfortunately, it was *not* a disgrace to "have his way with her" and then dump her. Pamela's faith in God is very strong and she refuses to yield her "virtue" to him. Everyone in this house loves Pamela as a sister, since she is always so kind to everyone. But the master of the house feels a deep attraction to her. This vexes him to the point that he promises to send her home, but in reality ends up kidnapping her!!

Yes, she is sent to a distant estate and is put under the care of a mean, selfish woman. I cannot suggest this book for children, even though there is a strong Christian message throughout. The master of the house tries various tricks, hoping to find Pamela alone so he can force his will upon her (if it comes to that). He even goes so far as to hide in her bedroom!

But each time, Pamela is saved. She tried to run away and even thinks about killing herself, but decides that God will give her the strength to go on.

Her letters to her parents tell the truth about what is happening to her, and are filled with prayers for herself, her family, and for his master who has clearly lost his way.

Although she is in a treacherous situation, Pamela finds ways to make friends and get her letters sent.

And then, just when things seem as though they couldn't get any worse, the master of the house begins to have a spiritual awakening...

Now I don't want to give away what happens in the second part of the book, but I will say that it is a very interesting read with a positive message. For generations, girls have been instructed to read this book in order to understand that when you align yourself with God, no harm can come to you.

Pamela is a model of discipline, obedience, honesty, and character. Her faith gives her the strength to disobey her master when he tries to abuse his power over her. She refuses to yield to his depraved requests.

For a long time, writers struggled with the idea of how to tell a story. By using the device of letters written to and from Pamela's parents, we as readers are able to get a better sense of the story.

This book is fabulous. It's an important piece of literary history and a gripping story as well!

Samuel Richardson, the author

He intended to create a book about how to write letters!
He intended to create a book about how to write letters!

Do you answer to God, or to your boss?

Would you do something unethical to keep your job?

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