The Reward of Virtue in Pamela - Essay Sample

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University of California, Santa Barbara
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Virtue is a value that the society recommends in every individual. In fact, the moral law is anchored in this attributes. There are numerous measures of virtue, some of which are macro concepts while others are micro concepts. Self-control, for instance, is an indicator of a virtuous individual. This virtue entails the individuals restraint from evil or wrongdoing. It calls for the personal attribute of making firm decisions and standing by them. A person with self-control is considered to uphold the highest level of integrity and refrain from evil. Self-control forms the basis of all other virtues. It determines whether an individual is courteous, prudent or meek. Normally, virtue goes a long way in depicting a person as moral. In most cases, morality has positive consequences while the opposite is also true. In other words, morality is rewarded through material or immaterial benefits. The consequences of virtue often follow aperiod in which a person has upheld moral values. The rewards could be intrinsic or extrinsic. Intrinsic reward does not usually involve a second party, and often involves escape from harm or peril. On the other hand, an extrinsic reward comes from an interested party, especially those who have benefitted from virtue. Pamelasreward isexemplified by her upward social mobility through marrying her master, the juncture at which she becomes a gentlewoman after endurance.

Pamela is a servant girl who works for an old lady as her boss. Unfortunately, her master dies of an illness which the author does not reveal to the readers, although he mentions that Pamela had notified her parents about the sickness. What bothers Pamela is that she has to go back to live with her parents who live in deplorable conditions. She tells them that since the death of her mistress, she has been living with problems, most of which are financial. Pamela has to contend the sexual advances of her new master: a bigot by the name of Mr. B. who cannot rest at anything less of making Pamela his mistress. Pamela maintains her character of virtue even after Mr. B showers her with gifts like linen of her later lady. When his advances bear no fruition, Mr. B decides to send Pamela to another estate and marry her off to a church chaplain. He ensures that Pamelas parents become aware of her wish to marry a poor clergyman in hope that they would dissuade her from enduring the condition in Bedfordshire. This move does not falter Pamelas stout stand in virtue. While at her new estate, she faces acrimony from the housekeeper who tells her on Mr. B. however, Pamela maintain her virtuouscharacter and reciprocates evil with goodness. She remains in the new estate until Mr. B humbles down and becomes an acolyte of her virtue. She finally agrees to marry him due to his new character. The marriage does not auger well with Mr. Bs sister who views Pamela as a wench. She therefore mistreats her in Mr. Bs house, although Pamela continues to be kind to her aggressor. In the marriage, Pamela maintains the accounts of the family in all honesty and continues to exemplify virtue in her marriage.

Pamelas character is portrayed by the author through a series of letters that she writes to her parents.In response to one of her letters, her father recognizes the apparently good life that his daughter has been leading when her mistress was alive. Indeed, Pamela was leading a life that many servants wont when working for their masters. This novel by Samuel Richardson creates a plethora of social and economic issues that featured in the 18th Century England. All the letters form and interlocutory pattern between different parties to serve this function. The domestic life of the servants, the relationship between the slaves and their masters, the institution of slavery, the preservation of virtue, and feminism are some of the key themes that are deducible from the novel. Different scholars have attempted to deconstruct the novel using diverse techniques. While some appear to praise the authors mastery of the relevant domestic issues, others dismiss the work as lacking any emotion to create readership attachment. Nonetheless, Richard creates an exemplary work of art whose relevance is of little importance today, but formed an important component of the Western Canon. In particular, the book shifted the format of ancient English authorship from narration to the discussion of culture. The beauty of the book is not evident in its entire length, but in the isolated readings and themes.

The character of a Pamela is discernible from her action, nature, resolve, and the relations with her parents, boss, and workmates. One thing that is clear from the novel is that she is meek. She denies herself all the pleasure of living in a mansion with fine raiment for the sake of her virtues. She resolves to uphold the highest moral values which are reflected in her ability to stick to her lanes. Pamela is a slave girl from a peasant family who are constantly in debt. In fact, she hopes that her stay in Mr. Bs house would ultimately salvage her parents from their misery. He sends four guineas and instructs her parents to spend some on themselves and use the rest to settle part of their debts. Her meekness and the ability to live in deprivation attract the admiration of a reader. It forms the basis of her principles which prevent her from exploitation by her boss. Her meekness also attracts favors from Mr. Jerkins, her workmate. The housekeeper is her closest confidant and loves her for her humility. She accepts to hide her letters and absorb her sorrows when Pamela presents them. Meekness as embodied by Pamela takes severaldimensions ranging from living within meager means to quickly adapt to new work environment. Some characters in the novel take advantage of this humility to abuse her. Lady Davers, for instance dismisses her as a wench even when she gets married to her brother. Mrs. Jewkes, the housekeeper in Lincolnshire Estate, maltreats her due to her inability to resist a fight. However, Pamelas meek nature helps her to resist material enticement from Mr. B before their marriage. This character finally leads the latter to trust Pamela and ask her hand in marriage.

Being the only daughter of the Andrews, Pamela keeps constant communication with her parents back at home. At fifteen years, Pamela is too young to work as a slave. However, the misery and poverty at her parentshome drive her to seek employment as a hose worker. In the first letter, Pamela notifies the reader that she has grown up under abject poverty, and that her parents spent all what they had to bring her up. Her regular communication with her parents and sharing part of her income is a gesture to reciprocate their goodness. Being a peasant English family, the reader can deduce that Pamela had a Christian upbringing. Therefore, she was aware of the biblical teaching of respecting her parents. She communicates all her development at work through letters. When she fails to send a leer on time, she opens the next one with an apology and an explanation of why there was a delay in writing a previous letter. The communication with her parents contributes to the reward she gets at the end. When her father learns that she had been married to Mr. B, she hastily visits her with an aim to induce a divorce. However, Pamela assures her that the marriage was her own decision and not through coercion. The father blesses Pamela with happiness in in her marriage.

The virtue of honesty is vivid with the character of Pamela. She finds a confidant in Mrs. Jewkims due to her honesty. Both the housekeeper and Mr. B were aware that Pamela was sending letters to her parents. She had nothing to hide in her messages because she was relaying a true picture of the life she was leading in Bedfordshire. She narrates all her endeavors, problems, and achievements to her parents through the letters. She is aware that her parents would be heart broken when they hear about her mistreatments and tribulation in her workplace. However, she lays bare everything before them and lets them know about her problems. Unlike most people who would not reveal their salary to their parents, Pamela notifies hers about all the money she earns and shares with them. She does not withhold her income from her parents since she understands their problems. After marriage, Pamela is responsible for the family accounts which she does prudently. Roxburgh praises Pamelas accounting skills and depicts her as a character worth of emulation by all woman in the management of domestic account (410). Honesty as a virtue is at least in part constituted through the form of accountingthat produces trust (Roxburgh 410). Pamela is a trustworthy domestic manager who accounts for the family resources and ensures a balance between the income and the various channels of expenditure like the remuneration of workers. The reasons why Mr. B trusts Pamela with family accounts is because of her long standing character as a virtuous domestic worker. The trustworthy nature reveals the purest of honest character that any sane person could have liked to have around. From the way she is treated, it is possible to conclude that she would be preferred for her position over anyone else who would have applied for the same position. She earned working as domestic worker and therefore she is the only preferenceThe discussion of female virginity by Harrol in her deconstruction of the moral position of Pamela raises the question of honesty in a woman. Pamela stands out as a moral example for emulation by the readers of her age and those wishing to possess virtue. Female virginity is a controversial subject when it comes to scientific approval (Harrol 200). At fifteen years and working as a slave, the reader does not expect Pamela to have broken her virginity. She remains a virtuous girl in all her dealings. She respects her virginity and defends it will all cost. According to Harrol, however, nobody besides Pamela can tell is she is a virgin or not. Her virginity is only discernible from her virtue and her insistence on sex after marriage. Mr. B at first adores Pamela for her naivety and wishes to make her his mistress. Pamela learns of his intentions and avoids her advances early enough. The association between her honesty and virginity is not clear from the novel since the author does not tell the reader is Pamela bled on the night Mr. B consummated their marriage. The reader, like Harrol, is skeptical about Pamelas virginity, although her virtue helps to make a deduction on the same.

Another virtue that Pamela possesses is benevolence. Her constant sharing of her salary with her parents isproving this statement. Additionally, she faithfully executes her duties in both estates where she works as a house help. Despite the acrimony that she faces from the housekeeper at Lincolnshire, she does not pick up a fight but instead humbles during her tribulations. After her marriage to Mr. B, Pamelas magnanimity comes into the light. She extends an olive branch to all her aggressors and refrains from revenge. When Lady Davers attack her in her room in the absence of Mr. B, Pamela escapes througha window to avoid a direct confrontation with her sister-in-law. Later, Mr. B learns of this encounter and resolves to denounce her sister. However, Pamela intervenes and harmonizes the two siblings. Pamelas benevolence throughout the novel is a symbol of her upbringing. She turns out to be peacemakerin foreign land. Regardless of her poor background, she goes against all odds to mediate between warring people of the middle class. Her benevolence is the reason behind Mr. Bs transformation of character. In fact, this result is the greatest reward of virtue that Pamela receives. Virtue, according to Leverington, is responsible for the taming of Mr. Bs overrated masculinity in th...

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