This will be a bit of a longer post to make up for missing Pamela’s post last week. I will be reviewing a few things about Pamela by Samuel Richardson, and then the satire/critics that followed, Shamela by Henry Fielding, and Anti-Pamela by Eliza Haywood.
*Side Note: As we have the same last name (Haywood) I was hoping to like her stuff. But, I don’t. Just wanted to get that out of the way.
So, let’s talk Pamela. A young 15-year-old works in a house. Her lady dies, and the lady’s son decides to keep her around. Awe, how sweet, right? Wrong. He basically spends the next nearly 600 pages finding ways to try to rape her, and hold her hostage. Here is the kicker, she ends up deciding that she loves him. And… her reward for not letting him rape her is marriage. Hot Damn. I would have been just as okay with, I don’t know a pony? Or, even better, not almost being raped for 600 pages?
I do have to share my favorite part though… They are living at the country house, and one night when she goes to bed, Mrs. Jewkes (eww.) lays on her arm. She’s like, “Oh, alright, whatever. Imma just go to bed.” When her fellow servant Nan starts to get into bed, and then all the sudden. BAM. It’s Mr. B– about to get down with it, while Mrs. Jewkes not only watches, but helps hold her down. Pamela being so virtuous literally goes into a fit like a seizure, so that he won’t rape her.
The worst/best part? Richardson was quite serious about everything he wrote. He thought that her guarding her virtue from unwanted “advances” and then marrying above her station made sense. It was God’s gift to her or some B.S. like that. Though we get to have some fun once Fielding puts his two cents in.
An Apology for the Life of Mrs. Shamela Andrews by Henry Fielding. I was literally laughing out loud as I read this short novel. He is in the running for best sarcasm of the 18th Century. He tore Richardson apart, and I enjoyed every minute of it. Mr. B– in Pamela is known as Mr. Booby in Shamela. If that doesn’t make you laugh and show you the immature nature of Fielding I don’t know what would.
Shamela is a young woman who is known as Pamela around the house is quite the “minx”. She had a baby with the Parson Williams, and hid that fact, and took on the view of being virtuous. She purposefully uses her feigned virtue to get Mr. Booby. Throughout the novel she plays on his “feelings” for her, and eventually gets him to marry her. All the while cuckolding him with Parson Williams while making Booby feel badly about his actions towards Williams.
Basically, Shamela is the background to showing you Pamela knew exactly what she was doing in seeming naive. Pamela seems like she is struggling through life. Shamela is a lot more like good ‘ol Moll Flanders. She isn’t naive, and she knows how to use her “charms” 😉 to get what she wants. Shamela is getting some people to question if Richardson’s Pamela is actually a reliable narrator, and adding a much more interesting spin on the story.
Now, Anti-Pamela by Eliza Haywood. I am Anti-“Anti-Pamela”. Thought the story line is somewhat more interesting, and takes you on more than one journey, much like Love in Excess, it is droll. All three (Pamela, Shamela, and Anti-Pamela) are written as if in letters, but Haywood breaks out more in narration than the others. I feel as though she is reading me a grocery list. “First I was shamed by this man, and then I went to this man, and then his dad liked me too, and then I tried to make a decision, but couldn’t without my Mamma’s help because I cannot seem to make poor life decisions alone…” And on and on and on.
One thing I will say is we do have an actual rape in Anti-Pamela. You don’t get that in the other two. So, since Mrs. Syrena a.k.a. Anti-Pamela, is such a great actress by making herself cry, and being a good liar she is able to fake it, it being virtue, ’til she makes it. I don’t know how it ends yet, but am almost done, and am curious to see how she ends it compared to Pamela and Shamela.
I do want to note that Fielding is purposfully making fun of Pamela, though it seems Haywood is telling more a moral story from what I gather while also poking the slightest bit of fun at Pamela, though she is a little dry it is hard to tell. It should be an interesting conversation in class tomorrow!