When Samuel Richardson published his first novel, 'Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded' (1740), he firmly directed the nascent novel genre towards formal realism and moral purity. The simple story of a feisty servant girl who refuses to let her handsome young master have his naughty way with her, arguing: 'But, O sir! my soul is of equal importance with the soul of a `princess'; though my quality is inferior to that of the meanest slave,' is written in the form of heartfelt letters from the protagonist to her parents. Convinced that he was writing a story of virtue, Richardson was surprised to find that some of his readers felt that Pamela came across as a gold-digging social climber, intent on trapping her master in a lucrative marriage. In this seminar we will begin by reading the original novel, and then look at two reactions, Henry Fielding's parody spoof, 'Shamela', and Eliza Haywood's more poignant yet more cutting 'Anti-Pamela', as we explore the ideological (including cultural) implications of this print-market event.
Literatur, Gender Studies