Armstrong says that Richardson’s Pamela has been received with such acclaim at a time when novels were considered as immoral and that the author makes his novel a different one as not to be seen in the derogatory sense of the term “Novel.”. Throughout the novel, Pamela is portrayed as the lady of virtue reflecting the culture of the time and it has been demonstrated that she would not fall prey to her master’s sexual advances in spite of her poverty.
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She would rather die than submit to him if that is her fate. The author characterizes her as a poor woman to demonstrate that women would not lose their virtue even in the most abject living conditions. According to Armstrong, with Pamela “novel” itself gets a dignified recognition that reading novels is no more an immoral activity.
Armstrong notes that the author has brought new meanings for social relations with certain moral values attributed to them. Pamela’s defiant reactions to her master’s demands are deemed to represent the legitimate self-defense of a woman of virtue and not of that of a maid servant disobeying her master.
The author of Pamela has been credited with upholding the integrity of the female body without being relegated to an economic commodity. The depiction of female body something beyond money value actually marks the beginning of the rise of women power in the 18th century, retaining at the same time the role of a person commanding the household without traces of servitude.
This is seen by Armstrong as major event in the political history. She considers that Pamela has managed to raise herself to the intellectual and social level of her reader, remaining a poor young maid servant by occupying the majority of the space in the novel by constantly questioning the arrogance of male chauvinism.
She considers this as somewhat democratization of humanity. Armstrong herself notes that Pamela’s letters of virtues are what uplift her position where she is able to win the heart of a gentleman and reform the interior of his house. Armstrong highlights the steadfastness of Pamela in her virtue even in her trying times of economic dependency on her master in order to supplement her parents’ need to fulfill the debt obligations of her brother.
Pamela novel has also been seen by Armstrong as part of conduct literature by which Richardson is regarded to have contributed to the idealogy of domesticity for the emergent middle class. She shows Pamela’s story as one of sexual history. She insists that sexual discourse is a modern form of pleasure and her claim is that the Richardson’s is not a wayward novel. However, she claims that theorists of the time failed to answer how a female writer (feminist writer) could become so prominent in the 18th century.
To conclude, Armstrong has written the role of literature in shaping our cultural norms and identities. Armstrong has chosen Pamela to write about the history of the development of ‘novel writing’ and to show they (novels) have been instrumental in shaping the society as well as reflecting the contemporary society.
In Armstrong’s opinion, Pamela is the cornerstone for the development of conduct literature and recognition of woman for her gender role in shaping of the society. However, her theory that delineation of gender roles, that is, females are the household managers independent of control by males is unconvincing.