In “Fun Things Matthew Did That Are Worth Sharing With Strangers On The Internet” news, I went on a bar crawl to every borough in NYC last weekend! Another fun thing that I did was point out to people that we needed to drink water while we were doing this, and then was the only one who got dehydrated.
In “Matthew’s Friends Also Write Really Good Things You Should Read” news, my good friend Amy over at Abstract Magazine wrote a simply beautiful piece on coming out to her father. It’s a wonderful, heartwarming article on an LGBTQ issue written by one of my favorite people, so you should absolutely go read it because she is great, as is evidenced by this “Fuck The Patriarchy” pillow she recently knit.
And I really can’t think of anything better than a “fuck the patriarchy” pillow to segue into today’s Pamela post.
Okay, I probably have to explain what’s going on. So at this point in the book, it’s not longer split up into letters, since Pamela, you know, can’t send letters anymore. [Ariel says: Thank God.] So it’s basically a diary at this point, divided by nothing more than what day of the week she’s writing about, which makes things perfectly awful for me to try to convey what fucking part of the book I’m reading. [Ariel says: I spoke too soon 🙁 ]
By Saturday (the third day of kidnapping), Pamela has not yet fallen victim to Stockholm Syndrome, possibly making this book a smidgen more progressive than Fifty Shades of Grey. [Ariel adds: And Beauty and the Beast.]
I am resolved, if possible, to find some way to escape, before this wicked master comes, [but everyone here are] strange creatures, that promise nothing
[Ariel says: Wait when she says “strange creatures” does she mean candlesticks that sing and dance?]
Pamela does, however, intuit that the local clergyman, Mr. Williams, “seemed to take great notice of my distress and grief” but “appeared fearful of Mrs. Jewkes”. Maybe Pamela has a future ally and/or 18th century Jacob? Anything is possible in a genre that hasn’t gotten any less misogynistic since the 1700s!
Pamela’s plans to keep writing in case she does find a way to get a message to her family are foiled (except not, because reasons) by Mrs. Jewkes, whom the Master has given instructions to read everything Pamela has written.
“I am told you are a great writer; and it is in my instructions to see all you write”
The Master falling madly in love with Pamela based on her “being a good writer” is maybe the most perplexing thing about this book, since Pamela’s repetitive, “everyone hates me :(” writing makes this seem sort of like he fell in love reading a rambling teenager’s LiveJournal. [Ariel says: Or worse. Xanga.]
On Sunday, Mrs. Jewkes refuses to let Pamela go to church, and then, in order to prevent her from going, takes her shoes. Pamela finally elaborates on the monster that is Mrs. Jewkes, so that we sympathize with Pamela’s plight:
She is a broad, squat, pursy, fat thing, quite ugly, if any thing human can be so called
Well, shit, Pamela! Were we supposed to sympathize with you? That was just mean! [Ariel says: You know who should meet Pamela? Zoey Redbird.]
[Mrs. Jewkes will let me] have my shoes again, if I will accept of her company to walk […] in the garden. – To waddle with [her], rather, thought I.
Pamela, you are not being very nice, I don’t care if this woman is helping you be kidnapped.
Suddenly, John (who secretly delivered Pamela’s letters to her family in the past) shows up! Which Pamela writes in her diary in real time for some goddamn reason:
I am told John, honest John, is come on horseback! […] I’ll tell you more by and by. […] Alas! but he looks sad, as I see him out of the window! What can be the matter!
LEAVE THE FUCKING HOUSE, PAMELA. Instead of writing that you can see him arriving, and that he looks sad, and taking note that you wonder how sad he is for the benefit of future generations, GO FIND OUT AND THEN JUST WRITE THAT DOWN.
John gives her a letter from the Master, asking her to copy a letter (in her handwriting) for her parents that HE WROTE to let them know that she’s okay. Pamela does it – lest her parents suffer more – but tells the master that she is pretty pissed off about it. [Ariel says: Just like all the times Ana told Christian she was really totally mad at him but went along with his wishes/commands anyway.]
As for honest John, Pamela finds out that he’s not all that honest! On Monday (“the 5th Day of my Bondage and Misery” as Pamela helpfully reminds us)[Ariel sings: On the 5th Day of Bondage and Misery my master gave to meeeee: 3 suggestive comments, 2 fondled bosoms, and he tried to steal my virginity.], John secretly leaves Pamela a note before he leaves, explaining that he gave the Master her letters before delivering them to her parents, but he never expected it to lead to such disastrous consequences for Pamela, and he feels terrible, though he was largely powerless to disobey the powerful Master’s commands. Pamela understands John’s own unfortunate role in their society’s uneven class system, and – pfffft of course she doesn’t. ALL MEN ARE MONSTERS.
O the deceitfulness of the heart of man! This John, that I took to be the honestest of men […] was all the while a vile hypocrite, and a perfidious wretch
Sure, I’d be pissed too, but this seems a bit harsh? Apparently criticism of the larger issues of an uneven class structure is beyond Pamela when “but I ain’t no ho!” is the real issue here:
Should not a gentleman prefer an honest servant to a guilty harlot? […] I dread of all things to be seduced, and would rather lose my life than my honesty
Adding to that realism that academia just raves about in Pamela, Pamela goes on a lengthy explanation of how she gets the paper to keep her log of every little thought in her head as it happens, rewrite every single letter she sends or receives, etc:
“I want some paper, Mrs. Jewkes,” (putting what I [had] in my bosom), “You know I have written two letters” […]
“Well,” said she, “You have some left; one sheet did for those two letters.”
“Yes,” said I, “But I used half another for a cover, you know; and see how I have scribbled the other half” […]
“Ay,” said she, “So you have; well, I’ll give you two sheets more”
BULL. SHIT. Is Pamela’s handwriting in size zero font? No way Pamela is writing all this crap on two sheets of paper.
You know what would be a great way to save paper, though? NOT WRITING EVERY SINGLE THING THAT HAPPENS WHILE YOU’RE WRITING.
On Wednesday, Pamela manages to hide a letter to Mr. Williams, the clergyman, about her plight in his garden. (Believe me, she goes into enough detail on how she was able to pull this off.) Pamela tries to see if he hid a response, but can’t manage to do so out of Mrs. Jewkes sight the next morning, and even instigates an argument over how no one thinks she’s being treated unfairly. Again. Not that she certainly doesn’t have the right to, it’s just that… we sort of assumed? We probably don’t have to read each identical one?
“Why, Jezebel,” said I, (I could not help it,) “would you ruin me by force?”
Upon this she gave me a deadly slap upon my shoulder: “Take that,” said she; “Who do you call Jezebel?”
Even if they contain a catfight with some antiquated insults?
Later on Thursday, Pamela manages to get Mr. Williams’s response, where he decrees that – although he is dependent on the Master for his entire income – he will help Pamela, even at this great risk to himself. Because it’s the right thing to do!
“I see no probability of keeping myself concealed in this matter; but will, as I said, risk all things to serve you; for I never saw a sweetness and innocence like yours”
Oh. Nevermind. It’s just because Pamela is the specialest. FALSE ALARM, IT’S THE SAME OLD CRAP.
Anyway, ready to challenge your suspension of disbelief again? If you thought that “here’s two pieces of paper to write tens of thousands of words on” thing was bullshit, prepare to be amazed:
I begin to be afraid my writings may be discovered; for they grow large! I stitch them hitherto in my under-coat, next to my linen
So Pamela is hiding this diary by sewing it inside of her clothing. All of it. My copy of this book is five hundred pages long. [Ariel says: It sounds like Pamela’s diary is the written equivalent of a clown car.]
Naturally, the detail that Pamela is routinely sewing dozens or hundreds of pieces of paper inside her clothing somehow undetectably goes unchallenged throughout the entire book.
Good thing Pamela’s apparently writing this 500 page novel on two pieces of paper!
Pamela and Mrs. Jewkes go fishing. Pamela lays it on really thick.
“O, Mrs. Jewkes!” said I, “I was thinking this poor carp was the unhappy Pamela.”
In third person.
Pamela gets bad news from Mr. Williams: none of the gentlemen or ladies of higher class want to help Pamela out because they don’t want to make enemies with her Master. Furthermore, the patriarchy:
“[Sir Simon] said to his lady in my presence, ‘Why, […] if he takes care she wants for nothing, I don’t see any great injury will be done her. He hurts no family by this.'” […]
“I have hinted your case to Mr. Peters, the minister of this parish, [who said that Mr. B——] is no covetous nor wicked gentleman, except in this case; and ’tis what all young gentlemen will do.”
Mr. Williams does actually point out that “it seems that poor people’s honesty is to go for nothing”, so the sympathetic characters are all aware that this is an incredibly unfair abuse of power. Curious that the novel ends with “but it’s totally fine because LOVE” anyway.