Previously on Pamela, Pamela’s been kidnapped by her Master, but is working on an escape plan with the local clergyman, Mr. Williams, who could not possibly throw a loop in the Pamela-Mister B—— romance.
With Mr. Williams having no success finding another family willing to help Pamela escape and Pamela having nothing to do, Pamela writes some more subtle poetry:
Remember, Lord, this Mrs. Jewkes,
When, with a mighty sound,
She cries, Down with her chastity,
Down to the very ground!
Pamela manages to get Mr. Williams her letters, so he can deliver them to her parents. When he departs, Mrs. Jewkes suspects something is up, but it’s not about the letters:
He looked at me with such respect and solemness at parting, that Mrs. Jewkes said, “Why, madam, I believe our young parson is half in love with you.”
Then things get weirdly out of character for Mrs. Jewkes. Also just weird all around. [Ariel says: I don’t even really understand her character. They all sound the same to me!]
“Seeing how heavily you apprehend dishonour from my master, […] I think it is a pity you should not have Mr. Williams [as a husband].”
Whaaaat. Where did this come from? [Ariel says: Wait, is her logic simply that because Pamela refused the master she should just go marry Mr. Williams instead?] [Matthew says: Apparently? There literally isn’t anything else we have to work with.] Isn’t Mrs. Jewkes, you know, a one-dimensional character serving the Master’s plot to get Pamela to
give up and fuck him fall in love with him? That’s kind of a weird thing for someone in this position to say. Maybe Mrs. Jewkes’s character isn’t one-dimensional? (Spoiler: No.) Either way, Pamela’s not having any of it, because Pamela don’t need no man.
“There is not [a] man living that I desire to marry. If I can but keep myself honest, it is all my desire […] is the very top of my ambition.”
Apparently Pamela is the 18th century Frozen too.
Suddenly, Pamela helpfully reminds us that the Master did once have that super logical plan of marrying her off she he could have a nice, respectable affair with her, as opposed to a ruinous affair with a lower-class girl. She writes in her letter that she wonders if Mrs. Jewkes knew about that plan. But things get even more crazy when she reads her last letter from Mr. Williams before he left and he makes the lamest proposal ever.
“I really know but one effectual and honourable way to disengage yourself from the dangerous situation you are in. It is that of marriage with some person that you could make happy in your approbation. […] I should think myself but too happy, if I might be accepted. […] Don’t think this a sudden resolution. […] the moment I saw you, [I] wished to serve so much excellence.”
“Hahaha what if we just got married instead hahaha I’VE ALWAYS LOVED YOU.”
Pamela is rather shocked this man who hardly knows her is throwing himself at her, because she’s clearly not used to being the leading woman in a romance novel yet. While she admits that she could see herself “marry[ing] a man who begs from door to door, and has no home nor being, [who would not] endanger my honesty” – whatever floats your boat, Pamela – she can’t accept his offer.
Too bad it’s the 18th century!
Mr. Williams and Mrs. Jewkes came to me both together; he in ecstacies, she with a strange fluttering sort of air. “Well,” said she, “Mrs. Pamela, I give you joy! […] Every thing turns out as I said it would! […] Why, there is to be a match between you and Mr. Williams!”
Mrs. Jewkes and Mr. Williams give Pamela the letters the Master wrote to both of them, and then leave her alone with them for a long enough period of time for her to copy them into her letters for no particular reason. Just ’cause. [Ariel says: I guess she was running out of other things to sew into her clothes.] The Master writes to Mr. Williams that he’ll offer him Pamela as a wife (for no particular reason?) (also because apparently he can do that?), but only if Pamela approves of it. While everyone expects Pamela to be rather pleased with this news, Pamela insists she must consult her parents first.
Pamela also gets eight more pieces of paper from Mrs. Jewkes, which will surely be a significant help on top of the 149 pages she’s already written.
The next morning, Pamela wakes up to learn that Mr. Williams was attacked by rogues going home the last night, who amazingly stole everything he had on him except for Pamela’s letters. [Ariel says: Even the rogues were like, “Fuck, this girl writes too much. Make sure you don’t accidentally take even one of those damn things.”] Amazingly. Mrs. Jewkes goes to see him in ye olde hospital (I honestly have no idea what they did with injured people back then). Pamela – being the good, innocent soul that she always says she is – refuses to go see him. So… yeah. [Ariel says: I guess hospital sex is too much of a risk for a pure woman like Pamela?]
Interestingly, Mrs. Jewkes leaves Pamela completely unattended. Pamela realizes she has ample opportunity to escape, but does not, because – I shit you not – she is scared of a bull.
I believe Lucifer is bribed, as well as all about me, and is got into the shape of that nasty grim bull to watch me!
Of course, Pamela writes all of this. I want you to take a moment to really get a mental picture of this. Picture a person leaving a house, getting scared of an animal, running back in the house and writing about how scared they were, that they’re going to try again, and then repeating this process over and over again. Because that is actually what is happening in this book right now.
- I have strange temptations to get away in [Mrs. Jewkes’s] absence. […] If anything should go bad afterwards, I should never forgive myself, for not taking the opportunity. Well, I will go down again, and see if all is clear
- There stood that horrid bull, staring me full in the face […] So I got in again, for fear he should come at me.
- Well, I have just now a sort of strange persuasion upon me, that I ought to try to get way […] So once more – I’ll see, at least, if this bull be still there.
- Well, here I am, come back again!
- Why then should I be afraid? I will go down again, I think!
- I had got twice as far again, as I was before, out of the backdoor: and I looked and saw the bull […] “O help!” cried I
[Ariel says: Can you imagine if Misery had been written like this? Paul Sheldon is like, “I was about to leave Annie’s house, but I saw a really scary cat in the bushes. Let me write about it in my book instead of escaping.”]
To be fair, no, I would not want to mess with a potentially ill-natured giant, horned animal either. But surely there was another way to leave the completely unattended house. Like… 360 degrees worth of other ways. Also – once more, with feeling – WHY IS PAMELA WRITING LITERALLY EVERYTHING?
Mrs. Jewkes comes back, laughing at how minor Mr. Williams’s injuries actually are, because she’s apparently back to being a one-dimensionally mean character. Pamela picks up on this subtle shift and notices that Mrs. Jewkes seems super suspicious, and deduces that Mr. Williams must have slipped that he and Pamela had been conversing ever since she got to the house.
But before that aftermath happens, Pamela gets a surprise letter from her father, writing to express joy that she is alive and mostly well during this terrible kidnapping ordeal:
“Blessed be the Divine goodness, which has enabled thee to withstand so many temptations!”
Or to express joy that she’s still a virgin. Right. Hey, Pamela’s father.
“We have not yet had leisure to read through you long accounts of all your hardships. I say long, because I wonder how you could find time and opportunity for them.”
HUH, I’VE THOUGHT ABOUT THAT TOO. God, even Pamela’s dad thinks Pamela writes too fucking much.
Pamela’s dad encourages the marriage with Mr. Williams. Too bad Mr. Williams fucked it all up by telling Mrs. Jewkes that he was secretly conspiring with Pamela to help her run away by marrying him. Mrs. Jewkes accidentally gives Pamela a letter from the Master intended for her, and he does not have very nice things to say about Pamela:
“This wretched fool’s plaything, no doubt, is ready to leap at anything that offers, rather than express the least sense of gratitude for all the benefits she has received from my family, and which I was determined more and more to heap upon her.”
I’d like to talk about Nice Guys for a second.
A Nice Guy, as defined by the fantastic Jezebel article, “A Field Guide to ‘Nice Guys'”:
When using the phrase ‘Nice Guys’ with a capital NG, I don’t mean a man who happens to be a genuinely kind person. […] I mean the sort of Guy who has declared himself to be Nice, and thus deserving of positive (usually sexual) attention from the female of his choice, [regardless of] anything to do with the subject’s actual feelings or desires. When a Nice Guy is romantically rejected by a woman he wants, he lashes out at her, wondering why that dumb cunt won’t go out with him. After all, he has been Nice!
Is it really all that fair to criticize this novel from 1740 for romanticizing this type of behavior? Maybe not; feminism hadn’t been invented yet! But does that mean we should still read it now? At the same time, it’s not like this type of character is unheard of in modern art, either. Duckie from Pretty in Pink is a pretty common example, and most recently I was – actually – rather enjoying last February’s Vampire Academy movie before a character we were clearly supposed to feel sympathetic for expressed dismay that after all he had done to help out the main character, she wouldn’t even give him so much as a kiss. But the difference is that, in the former, Duckie learns his lesson (arguably) and that, in the latter, at least it was just a minor character. But this is all of fucking Pamela. There are no other angles to it. The narrative is so antiquated and single-mindedly misogynist to its core that its ongoing position in academia is rather insulting. Whatever other significant contributions Pamela arguably had to the form of the novel (which I hope the coverage on this blog also helps bring up for debate, because Richardson solved a plot hole with “Pamela gets scared of a cow”), the content simply has no need for preservation on a college syllabus. The Master doesn’t carry any meaning as a conflicted figure – he’s just whiny.
Anyway, now that we’ve applied 2010s feminism to a 1740s text, what does Mister Bucket O’ Dicks do to our somehow-more-pointless-to-the-narrative-than-Fifty-Shades-Jose, Mr. Williams?
I have ordered Mr. Shorter, my attorney, to throw him instantly into gaol, on an action of debt
WOW. Okay. Debtors’ prison. Just like that. Clearly this was a proportionate reaction.
Pamela reads the rest of the Master’s letter that Mrs. Jewkes hasn’t realized she accidentally gave her yet. In it, she learns that the Master is sending a giant man along to help Mrs. Jewkes keep Pamela prisoner, and (more humorously) calls her a “gewgaw”, whatever that is. Dang, Pamela, things look really bad! Maybe you shouldn’t have gotten too scared of a bull to run away from a guy who kidnapped you that time you had a chance, huh?