Now that Pamela’s selflessness and the Master’s wealth have combined forces, the book occasionally becomes charity-porn:
I begged leave to send a guinea to a poor body in the town […]
“Send two, my dear, if you please. […] I will allow you two hundred pounds a year,” [the Master said.] “For your own use, and of which I expect no account”
In case you want to indulge in fictional characters using vast amounts of fictional money to solve other fictional characters’ problems. Fulfilling? [Ariel says: If you liked watching these characters throw money at the stupid problem you may also enjoy the Crossfire series, the Fifty Shades trilogy, and Beautiful/Walking Disaster.]
It’s worth noting that by this point, Pamela has stopped writing “the 60th day of my imprisonment”, and instead goes with “the fourth day of my happiness”. It would probably be really weird if she weren’t doing this, to be fair, but given that the modern reader isn’t entirely convinced…[Ariel says: What makes this so great is that it’s exactly the same situation as before except she finally caved and married the guy. It’s like she stayed in prison but was really impressed by the new snack selection. The bar couldn’t go much lower.]
Speaking of things that look a little weird to the modern reader, the Master lays down some rules for Pamela on What Women Are Like:
“I have often observed, in married folks, that, in a little while, the lady grows careless in her dress […] this has always given me great offense, and I should not forgive it, even in my Pamela. “
YEAH, YOU WEAR THE PANTS IN THIS RELATIONSHIP, MASTER. [Ariel says: Dude, this was written back in the friggen day and this is still a famous cliche. Woman gets married and then she’s with the sweatpants and the old t-shirt with the stains and the hairy armpits.]
“Dear sir,” said I, “pray give me more of your sweet injunctions.”
Obviously Pamela is a little dated, but it’s still kind of amazing how a man wrote a book where a man tells a woman how women are allowed to behave, and her response is “Fascinating! Tell me more!”
“O dearest, dear sir,” said I, […] “You oblige and improve me at the same time! Oh what a happy lot is mine!”
[Ariel says: Hahahaha I feel like if you read this with a more optimistic attitude, this just sounds so sarcastic and hysterical. I sincerely wish that was actually how it was meant to be written because no one would ever say something like this nowadays without it being just covered in snark. Which means I’m going to start saying this immediately next time Jeremy tells me to stop farting.]
To emphasize his point about how important it is to be… zen… (????) The Master tells a story about how he… had a dream about how he bashed a guy’s head in? Seriously, you gotta read this shit.
“Be sure, my dear,” continued he, “let no little accidents ruffle your temper. I shall never forget once that I was at Lady Arthur’s; and a footman happened to stumble, and let fall a fine china dish, and broke it all to pieces […] It affected me so much that when I came home, I went to bed, and dreamt that Robin, with the handle of his whip, broke the fore glass of my chariot, and I was so solicitous […] that I broke his head in revenge, and stabbed one of my coach-horses.”
This is the most unsettling, irrelevant “Cool story, bro” ever. This would be like explaining how your shower works to a houseguest and telling them a dream about how this one time you had sex with an alien goat in a shower to help them remember how the drain works. [Also can we please discuss how he stabbed one of his coach-horses??? Yeah, you definitely want to be married to a guy who was so angry at someone else that not only did he break this guy’s head, but then he stabbed his own horse for no reason! Like imagine if he gets mad at someone else and he breaks their head and then stabs you, Pamela!]
Pamela, of course, doesn’t see it this way.
I was exceedingly diverted with the facetious hints, and the pleasant manner in which he gave them
Pamela, I don’t think you were listening to the same story. [Ariel says: My mistake, stabbing your horse is a super pleasant story for all to enjoy.]
The Master somehow manages to make things more uncomfortable.
Spanning my waist with his hands, [he] said, “What a sweet shape is here! It would make one regret to lose it, and yet, my beloved Pamela, I shall think nothing but that loss wanting, to complete my happiness.”
“You’re super hot, but I’d be okay with giving that up if you had my kids” is probably the worst way to say, “Hey, I want to have kids”.
Pamela and the Master are supposed to go to their friend’s, but the Master suddenly has to go visit a sick tenant. He sends a message to Pamela later that day that he has to stay later than he thought, and that they should meet at their friends rather than go together, since it’ll save everyone time. Which sounds perfectly reasonable, except this is the 18th century. So you would think this is going in a “Pamela has to overcome her feelings about her social standing OH NO” drama again, but it gets WAY MORE DRAMATIC when the Master’s Pamela-hating sister shows up out of the blue.
How unlucky this is! What shall I do! Here is Lady Davers come […] and my kind protector a great, great many miles off!
Ariel and I would have used the word “contrived”, but “unlucky” works too. [Ariel says: Well it’s no ‘if you lose this bet you have to come live in my house/sleep in my bed.’ But it’s getting there!]
Pamela and Mrs. Jewkes try the ever popular “cough I’m sick” plan to get her to go away, although Pamela pushes it a little too far.
“Tell her,” said I, “I am sick [in] bed. I’m dying.”
Lady Davers and her nephew are ridiculously rude to Pamela, because if there’s one single believable thing in this book, it’s that rich people fucking hate poor people.
She asked [Mrs. Jewkes] if I was whored yet!
As it has been for the whole novel, the only possible reaction to seeing an attractive woman is to sexually assault them. Even if your family is, like, right there.
“A charming girl,
though!” Said her rakish nephew […] “Dear aunt, forgive me, but I must kiss her”
Pamela tries to divert actually answering any questions, but can only give not-answers for so long. And can also only not break into tears for so long.
I could no longer refrain tears, but said, “Pray, your ladyship, let me ask what I have done[?] I never did your ladyship any harm.”
Fun fact: my copy of Pamela is a used copy from my college bookstore, and this line was underlined by a previous owner with “STOP CRYING!” written in the margins. [Ariel says: I hope that poor soul finds this blog and knows he or she is not alone.]
Lady Davers explains that she used to pity Pamela when she thought her brother had kidnapped her and raped her, but now that she thinks that Pamela instead succumbed to his advances whilst kidnapped and slept with him, now she hates her. It’s probably not worth my time to write too much critique about the gender politics in the 18th century Pamela, but fuck this noise. This is the entire plot! Why are we still talking about this book in 2014?
“I fear you have suffered yourself to be prevailed upon, and have lost your innocence […]”
“I have not lost my innocence!”
Because this entire book is about how Pamela’s only awesome because she’s a virgin. It’s like The Madonna Whore Complex: The Novel!
Lady Davers tries to get some answers out of Mrs. Jewkes too, which has thankfully aged more hilariously:
“Answer me, fat-face!”
Pamela makes an unintentionally wry observation about this insult.
How these ladies are privileged.
Guys, this scene where the Master’s sister repeatedly calls Pamela a whore is so long, it goes on for more pages than I’ve covered in any single Pamela post. So, uh, get excited for more of this next week? Because it goes on. For, like, a really long time.
Question of the Week! Have you ever bought a used book that had something hilarious written in the margins?