“A book can be moral if it raises moral questions even if it doesn’t provide moral answers. ” That is the view of Marilyn Edelstein, associate professor of English at Santa Clara University. Morality is a widespread term used in literature from the early beginnings. The writer uses the moral perspective to discuss the corruption of the society or even the era in which he lives as a whole, to provide moral lessons and help to replace vice with virtue. There are many writers used to present moral lessons through their literary works.
For example, Samuel Richardson is one of the most popular and admired writers of his time. Richardson’s Pamela is considered the best example to reveal about the moral element in literature. So let us shed lights on the moral element through Richardson’s Pamela. Many of the objections to Samuel Richardson’s Pamela: or Virtue Rewarded have come about because of its alleged middle-class morality. Samuel Richardson wrote Pamela as an example of the value of moral behavior.
Believing in the direct intervention of God, Richardson felt that virtuous actions led to success on earth as well as in heaven. The Novel was praised for its psychological veracity and its moral influence on the readers. Pamela is the symbol of morality in Richardson’s Pamela or virtue rewarded. Pamela is a 15 years old servant girl who struggles to keep her virginity. During the past three years, Pamela has been serving the kindly Mrs. B but unfortunately she just died and her son Mr. Squire B takes control of the house hold.
He begins to flatter Pamela but she resists all his attempts to seduce her. In letters to her parents Pamela reports her Master’s attempts and vows that she will suffer any injury or social penalty rather than sacrifice her chastity. Her parents encourage this devotion to her virtue and advise her to leave Mr. B. ’s employment and return to home and poverty if ever Mr. B. makes a physical attempt on her. In spite of Mr. B. ’s continued harassment, Pamela does not manage to make the departure that she so frequently threatens.
Finally, she resolves to go and, having resisted a final effort of Mr. B. to tempt her with money for her parents and marriage to a clergyman, packs her bags to leave. Unfortunately her attempt to escape Mr. B’s harassments fails because she was kidnapped and taken to Lincolnshire estate. As soon as she reaches the estate she planes to escape. Even though Mr. B’s several attempts to rape Pamela of her virtue, she has never stopped fighting back. Pamela is willing to protect her virginity no matter what.
Pamela continues writing letters while in captivity, but as she does not know when she will be able to send them, she dispenses with salutations and signatures, so that they run together into one continuous journal. Pamela finds help in the character of Mr. Williams. Mr. Williams fails to deliver Pamela’s letters to her family. Mr. B realizes the true self of Pamela through her letters. He admires her character and virtue which eventually led to his proposal to Pamela. Pamela’s virtue is finally rewarded through Mr. B’s honest proposal of marriage.
Pamela’s virtue affected the young Miss Goodwin who is Mr. B’s daughter from a previous affair. Pamela succeeds in establishing the moral character of Miss Goodwin, who does not repeat her mother’s mistakes. The virtue described in Pamela was of a much broader and more significant scope. Pamela’s effort to co-ordinate her human drives and the moral code she had learned represented the real conflict in Pamela. To the extent that her behavior was morally acceptable, she was virtuous. Pamela’s ability to do what was right in spite of her own desires was the virtue Richardson intended to reward.