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Pamela. Or, Virtue Rewarded

Pamela. Or, Virtue Rewarded - Samuel Richardson Creepy 18th-century Guy: Hey, baby. Now that my mom died, I’m your boss now.

Innocent Maidservant: Um, yeah. I know.

CG: But don’t worry. I’ll take reeeeaaaallly good care of you.

IM: ...thanks?

CG: And I’m sure you’ll want to be nice to me right back, if you know what I’m saying. Wink, wink. Nudge, nudge.

IM: I always try to be nice, sir.

CG: Have I mentioned how hot you are?

IM: Okay, this is getting uncool.

CG: Hey, I’m all rich and powerful and you’re just some little nobody. You should be flattered I’m even noticing you.

IM: ...again with the thanks?

CG: I have a bleep-ton of money, and I’m willing to share.

IM: I’m happy with my salary, sir.

CG: But you could be making waaaaay more money. AND you could be making me happy. I mean, what are you – uptight?

IM: Please take your hands off me, sir.

CG: Okay, enough beating around the bush.

IM: Gross, sir.

CG: I’m ready to give you a lot of money. And a house. And cool clothes – girls like clothes, right? And I’ll throw in a nice little settlement for your parents, too, while I’m at it.

IM: If you think my parents would take money from a cad, you so don’t know them.

CG: Did you just call me a cad?

IM: I don’t know. Did I?

CG: Okay, that’s it. If you won’t accept my offer, I’ll just take what I want.

IM: You better not. I’ll scream and faint.

CG: Yeah, whatever.

IM: And I’ll fall into fits.

CG: What does that even mean?

IM: I’m not sure, but it’ll totally gross you out.

CG: Are you serious?

IM: Serious as cancer, sir.

CG: You’re not bluffing?

IM: I’m totally not.

CG: Holding out for more money?

IM: Nope.

CG: I’ll kidnap you and stuff.

IM: I feel a fit coming on.

CG: Ew, don’t.

IM: Can’t help it. I’m just that virtuous.

CG: The way you say no is making me hotter for you every minute.

IM: Yes, sir. That’s called being male.

CG: I can’t live without you! Marry me!

IM: Sure!

CG: Seriously?

IM: Heck, yeah. I had a total crush on you all along. I knew deep deep deep deep down you had to be a really nice guy.

CG: Just so you know: After we’re married, I’m going to do that thing where I talk about how you’re so much better than I am, and then I’m going to prove how much I believe it by being the total boss of you.

IM: Now who’s making ME hot?

CG: Awesome.

Okay, so it’s not exactly a feminist classic.

Although in a weird way, it sort of is. If you squint.

Fact: Pamela was the first English-language novel whose heroine worked for a living. It still stands almost alone in being a fictional portrait of a servant who has dignity, intelligence, and strong morality.

Other fact: At the time Pamela was written, it actually needed pointing out that servants were fellow human beings, and that the honor of a maidservant was, on a cosmic scale, every bit as important as that of a lady. (Sadly, this still needs pointing out to plenty of people.)

I read this because I’m working on a fictional diary of an early 19th-century girl. She’s a reader, and Pamela was the Twilight of the time. There was merchandise and everything. So I had to read this, because there’s no way she wouldn’t have.

That said: This is not a romp. If you’re not doing research, I don’t recommend this as a pleasure read. Pamela’s earnest notes on how she can strive to be the perfect wife will make any modern reader squirm, and the way he treats her after they’re married is actually creepier than his previous relentless sexual harassment. I mean, at least back then everybody knew he was being a jerk. Now he’s supposedly a reformed rake. And he’s still – well, ew.

Glad I read it. Glad I’m done.

Now I’m going to find Shamela and The Anti-Pamela, two short contemporary parodies that sound funny and have at least the virtue of being short.