Pamela; or, Virtue Rewarded
was first published in 1740. Considered a classic of English literature, it was written by some sick freak named Samuel Richardson.  I originally posted a review of the book at Goodreads.com on December 2016.

In light of current events in LDS Land which highlight an increasingly obvious and troubling pattern of blindness and unconcern to all things sexual and all things abuse, my thoughts have turned back again to the subject of abuse within the LDS context.


[Video: Sitting LDS Bishop David N Moss Arrested in Human Trafficking Sting]

Remember back in 1996 when President Hinckley called these behaviors “blips”?


[Video: 60 Minutes Interview between Mike Wallace and President Gordon B Hinckley]

My immediate reaction to this Hinckley memory is another memory. It’s of a song that I first heard as a teenager, in around 1989 or 1990. I remember feeling puzzled by the song. Even though I couldn’t quite comprehend what it meant, my heart still felt like what Roger Whittaker was singing was true. This scared me though, because the song felt most true when I was sad, bitter or depressed again because of the inescapable and  overarching ecclesiastically-tinged abuse that I was experiencing at almost “all times and in all things and in all places” during that time. I also felt guilty for liking it, because I’d learned in seminary of the If-Then principle of how covenants with God worked. After all, D&C 82:10 was my mother’s favorite verse. My father was my branch president and my branch president was my father. He was also an influential presence in the community, and therefore his power seeped into my school environment, too. I loved my Church, and I loved my parents (or at least ever-guiltily knew that I was always supposed to), so how could I dare to listen to, let alone find comfort in a song like this?


[Video: I Don’t Believe In If Anymore by Roger Whittaker]

Well, with some things I guess you have to give it almost 30 years. I came across more information about this song yesterday. Many people believe that Roger Whittaker was referring to Rudyard Kipling’s most famous poem, If.  The verses were written as a gift for his only son John’s 18th birthday. Sources state that If remains the favorite poem of the British people. I also found this information:

“Kipling actively encouraged his young son John to go to war… John died in the First World War, at the Battle of Loos in September 1915, at age 18. John had initially wanted to join the Royal Navy, but having had his application turned down after a failed medical examination due to poor eyesight, he opted to apply for military service as an Army officer. But again, his eyesight was an issue during the medical examination. In fact, he tried twice to enlist, but was rejected. His father had been lifelong friends with Lord Roberts, commander-in-chief of the British Army, and colonel of the Irish Guards, and at Rudyard’s request, John was accepted into the Irish Guards… John was sent to Loos two days into the battle in a reinforcement contingent. He was last seen stumbling through the mud blindly, screaming in agony after an exploding shell had ripped his face apart.” 

After his son’s death, Kipling wrote,

“If any question why we died
Tell them, because our fathers lied.”

So the first reason I have decided to post my review here is because I have realized this:

I don’t believe in blips anymore.

The second reason I’ve decided to post this review on my own blog is because I consider myself to be somewhat of a writer. Even though this blurb is a somewhat short composition (for me), I’d like to repatriate this lost piece of my writing back into my family of work.

 

I acknowledge, with thanks, the work another blogger already did of finding original illustrations from the book. I have used two of them in this post. So here goes with my review:

 

** Spoiler Alert ** Pamela; or, Virtue Rewarded ** Spoiler Alert **

I recently watched the oddly-ending BBC documentary, A Very British Romance, featuring hosting and commentary by historian Lucy Worsley.  (I say “oddly ending” because how do centuries of heterosexual romance reach their pinnacle of development and perfection in legalizing gay marriage? Huh? We’ve been discussing apples and now it is logical to you to end in celebrations for oranges?) Anyway, I was intrigued to learn of the existence of Pamela; or, Virtue Rewarded, and of its apparent influence upon later influential authors like Jane Austen and the Brontes.

I’d had a good experience before with reading authors who’d influenced authors. For example, I read George MacDonald because C.S. Lewis liked him. So I searched YouTube to see if Pamela had been made into a “bonnet movie”. Richardson’s later book, Clarissa, apparently has been, but not Pamela; at least not on YouTube. I did discover that Librivox.org had this book, so I listened until this morning, which is, I guess, about the halfway point – just when Pamela is being swept off to Lincolnshire. With many props to the perceptive review by Cristal Crowley on April 15, 2013, let me flesh out and fill in her rant [about the reward of Pamela’s virtue being to marry her abuser]:

The horror dawned on me slowly, at first. What? Does this mean there are more of them? Am I to believe that this behavior is so common that it’s a centuries-old LITERARY TYPE?! Oh my gosh, have men never changed? Do reprobates have a playbook and is this one of the original ones? I found myself both fascinated and shocked at the eerie patterns, the oh-my-heck and deja-vu familiarity of it all. For example, casting all personal evil off of ones-self (the abuser) and onto the innocent party (the abuse victim). Also quite recognizable in Mr. B are the patterns of the sociopathic narcissist, including isolating one’s victim, gas lighting, and horrible anger when confronted with refusal or truth, just to name a few. It was all there, way back then, just as it still is now. For, you see, I was a young 18 year old girl once, and finding myself in a position much like Pamela’s, I got sucked into a vortex that included marriage to, children with, bitter divorce from, and ongoing custody battles with a demon-incarnate 28 years my senior.

Therefore, I found myself increasingly less sympathetic toward and more frustrated with the protagonist, the farther the book progressed. While she had many advantages I did not, especially the closeness to her parents and being beloved by all her peers or social equals in servitude, I wanted to SCREAM at her, “Get out! At whatever cost! At whatever question others may fling at your honor: quit killing us all with making us read your tedious self-praising over and over again and instead, drop your pen NOW and FLEE!” I began to believe she was not sincere, otherwise, like Joseph of Egypt vs Potiphar’s wife, why did she not get herself out??! Why didn’t she pull a Jane Eyre and nobly ACT by fleeing Thornfield?

VII: Pamela in the Bedroom with Mrs Jewkes and Mr B. 1743-4 by Joseph Highmore 1692-1780

“Illustration of a disturbing scene in the novel (spoiler), in which Pamela is about to sleep in the same bed as the housemaid Mrs Jewkes whilst Mr. B hides in the corner dressed as a sleeping drunk maid, waiting to (presumably) catch her off guard and rape her.”

I kept reading this rag as long as I did because of the small nuggets of real and astonishingly accurate wisdom that sometimes appeared, like thunder out of a clear sky, in one of Pamela’s letters. These were insights I wish I had known in my early youth; wish someone had loved me enough to say. But the longer the book droned on, the less there were of them. I am beginning to believe the aspersions which began in Richardson’s time that this novel is just pornography with a stupid, inanely repetitive plot loosely wrapped around it, to make it both titillating yet respectable enough to publish. (Are stupid books like this one the origin of such silly notions, which still exist today, that somehow oppressive, obsessive, crazy-evil Phantom actions signify truer love for helpless quailing Christines than do the quieter, plebian devotions of a Rauel?! Or that fifty shades of abusive gray are preferable to love in the pure light of white?!) [Would a happier, more Pamela-like ending to Vanity Fair have been the marriage of Becky Sharp to creepy old Sir Pitt Crawley?]

shit

I will tell you why Pamela didn’t flee the monster, and it goes beyond the ridiculous societal conventions of her day. She didn’t leave for the same reasons I did not.

1. Economic ones – little money, and no independent transportation.

2. Fear and shame of what everyone will think.

3. The naïveté, inexperience and EXTREME lack of knowledge typical to an overprotected youth such as I was.

4. False counsellors, and maybe worse, blind ones – who could not recognize abuse or the Stockholm syndrome even if they were bitten in the butt by them. I, too, was asked to stay with my jerk for the sake of others, lest suspicion be cast upon his character.

5. Stupid social patterns which expect and require respect for men in positions of esteem who don’t deserve ANY (my abuser was a lay-clergyman and a rehabilitative teacher: both typical positions where wolves in sheep’s clothing like to hide).

6. Forgiveness of known prior violations that consist of basically nothing but a slap on the wrist, so the offender is free to hurt again.

7. The ridiculous and false notion that the responsibility to guard a virgin’s virtue is exclusively her own, and all this rooted in the FALSE and EVIL religious notion of a wicked, temptress Mother Eve.

8. She was unaware of her own power, and inhibited by false core beliefs about the true nature and meaning of what it means to be a woman. For all her piousness, she was a stranger to the power and righteous belligerence of even Biblical women such as Jochebed, Zipporah, Rebekah, and Jael. Instead of endlessly waiting for someone else to come and rescue her, she could have given herself permission to defend herself. Yes, she could have embraced the derogatory label and become the much-maligned alpha bitch that polite women somehow fear to be. (Beautiful Intelligent Tenacious Courageous Holy). Like The Paperbag Princess, she could gave simply saved herself by taking the most DEFINITE action with the CLEAREST meaning possible as EARLY in the novel as possible. But THAT would not have sold Richardson’s books. Helpless is as helpless does: The Lord helps those who help themselves. Yes, even 18th century women (gasp!!! IKR?).

This tome depresses me, and I quit reading it because I didn’t want to go to the happy ending of Pamela marrying her abuser that I knew had to be next. I quit reading because I just cannot believe Pamela’s husband could possibly have become PERMANENTLY reformed or changed. No, not with the behaviors he demonstrated. My ex never did, never has, and I don’t imagine, at his ripe old current [February 2019 age of 73], that he ever will.

pamelafreak

“Pamela, pay no attention to the man behind the curtain…”

Unlike “our poor Pamela”, (poor, perhaps from her own stupid choices to keep trusting where trust had repeatedly proven to be both unwise and unmerited), I finally had enough of his crap after 10 years, and

“pulled a Joseph of Egypt”,

bat out of hell style,

[disobeying all the councils of my LDS church leaders to keep staying],

like I should have done a decade earlier.

Best. Choice. Ever.

donny
run

This post is dedicated to all the “stark raving crazy lunatics”
that those who don’t know a damn thing
call those of us who are survivors.

 


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