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Pamela or Virtue Rewarded is a collection of letter that had a great success during Augustan Age both for the theme of the story and the form of the novel.
First of all the story includes two themes deeply felt by the social classes that read novels in the Age of reason. Firstly the theme of reward, since Richardson’s tendency to use the Puritan middle-class scheme of reward and punishment is recurrent in lots of his novels.
Dealing with the Puritans, working hard to improve your conditions will let people gain a reward from God, while sins are punished by him. Pamela, who has the typical Richardson’s heroines features (youth, charm, knowledge, sense of justice and Christian piety), deserved to be rewarded from God because of her virtue (the reward is the high social position obtained from the marriage with Mr. B).
Secondly, the theme of the fracture in the discriminating and firm system of classes, despite the fact that Richardson is conscious of the difference between the two classes. Nevertheless, he underlines the important belief coming from the Enlightenment: the destruction of any social barrier and the refusal of aristocracy’s arrogance, especially the typical male superiority of the period.
On the other side, the second reason of the great success Pamela had is the epistolaary form, a new form of writing. This form of novel embodied, as the journal, the realism that the readers wanted in the novels. It underlines the psychology of the character and higlights the intimate, hidden parts of the characters, showing different points of view on the same event. It shows moods and feelings of Pamela and Mr. B, who are round characters, whose development is mostly seen thanks to this type of form and the immediacy of this form, as the readers are in the act of composition feeling the very moment of the situation.
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