Places: Pamela

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

First published: 1740-1741

Type of work: Novel

Type of plot: Epistolary

Time of work: Early eighteenth century

Places DiscussedGarden

Garden. PamelaWalled garden on the Lincolnshire estate of the young squire Mr. B––, where Pamela Andrews has been reduced to a servant because of her family’s declining fortunes. The squire wants to seduce the virtuous young Pamela, who uses the garden to meet, or correspond with, Mr. Williams, the local clergyman, who loves her. The plot of the story centers on threats to Pamela’s virtue, her successful defense, and the rewards she receives as a result of her steadfastness, just as the biblical story of Adam and Eve centers on the serpent’s efforts to seduce Eve from her innocence. Pamela’s first temptation, like Eve’s, takes place in a garden. The garden of Mr. B––’s Lincolnshire estate becomes a setting that helps chart Pamela’s seeming recoiling from, and eventual seduction of, her master. Eventually, Mr. B––’s love for Pamela overcomes his lust and his pride of caste. They are married by Mr. Williams in the restored chapel on his estate. Pamela’s virtue is rewarded by marriage and by B––’s reform. She now becomes the mistress of his estates in Bedfordshire and Lincolnshire.

To Pamela, the estate’s old-fashioned walled garden at first appears to be a prison, as its high walls serve only to shut her in. Later, however, it also seems to be a refuge, protecting her from external dangers. Similarly, other natural features trace Pamela’s progress from captive to captivator. Ultimately, the fifteen-year-old Pamela turns her principal disability–her inferior status–into an impregnable fortress.

The eighteenth century was the great age of the English garden. Tudor gardens, characterized by encircling walls, were redone in the new fashion of sunken fences that opened new floral vistas. Pamela’s letters describing Mr. B––’s house and garden lead readers to infer that neither had been much altered. The pleasantly unfashionable nature of the garden suggests fidelity to old values. The garden is also relatively unpretentious. For example, Pamela uses a plain sunflower to mark the hiding places for the letters that her presumably loyal friend Parson Williams will carry to their destinations.


Pond. Pool of water in the Lincolnshire estate’s garden. Early during her confinement, Pamela fishes in the garden’s pond and catches a carp. After considering the parallel between the fish and herself, she lets the carp go. Later, the pond assumes a more sinister aspect when Pamela contemplates suicide. Finally, as Mr. B–– moves toward proposing marriage to her, he sits beside her as she kneels on the bank of the pond, takes her in his arms, and tells her, “I love you with a purer flame than ever I knew in my life, and which commenced for you in the garden.”

BibliographyBrissenden, R. F. Samuel Richardson. New York: Longmans, Green, 1965. Emphasizes Rich-ardson’s work over his biography. Provides a useful starting point for readers unfamiliar with Pamela.Day, Martin S. History of English Literature, 1660-1837. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1963. Compares Pamela to the Cinderella story, claiming Pamela Andrews as “the first great character creation in English prose fiction.”Eaves, T. C. Duncan, and Ben D. Kimpel. Samuel Richardson: A Biography. Oxford, England: Clarendon Press, 1971. Although the authors’ chief attention is to Richardson’s life, they consistently connect his life and writing, offering extensive commentary on Pamela’s evolution.Flynn, Carol Houlihan. Samuel Richardson: A Man of Letters. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1982. Approximately one-third of this carefully researched, splendidly reasoned assessment of Richardson and his work is devoted to Pamela.Keymer, Tom. Richardson’s Clarissa and the Eighteenth Century Reader. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1992. Although Keymer’s major focus is on Clarissa, he makes cogent comparisons to Pamela and helps readers to understand the cultural milieu Richardson addressed.McKillop, Alan Dugald. Samuel Richardson, Printer and Novelist. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1936. McKillop focuses on Richardson’s later years, 1739-1754, during which his significant writing was accomplished. Detailed, biographically oriented commentary on Pamela.Watt, Ian. The Rise of the Novel: Studies in Defoe, Richardson, and Fielding. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1957. Watt assesses Pamela in a chapter emphasizing Richardson’s initiation of the novel as a genre.
Categories: Places