CONSTRUCTING THE FEMALE SELF IN THE EIGHTEENTH CENTURY ENGLISH NOVEL


Posted On Oct 12 2011 by

The paper defends the interconnection between writing, space and sexuality in Samuel Richardson’s Pamela; or, Virtue Rewarded, the three key-concepts constituting the pillars in constructing one major representation of the eighteenth century female self, one that basically exudes from a particular type of emotional conduct. The epistolary narrative sequence reveals various functions assigned to letter-writing in which the relationship between the main characters is mainly represented as a game of presence/absence, relational/non-relational, use/misuse, or rejection/attraction. The letters are then the medium facilitating self-expression, confession, but also a means of psychological self-defense of the body. The letters form a written record of private life and represent a space for negotiating identities, where the problem of (mis)using identities emerges. As a space of conflicting cultural discourses, the letters disclose the discourse of the female servant challenging the discourse of the male master. Writing creates a space of expectation and actually manages to replace reality. Pamela’s scribbling acts as a testimony of degenerated noble pride and as a proof of a new cultural approach to domesticity, namely one based on exogamous relationships. Finally, the letters create the convenient space for the workings of imagination and, as squire B underlines, the background for Pamela to engage her memory and to display her narrative skills.

Last Updated on: October 12th, 2011 at 11:17 P, by admin


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