Pamela: Or Virtue Rewarded

Discuss ornament in 'Pamela' and 'Shamela'

'Oh! I feel an emotion even when I am relating this; methinks I see Pamela at this instant, with all the pride of ornament cast off.'

(Tickletext in Shamela - Henry Fielding)

Richardson's notion that to relate an emotion in ink just as it in the process of being formed, and his employment of the epistolary form for its inherent dramatic immediacy constitute his idea of 'writing to the moment', reflected in his eponymous Clarissa Harlowe's demand of her friend Anna Howe; 'I would have you write your whole mind'. This compulsive precision, reflecting the developing sense of interiority through the early modern period, and Richardson uses the epistolary technique to attend to a sort of temporal and emotional mimesis - that is, in being written down immediately as their content is being experienced, his characters' letters seem to have a fidelity to the real and in particular the real-time. Yet, in his parody of Pamela, Shamela, Henry Fielding clearly demonstrates not only the intrinsic improbability of this form - that Pamela is incapable of lying in bed with both Mrs. Jervis and Mr. B, and writing simultaneously - but also that, far from casting off any 'pride of ornament', there is...

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