The Power of Example: Fantomina and Pamela College

To act as an ‘example’ is to influence another’s actions. If the effects are, as Johnson claims, ‘powerful’, a responsibility of care accompanies the role of example. This responsibility may seem unnecessary, as the example seizes the ‘memory’, and exists only as a mental influence. However, this influence only temporarily exists in the mind. The ‘effects’ are realised in actions, capable of affecting individuals in a surrounding environment. A responsibility is therefore present in the conscious effort to exhibit one’s behaviour as a positive moral example, in order for these ‘effects’ that are realised in others to also be positive. Johnson specifies that these effects are produced ‘without the intervention of will’. Perhaps this suggests that the responsibility of example is present in all action, not simply the conscious activity of moulding oneself in to a positive influence. If the ‘intervention of will’ is removed, neither the example, nor the individual affected by the example have a choice as to which of their actions act as the example. Both Eliza Haywood’s Fantomina and Samuel Richardson’s Pamela engage with this concept of all action as ‘example’. Even seemingly arbitrary actions have powerful effects, suggesting...

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