Caleb Williams

The Effects of the Social Hierarchy in Caleb Williams and Pamela or Virtue Rewarded College

Samuel Richardson’s Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded and William Godwin’s Caleb Williams are both novels that deal with the influence of social hierarchy on the characters’ psychologies. In Caleb Williams, the protagonist is a young man who learns the horrifying truth about his master (Squire Falkland) and spends the entire novel being hunted down. Pamela narrates the story of a young waiting maid who is subject to the unwanted attentions of Squire Brandon. These two novels depict the respective protagonists being pursued by a person of a higher social hierarchy, and touch upon the conscious abuse of power by authorities. The master-servant relationship that exists however, makes it hard for the protagonists to do anything about their current situation and they are forced to make the best of their situations- Caleb Williams is forced into an isolation because of how Falkland has effectively turned “a million of men, in arms against (him)(Godwin, p. 259)”; Pamela Andrews is even more limited in her options because of her status as a female, but she continues to resist Squire B even after being locked up by him.

The theme of corrupt political authorities in Caleb Williams draws heavily from the real life events that William Godwin was...

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