Pamela: Or Virtue Rewarded

Marriage in Pamela and Fanny Hill College

Class and gender chiefly governed British society in the eighteenth century and the opportunities for a woman to achieve social and financial security were scarce. In this society men of the upper class governed the female identity. This patriarchal climate stipulated that “a respectable woman was nothing but the potential mother of children” (Blease 7). In the context of eighteenth century British society, this prescribed duty implied marriage first and was shortly followed by procreation and duties relating to family life.

Although marriage and maternity provided the only socially acceptable path for women during this time, some women turned to prostitution as an alternate means of subsistence. However, in eighteenth century society, where sexuality, especially female sexuality, was repressed, prostitution as a line of work was largely taboo. Thus, marriage during this time provided the only respectable means for a woman to achieve a comfortable and virtuous life. In addition, amidst a socially stratified society, marriage also served an alternate purpose as a potential means by which a woman could elevate her social situation. These social politics, combined with the sexual inequality that characterised eighteenth century...

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