Shamela Symbols, Allegory and Motifs

Shamela Symbols, Allegory and Motifs


Shamela is used in the novel as a symbol for sexuality. She is not shy and chaste as Pamela is described to be and uses her sexuality as a weapon against men and as a device to get what she wants from life. She doesn’t wait around for faith to provide her with what she needs and rather choses to take matters into her own hand. She admits her sexual desires and this makes her have more power over Squire Bobby than he has over her.

Weak man

At Shamela’s opposite pole is situated Squire Bobby, as a symbol for what is the complete opposite of masculinity. He is weak, easy to manipulate and proud. He thinks that the money he has grants him power over everyone but instead he is dominated by Shamela without him even noticing it. He symbolizes those who are controlled by desires and who let their feelings cloud their judgment. Because of this, he has to suffer the consequences of his actions and the fact that he is seen as a man controlled by a woman.


The idea of manipulation appears as a recurrent motif in the novel. It is clear from the beginning that everyone tries to get something from another person and in order to do this they manipulate one another. There is no limit regarding the lengths to which some characters are willing to go in order to get what they want and it is clear that the world that the characters inhabit is a cruel world where everyone has to look out for themselves.


Every character has a mask and a personality hidden behind it. None of the characters presented in the novel are what they seem at first glance and this becomes a recurrent motif in the novel. The writer through the narrative methods used reveals the truth to the reader and tears down the masks worn by the characters.

Allegory for human hypocrisy

The whole novel is an allegory regarding the hypocrisy exhibited during the time when the writer lived. In Pamela, there is no discrepancy between what a person pretends to be and who she or he really is. Things are the complete opposite in Shamela where the reader is presented with a more credible world than the one in Pamela. Shamela pretends to be pious and virtuous in front of the others but she is true to herself about her intentions and desires. Through the characters in the book, the narrator presents a real world, a selfish world, where virtue is precious only if it benefits someone and where everyone cares only about themselves.

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