Dr. Ralph Wahlstrom, Chair and Professor of English
Date of Award
Dr. Jennifer Ryan-Bryant, Professor of English
Dr. Lisa Berglund, Professor of English
Dr. Mark Fulk, Associate Professor of English
I plan to analyze the effects of a patriarchal courtship system on female mentalities during the English eighteenth-century. Samuel Richardson's first two novels, Pamela; or, Virtue Rewarded (1740) and Clarissa, or, the History of a Young Lady (1747-48), will be used toward this end based on their epistolary format. The usage of these letters and journals will be pivotal to the evidence based on the characters creating a written nexus of their minds and bodies through their writing. I plan to lay out the ways in which the reader can emotionally feel and understand both Pamela and Clarissa's breakdown in mentality through their linkage of letters to their respective selves and feelings. It is this embodiment that showcases a networking of their minds and bodies for their letter receivers to experience. Letter writing was considered a type of metaphorical sanctuary that the writer could reside in and display their true self and intents for others without being physically present. It is through the mind that they can show their thoughts and it is through the letter envisaging the body that encases this privacy for only the letter receiver to look at. Through these feelings, the reader can see and experience the mental breakdown of both characters, whether it is through their conformity to patriarchy, Pamela, or their disavowal and eventual death from it, Clarissa.
LaPorta, Peter J., "The Psychological Effects of Patriarchy and Courtship: Eighteenth Century Women’s Mentalities in Pamela and Clarissa" (2020). English Theses. 30.