Chrianna: The Novel

Due to the unfortunate fact that my group (Sammy, Daniel, and I) had run out of time because our debate was so heated, my post will be a continuation of the Gender keyword ideas and arguments brought up in class. Thank you to Eliza A. in putting it so clearly as a “Chris Brown/Rhianna” relationship, when referring to Mr. B and Pamela. That was awesome and very true to some extent. Now, with this said, the class began to ERUPT and started a very long and interesting discussion as to whether this comparison was true and whether or not Pamela should be with this type of person. This argument then spawned the question of what Pamela’s actual intentions of marrying Mr. B may be (great rhyme – poetry with Professor Harris). I will now explore the further implications observed through our extensive debate, and try to cover, to the best of my ability, both sides of the discussion.

I myself come to find Pamela very annoying, and many times, she pisses me off. This is because of the clear Chris Brown v. Rhianna case (which will now be referred to as Chrianna from this moment on). How could someone who has been treated like that by their master be that idiotic to forgive them and marry them? Sexual assault is something so serious and so malicious, that it blows my mind how Pamela could end up marrying Mr. B after all he had put her through. Men are pigs. But seriously, to put it into clearer and more current terms, would you let a friend who has been constantly sexually harassed or assaulted by the opposite sex fall directly into the arms of that monster? To see Pamela pull a Chrianna, if you will, is utterly disgusting to me. The cop-out of saying that Mr. B has matured and has gained her respect, and her virtue is still in tact – blah blah blah – bores me. It just doesn’t cut it for me. So with this said, do the members of my favorite class agree with these ideas, or disagree (I will play devil’s advocate with this side in my next paragraph, but my heart remains with these ideas…for Chrianna’s sake).

For those of you who do agree with the previous statement, there were also definite points brought up in class to argue the idea that it was okay that Pamela had married Mr. B after all he had put her though. For one, to touch on the “class” aspect a little bit, she belongs to a lower class than Mr. B. Being in her shoes, it isn’t such an easy lifestyle to live. A girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do. In this case, she did. Pamela did what she needed to do in the sense that she was ensuring safety economically when she married Mr. B. She wanted a better lifestyle, and as Richarson portrays, her current lower class lifestyle is almost inescapable by doing it on her own. In order to obtain the type of lifestyle she dreamed of, she married Mr. B. Some would argue that this still isn’t good enough because there still is somewhat mental angst due to what she went through, but for others, the time period Pamela was in called for marrying him. Another argument for Pamela getting married is that maybe Mr. B had actually changed. To be fair, he did begin to show Pamela some serious respect after all the sexual assaults. Is that enough? Maybe so, but that my friends, is up for you to decide. Do you really feel that Mr. B has changed, and if not, does economic stability really overshadow mental stability? I would sincerely love to hear your thought on this, so please comment. Please. This brings us to further implications that were brought up by my group and I.

Some further questions that were brought up with our group went along the lines that with this discussion of Chrianna. With the fact that some say that this guy Mr. B is in fact a monster, and others say she had to do it for economic stability, what does this say about Pamela. To add to these ideas even further, Rosenthal states:

“Women indeed made up a considerable portion of the proto-industrial labor force, but usually they did so in the context of a network of family relationships and were not self-supporting. Given their low wages, women workers lacking strong kinship networks not uncommonly turned to prostitution anyway as a supplement to their incomes, rather than as an alternative to legitimate employment” (252).

With this said, what do you think of Pamela? Is she a prostitute to some extent? Is she a gold digger? Obviously, those are two extreme questions that were meant to make you chuckle a little. But, was her intention the entire time to secure herself financially, and if so, is this your definition of “rags to riches” that we discussed in class on Monday? What does that make you think of Pamela? Of Mr. B? All these questions are for you to comment on, and I will try my best to observe, comment, and repeat.

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4 thoughts on “Chrianna: The Novel

  1. In response to your question, I think it is hard to characterize Pamela either as a prostitute or a gold digger. Indeed, there can be a question of whether her implicit sexual and economic awareness implicates her as a manipulator within the text, but I am not convinced we as readers have the authority to place Pamela in one category or the other. In terms of archetypes, I feel as though their is an intrinsic self-awareness that is built into the identity of a prostitute or a gold digger. Because even though, these identities are nested in the behavioral I think there must also be a matching mind set where money and transactions take the forefront of one’s interpersonal relationships. And, in Pamela, despite her awareness of the system in place and its connection to her sexuality, it seems that Pamela places herself outside of this system of transactions and self-identifies in a kind of moral hierarchy rather than the socioeconomic one. Her body may be being commoditized by those around her, but it seems to me Pamela sees her body as more of a vessel of her sensibility and moral code rather than one of economic value. And, although Pamela’s section must inevitably exist within this larger capitalistic patriarchy, I feel as though it would be impossible to condemn Pamela as a sexual or economic manipulator but rather think about the way the system has made this outcome almost inevitable.

  2. I have to say that I share your suspicions that Mr. B has actually changed. Even after all the interactions, Mr. B’s “transformation” is a very rapid and uneasy one. For Richardson’s sake, I think he intended Mr. B be a Pamela convert who did actually change due to Pamela’s praised morality and virtue. However from our standpoint, it’s nearly impossible to disregard Mr. B’s violent and moody past. He completely manipulated Pamela’s emotions, nearly raped her, and tried multiple times to bribe her with financial promises. After all of that, it’s hard to look at Mr. B with a smile and think, “Wow, what a great guy! He really changed after all.” Besides, the fact that he had such a “scandalous” past makes me wonder what kind of future Pamela actually holds. Or maybe Pamela really did win him over with her morality and virtue. But I agree that to our contemporary mindsets, it’s an unrealistic change in character.

    It’s also interesting to ponder whether Pamela is in some ways, a prostitute in that sense. However, I think I agree with the prior comment that Pamela is kind of in her own category. In a sense, she does commodify her body, as Mr. B’s financial stability appeals to her and her semi-desperate situation. However, she technically maintains her virtue and strict religious believes about sex, which separates her from a prostitute. However I agree that in many ways, she is a “gold digger.” Her initial appeal to Mr. B, when she writes of his proposal to home, reveals her relief that he could provide financially not only for herself, but also for her family. In this way, maybe his economic stability does overshadow his mental stability. I think Richardson intended for Pamela to be attracted to Mr. B’s sweet, kind, non-rapist heart that eventually revealed itself. But like you say, this transformation is really hard to grasp.

  3. I am glad the Chrianna conversation is still on the table because I, for one, cannot stop pondering the conversation we had last week. It’s impossible not to wonder how someone could so quickly and easily forgive (and seemingly forget) about the terrible ways in which someone who claims to love her treated her. The Chrianna case is a bit different in the manner that these two are under extreme public scrutiny, while the intricacies of Mr. B’s relationship and actions towards Pamela are kept between the two and Pamela’s close confidantes. I guess I struggle answering this question because of the complexities of Pamela’s relationship with Mr. B, the pieces of it that we as readers do not see (or are not given) because of the epistolary manner of Richardson’s novel. As we have discussed before, it is indeed a possibility that Pamela may (or may not) be overstating the extent of Mr. B’s advances for the sake of saving face in front of her parents.

    Allie states in her comment, “Pamela sees her body as more of a vessel of her sensibility and more code rather than one for economic value.” I completely agree with this statement, she does not fit into the definition of a “gold digger” but rather follows what society as taught her, that when a man of higher status desires her hand in marriage, she better jump at the chance. Seemingly, Pamela is an active victim, if we can say that, of the social system within which she resides, rather than a malicious and cunning girl. In turn, Pamela is not a prostitute – I think that is an unjust leap to take.

  4. I thought the change in Mr. B’s behavior was rapid, especially since Professor Kugler mentioned that Richardson writers an afterword which includes Mr. B experimenting with the idea of polygamy. I am not completely convinced that he has become a Pamela convert, but regardless, it does not factor so much into my outlook of Pamela.
    To define Pamela solely as a gold digger is a bit harsh. There is certain evidence which sustains the argument to employ this unfortunate term, but it does not encompass Pamela. She does note that she would not mind living in such comfortable means as her present situation. Her excitement, shown after her marriage, to even sit with the ladies suggests her delight in being included in this elevated class. She, however, explains to her parents time and again that she would rather be a poor woman in rags than to lose her virtue. She even roughs her hands to experience hard labor.
    Through her letters the reader does know that she is aware of the advantages presented upon her marriage to Mr. B, but this is the result of the time in which she lives. If not, there is no reason Mr. B. would need to have a formal contract written to secure her as his proposed mistress. In addition, I do not think that she solicits herself for the identity of the higher class because in the first letters to her parents, she comments on the grand qualities of Mr. B. She seems to be rather taken by him, and it is not until he makes unwanted advances towards her that her opinion is altered for protection. It is possible that there is some affection beyond her security.

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