Study Guide

Pamela Pride

By Samuel Richardson


Everyone has something to be proud of. Mr. B is proud that his family name stretches back hundreds of years; Pamela is proud that she's a virgin; Shmoop is proud that we actually made it all the way through this book. (Go us.) But these are different types of pride. In Mr. B's hands, it's a sin that clouds his judgment to the point that he's more concerned with his good name than acting in a moral and humane way. In Pamela's mind, pride is her only defense against sexual assault: she doesn't have a name to be proud of, but she does have a soul.

Questions About Pride

  1. What do you think of Pamela's assumption that certain kinds of pride are better than others?
  2. At the end of the novel, how far has Mr. B come in shaking off the kind of pride that made him a villain early on?
  3. What evidence do we have that Pamela's story or example has changed attitudes toward poverty or the poor among Mr. B and his friends?
  4. Ultimately, do you buy Pamela's claims that she doesn't think highly of herself? Why or why not?

Chew on This

Despite claims of being humble and attempts at self-deprecation, Pamela's narrative is entirely self-congratulatory. (We hope she didn't strain her shoulder patting herself on the back.)

The aristocrats' attitude toward poverty and the poor don't shift throughout the course of the novel. In order for Pamela and her values to be accepted, she has to bear all the outer markers of class pride, even if inwardly she is pious and humble.