Collusive Resistance and Complicit Virtue: Richardson's <i>Pamela</i> and <i>Clarissa</i>

Toni Bowers

in Force or Fraud

Published in print January 2011 | ISBN: 9780199592135
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191725340 | DOI:
Collusive Resistance and Complicit Virtue: Richardson's Pamela and Clarissa

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This chapter argues that Samuel Richardson used the representational structures he inherited from the seduction fiction of Behn, Manley, and Haywood to articulate tory sensibility in the wake of his own gradual accommodation to the Whig‐leaning government, the fall of Walpole in 1742, and the Battle of Culloden in 1746. Richardson's novels distilled the anxieties of a generation and cast into unmistakable relief the ideological functions of familiar seduction plots and topoi, reframing them for a new age. Pamela (1740‐41) and Clarissa (1747‐48) offered not partisan polemic per se, but seduction stories where besieged heroines variously enact resistance by means of collusion and retain virtue even after capitulation. Pamela struggles to articulate a tory‐oriented version of virtuous resistance to Mr. B's abuses of authority, while Clarissa more insistently dramatizes the problematic position of the governed when legitimate authority abdicates, defining tyranny not as the excessive exercise of rightful authority but as its abdication.

Keywords: Samuel Richardson, Pamela (1740‐41); Samuel Richardson, Clarissa (1747‐48); accommodation; tory sensibility; Culloden; Walpole; abdication; virtuous resistance; tyranny

Chapter.  23888 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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