Pamela by Samuel Richardson : Summary & Character list

Pamela novel
Pamela by Samuel Richardson : Summary & Character list 3


“Pamela; or, Virtue Rewarded” is an epistolary novel published in 1740. It tells the story of a young maidservant named Pamela Andrews, who faces numerous trials and challenges in her life. The novel is written in the form of letters, primarily written by Pamela herself, to her parents and other characters.

The story begins with Pamela working for a wealthy woman named Lady B. When Lady B passes away, Pamela catches the attention of her son, Mr. B, who starts making unwanted advances towards her. Pamela resists his advances, determined to maintain her virtue and honor. She faces several attempts by Mr. B to seduce her, but she remains steadfast in her refusal.

As the novel progresses, Pamela is eventually abducted by Mr. B and taken to one of his estates. Despite the difficult circumstances, Pamela continues to resist Mr. B’s advances. However, Mr. B eventually realizes the error of his ways and falls in love with Pamela. He proposes marriage to her, and she accepts.

The novel concludes with Pamela marrying Mr. B and being accepted into the upper class of society. The story is often seen as a moral tale, emphasizing the importance of virtue and the triumph of good over evil.

“Pamela; or, Virtue Rewarded” is considered one of the earliest examples of the English novel and played a significant role in shaping the development of the genre. It explores themes of class, gender, and morality, and was highly influential in its time.


Pamela Andrews, a fifteen-year-old servant, is the main character of the story. She worked for Lady B, the head of the house. When Lady B passed away, Mr. B took over and entered into a series of wrongdoings, specifically flirting with or attempting to sexually assault Pamela. Pamela is virtuous and Christian, therefore the idea of Mr. B seeking a forced physical connection out of wedlock is terrifying to her. As a result, Pamela often faints and cuts the interaction off. The story is told through Pamela’s letters and diary entries. At one point, Pamela tries unsuccessfully to escape. After struggling for quite some time to be freed from her contract, she finally returns home. She receives a letter from Mr. B insisting that he has changed and that he wants to marry her; she returns willingly and the two are wed. The latter part of the novel details Pamela trying to navigate the high society of which she is now a part of. She endures many stressors yet seems to come out on top regardless. She charms her husband’s society friends, deals with his infidelity with an almost unheard-of understanding, and even suggests welcoming Mr. B’s daughter from a previous affair into their home. As the subtitle of the novel indicates, Pamela is rewarded for her enduring virtue.

Mr. B

Mr. B is Pamela’s inappropriate and manipulative master. He agrees to keep on his late mother’s servants—an initial act of kindness—then proceeds to repeatedly come onto the fifteen-year-old protagonist. He is wealthy and of a higher class, giving him an attitude of entitlement in most things. Mr. B’s morality is clearly questionable: he schemes to sexually assault and even rape Pamela if she will not consent to being his mistress. He reads her letters and teeters between anger and being “unable” to control his supposed “desire” for her. Even when he finally agrees to send her back to her parents, he writes to her insisting that he has reformed and seeks her hand in marriage. Initially, Mr. B is unsure how the world will respond to his marrying a servant, though he decides to defy the odds anyway. Mr. B undergoes a change in disposition that he credits to Pamela: her virtue and piety have forced him to reflect on his actions and shift his course.

Lady B

Lady B is Pamela’s late employer and Mr. B’s mother. She was kind to Pamela, her lady’s maid, and wanted to ensure she would be taken care of after her death.

Pamela’s Parents

John and Elizabeth Andrews are Pamela’s parents. They are impoverished and need the money that Pamela is earning as a servant. The two proclaim disdain for Mr. B through a series of letters. They insist that, if Mr. B’s actions become too terrible, Pamela ought to return home and forget about the job. Interestingly, when Pamela and Mr. B are wed, John changes his tune and is ecstatic to see his daughter well taken care of.

Mrs. Jervis

Mrs. Jervis is a housekeeper whom Pamela befriends while working for Mr. B. She is a goodhearted person who, however unintentionally, helped Mr. B attempt to sexually harass Pamela. She is fired for raising concerns about Mr. B’s behavior but is rehired once Pamela is wed.

Mr. Williams

Mr. Williams is Mr. B’s chaplain in Lincolnshire. True to his profession, he is an honorable man. He attempts to assist Pamela with her predicament, even exchanging secret letters so the two can communicate. He especially sticks his neck out for Pamela by going against Mr. B’s wishes; he even offers to marry Pamela so that she is saved from Mr. B’s debauchery. Mr. B has Mr. Williams sent to prison briefly for his involvement. This is all a bit fuzzy, considering he has not committed any real crime with his intervention. He is released, however, and back in Mr. B’s good graces. He even performs the marriage ceremony between Pamela and Mr. B

Mrs. Jewkes

Mrs. Jewkes is the horrible and abusive housekeeper of the Lincolnshire estate, who Pamela meets after a coachman takes her to the country estate. She feels especially loyal to Mr. B and sees no problem with assisting him in his predatory conquest. When Mr. B and Pamela are married, Mrs. Jewkes becomes slightly more tolerable—likely because Pamela is now her mistress. 

Lady Davers

Lady Barbara Davers, who is Mr. B’s sister, makes an appearance to hassle Pamela. She is good-natured and kind on the outside, though she treats her servants rather poorly. Initially, she is furious with her brother for marrying “down” and tarnishing their family name. She takes this frustration out on Pamela. After a while, though, she begins to see Pamela’s virtue and goodness and improves her attitude.

Beck Worden 

Beck is Lady Davers’s maid. 


Lady Davers also has a son named Jackey who taunts Pamela and even pulls a sword on her at one point.

Mr. Colbrand 

Mr. Colbrand is an ugly character who helps keep Pamela imprisoned by Mr. B. He and Mrs. Jewkes work together. 

John the Footman

There is a character referred to as John the Footman who works at the Bedfordshire estate and betrays Pamela by giving her letters to Mr. B before sending them. 

Mr. B’s Mistress

Another female character is a countess who Mr. B engages with while Pamela gives birth to their son, Billy.

Sally Godfrey

Sally is one of Mr. B’s former flames. The two have a daughter together. Sally has decided to move to Jamaica and gets married there, posing as a widow.

Miss Goodwin

Mr. B’s daughter is Miss Goodwin. Near the end of the book, Pamela suggests taking in Miss Goodwin and raising her alongside their son, Billy. Pamela thinks very highly of her.


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