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Indexing Pamela
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Indexing Pamela

2 min read

Of Voyant's list of most frequently occuring words, I found the most interesting to be: said, good, sir, master, and poor. These words, in particular, have a clear implication of social status, highlighting intersections of gender and class. Pamela is a radical text that is inherently about class and economic mobility, but is often reduced to a conflict "between the sexes." Richardson seems to have very clear moral intent with his writing of Pamela, observable even on the title page, which states that the narrative "has its Foundation in TRUTH and NATURE." While Voyant's list of words do hint at the narrative's teachings on morality, I had anticipated more specificity, with the more frequent inclusion of terms such as virtue, pride, honesty, clothing, jewels, riches.

Armstrong's core argument in Desire and Domestic Fiction illustrates the domestic novel as both an agent and a product of widespread cultural changes. Gender and sexuality were represented as entirely removed from social, political, and economic spheres -- thus, Armstrong argues that female narration, perceived as without claim to political legitimacy, allowed for a different and new form of political critique.

Fielding's representations of the original narrative in Shamela critique those who praise Pamela as an educational and informative piece, rather than how he sees it: as a form of entertainment. The Voyant tools provide us with a new perspective on the argument, one rooted in the occupation of quantifiable space in print texts.