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Exercise 3: Indexing Pamela - Frequency of Words
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Exercise 3: Indexing Pamela - Frequency of Words

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While working with Voyant, I was struck by the novel’s little mentioning of Pamela’s value of her virtue, as well as the factors of religion and honor associated with that mindset. From the title page, Pamela; or Virtue Rewarded, Richardson demonstrates to the reader the possibilities and benefits of maintaining virtue, despite environmental pressures. However, in looking at the number of times the word “virtue” was used in Pamela, I found that the word was only heavily used in the first segment, much of which is counted due to its use in the title and our use of a clean Text document. From there, the use of the term significantly decreases, only returning to more use in the final segment of the novel. Also, some of the support and reasoning behind her prioritization of her virtue, such as religion and honor, are not mentioned as much. Looking at the ranking system, God, Pray, Honour, Honesty, Virtue, and Duty are ranked 32, 38, 44, 118, 166, and 210 respectively. Meanwhile, terms that reduce her strength and autonomy as a character, such as her use of the word master more than even her name, can imply dominance over the character. Thus, Richardson risks reducing the assertion and impact of such morals on the reader.
In looking at the word usage in other novels, I found that one possible method the spoof authors intended to reduce the dynamic of Pamela was by subtly not acknowledging her ability to change social status and the importance of her virtue. From Pamela to Pamela II, the use of the word lady significantly increases, emphasizing Pamela’s success to rise above her social status thanks to her resilience towards maintaining her virtue. The novels Sir Charles Grandison and Joseph Andrews use the term more than Shamela and Anti-Pamela. In addition, those parody novels mention virtue less than Charles Grandison. Thus, we can the authors subtly attempting to reduce the impact of Pamela by not acknowledging her ability to overcome societal and class norms. However, in both cases, the question remains whether the readers were able to pick up on the subtle used of words like lady and virtue by the authors to get their points about Pamela across.