Anti-Pamela: Like parent, like child

In Eliza Haywood’s Anti-Pamela, I couldn’t help but notice the likeness of qualities in parents and children of the same gender— which made me realize it’s completely in tune with the idea of Samuel Richardson’s Pamela.

Pamela’s honor was her top priority and saw her poverty as a “Witness of her honesty” and any economic gains from Mr. B— the “Price of [her] shame” (Richardson 79). She respected her parents, thinking as they do, and would rather live with them in poor conditions than bring shame to her name. This idea contradicts the character of Syrena, whose mother instilled in her an inclination to find a wealthy husband and after some point—her mother did not mind her becoming a mistress. Haywood describes Haywood’s birth as one that occurred “in very mean Circumstances.” Therefore, she was born out of marriage— and was “left entirely to the Care of a Parent, who had been a Woman of Intrigue in her Youth, was far from repenting what she had done; and one of the most subtil Mistresses in the Art of Decoying that ever was; the Girl was not out of her Bib and Apron, before she instructed her in Lessons, which she had the wicked Satisfaction to find, her Pupil knew not only how to observe, but also to improve” (Haywood 2). Syrene even surpasses the lessons by deceiving her mother at her own game and ultimately falling pregnant and ill due to it.

It seems that Haywood is presenting the influence parents have on their children. Syrena took over her mother’s role of decoying men and like her, does not repent, but rather continues manipulating to gain financially. As seen in her relationship with Vardine, her mother asked her to stop contacting him, but she pursued him “for expensive gifts”— and then asked for his money after losing her virginity to him and trusting him. But, he lied to her and she fell pregnant. Even after that experience that resulted in her illness, she was unafraid to search for another husband. Her obsession did not falter just as her mother’s didn’t. However, what’s so interesting about this story is that in the second part, we can see that Sir Thomas and his son Mr. L are also one and the same. In the Lady’s chamber, even though, Mr. L witnessed his own father attempting to rape Syrena, he tried to do the same, without clearly resenting his father’s actions or thinking of his mother. Syrena even admitted that she fears he has the same intentions as his father.

Finally, I did not think that Syrena would allow her act with Vardine to happen again with Mr. L due to her continuous fear of rape and was surprised when she allowed him to “gain the utmost of his Desires” and after that accuse him of rape to marry her (35). But, it was clearly leading to such a point when her mother kept telling her to pursue mostly Mr. L without totally disregarding Sir Thomas to see who could benefit her more. Haywood then ends it in mockery because Syrena, her mother, Sir Thomas and his son were all caught guilty and for the same reason— lack of honor.

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