How does Pamela describe her master?

Pamela does not offer a physical description of her master, Mr. B. Initially, she describes him as "affable" and generous, but he soon makes sexual advances on her, leading Pamela to describe him as "black [souled] and frightful."

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Richardson does not have Pamela provide a physical description of her new master, Mr. B., who takes over the estate after her mother dies. Her focus is on his character or inner self and his behavior. For example, after he generously gives her and Mrs. Jervis, the housekeeper, a good deal of his mother's clothing, all of it silk, she writes to her parents,

I always thought my young master a fine gentleman, as every body says he is: but he gave these good things to us both with such a graciousness, as I thought he looked like an angel.

She also says he is "affable" to her.

Pamela is initially impressed with what she wants to believe is her master's kindness, good humor, and generosity, but she also describes his behavior in ways that might make a less innocent person suspicious. For example, he calls her a pretty "wench" and asks Mrs. Jervis if she standoffish with men. He also takes her aside and privately gives her more of his mother's clothing, including her stockings. This gift is so intimate it embarrasses her.

Her early faith that her master would not "demean" himself with bad intentions toward her are quickly dashed. As she writes to her parents, he soon shows his sexual interest in her. She now describes him as "black and frightful," the word black describing his soul, not his outward appearance. She writes soon after,

he put his arm about me, and kissed me!

So begins a long cat-and-mouse game in which Pamela will describe her master trying to seduce or rape her while she stands up to him in every way she can.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on December 16, 2020
Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial