What are the themes covered in the third letter of Pamela by Samuel Richardson?

The third letter of Pamela explores the themes of temptation and of appearance versus reality. Pamela reassures her worried father that even though her master is giving her gifts, this would never tempt her to abandon her virtue. However, she mistakes appearance for reality when she states that she cannot believe the people around her have bad intentions because they treat her with kindness. She also believes her own kindness will be repaid with kindness.

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Two important themes which come up in letter III in Pamela and will be recurrent throughout the novel are the temptation of riches and flattery and appearance versus reality.

At this point, very early in the novel, Pamela shows herself to be both virtuous and naive. Her mistress has just...

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Two important themes which come up in letter III in Pamela and will be recurrent throughout the novel are the temptation of riches and flattery and appearance versus reality.

At this point, very early in the novel, Pamela shows herself to be both virtuous and naive. Her mistress has just died and her parents have written her, full of fear that the gifts her master has given her and the elevation of her status means he is planning to seduce her and ruin her reputation. In letter III, addressed to her father, Pamela reassures him that she would rather wear rags and live on bread and water than give up her good reputation. She says she cannot be tempted to violate her name for material benefit.

However, she also shows that she can mistake appearance for reality. At this point, she thinks because everyone is treating her with kindness they must have her best interests at heart. She shows her naivete when she writes:

Sure they can't all have designs against me, because they are civil!

As we will find, the appearance of civility is no guarantee of good intentions. The master Pamela trusts at this point will try to seduce her, and much of the novel will involve his stratagems to get her into bed and her attempts to fight him off.

Pamela also expresses the belief to her father that if she is kind to others, they will respond with kindness, another concept that the novel will challenge and explore.

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