Richardson's novel traces an uncommon love story between a master and a servant. Pamela is a beautiful teenaged maidservant, and when her mistress dies, she faces an unusual proposition. The son of the mistress, known as Mr. B, tries to seduce Pamela, but Pamela resists strongly. After kidnapping her, Mr. B again tries to convince Pamela to be with him. She again refuses. When Mr. B decides to eventually marry Pamela, she is faced with the new challenge of resisting the disapproval they receive as a mismatched couple.
Pamela embraces the following advice early in her life:
Be sure don't let people's telling you, you are pretty, puff you up; for you did not make yourself, and so can have no praise due to you for it. It is virtue and goodness only, that make the true beauty.
Power, position, servitude, and social acceptance are examined in this novel. Mr. B's presumption that he can take Pamela any time, in any way he pleases, is resisted.
O how can wicked men seem so steady and untouched with such black hearts, while poor innocents stand like malefactors before them!
Well, but, Mrs. Jervis, let me ask you, if he can stoop to like such a poor girl as me, as perhaps he may, (for I have read of things almost as strange, from great men to poor damsels,) What can it be for?—He may condescend, perhaps, to think I may be good enough for his harlot; and those things don't disgrace men that ruin poor women, as the world goes.
Despite the many advances of Mr. B and discrimination from others, Pamela does not give in to pressure.
And pray, said I, walking on, how came I to be his Property? What Right has he in me, but such as a Thief may...
(The entire section is 464 words.)