Henry Fielding



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HENRY FIELDING (1707-1754)
The comic epic novel Fielding created the “comic epic novel”, while Richardson and Defoe tried to hide the fictional nature of their work under the mask of “letters” and “memoirs” respectively.
Fielding was the first English novelist to come up to the novel form methodically. He thought up “laws” for what he thought a “comic epic poem in prose” was: he said that a comic romance is a comic epic poem in prose. The last one is different from comedy, as the tragedy from the serious epic. It contains more incidents and characters. In its fable and action it’s different from the serious romance. It introduces persons of inferior rank. With him the novel becomes epic,even if amusing. The characters belong to different social classes and their psychology are like to the ones of epic heroes,but they are travelling to London and not to a mysterious place. Their actions are ridiculous.
The plot of Henry’s novels has a series of stories with an organic unity. This is an advance compared to the rudimentary sequences that we can find in Defoe’s or in Richardson’s.
Characters They must behave coherently from beginning to end. He says in Tom Jones: “ I describe men not manners;not an individual but a species...”. We can see a greater variety of characters than in Richardon: they belong to all social classes and this social panorama constitutes a real picture of the society of the 18th century.
Moral aim, Themes condemns the hypocrisy,the snobberies; the rebels against the puritan code (of the upper classes that considered synonymous with virtue). He’s indulgent with regard to the sins of sex; He believes that there are neither wholly good nor wholly bad characters and that man is naturally inclined to goodness.
Narrative technique uses the third-person narrative technique; narrator→ obtrusive and omniscient : he intervenes with warnings,ironic comments and moral reflections about what happens. Tone→conversational and ironic; the humour and the sharp irony save his works from excessive sentimentality.

TOM JONES (1749) Fielding
Plot Fielding gives a picture of the society of his age. The protagonist is generous,full of vital energy and impulses. He is a foundling and has been adopted by Mr. Allworthy (a virtuous gentleman). Tom grows up with Allworthy’s nephew,Blifil. Blifil is to become the antagonist of Tom.
Tom is in love with Sophia, the daughter of Squire Westerns. She is in love with Tom, but her father wants to secure the marriage of Sophia with Blifil. Blifil ruins the reputation of Tom,because he’s jealous. Tom has to go away and he leaves for London. He passes adventures and temptations. Sophia,at the same time,runs away. All the characters end up in London. Tom discovers the secret of his birth and of Blifil’s villainy. He obtains the favour of Mr Allworthy and marries Sophia. The plot is ingenuous. The story is told in a lively and entertaining way. It echoes the manners of the Restoration comedies,never giving the impression of tragedy(not even when Tom is in prison).
Tom Jones belongs to the picaresque tradition (like most of the 18th century novels) and its structure reveals the ability of the writer in handling plot.
A moral essay This novel can be considered a moral essay,since the narrative and descriptive parts are fewer than the ideological ones. The first chapters of every book contain the narrator’s personal comments about the natural goodness of men and his statements. Tom = what is generous and spontaneous in the human race; evidence of Fielding’s positive beliefs in men.
Autobiographical form typical of Defoe and Richardon. He chooses the third person. He introduces the new character of the story teller,who is obtrusive and omniscient(“I believe...we shall”). Fielding intervenes and tells the readers how to read. On everybody he expresses his opinions and he anticipates events. He interrupt the narration of the central plot to pass to another episode,so he creates suspance. “Like the historians do”, he chooses what to tell and what not. Every detail is very important to the whole story.
Characters Rich gallery of social types; the minor figures express the irony of Fielding regarding the faults of men(they are shown as impostors,ignorant). Fielding thought that money is the only real interest of women. The characters are introduced directly through lively dialogue: a dynamic view of the relations existing between the different characters.
Style He is not interested in emotional and sentimental situations, he is concerned with the epic form and content: a great number of scenes with groups battling against each other, represented in a realistic way. Style: witty,direct,ironic,linear,concrete.
Much of his humour comes from his ability to handle the stock situations of stage comedy. His humour takes many forms: of action,the verbal humour and the humour of a character.
The Meeting between Jones and Sophia → genre: Fiction. Map: Love, Women.
A Robbery → genre: Fiction. Map: the journey.



  1. Lulli

    Riassunto e traduzione de "A Robbery" di Tom jones!!!!!