Robinson Crusoe (Defoe), Pamela (Richardson), Tom Jones (Fielding)



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With the 18th century, there was the beginning of the novel and its sub-genres: the picaresque novel, the epistolary novel, the sentimental novel, the adventure novel. 18th novel is characterized by a modern idea of realism. The story has the appearance of a true and everyday story. The time, the place and the physical descriptions of people and things are clearly indicated. The main causes of the beginning and success of the novel were: the extension of learned people, the proliferation of newspapers, the need of entertainment, the increases number of circulating libraries, the improvement in printing technology. Novels about travels were very common. Some of them derive from Utopian fiction that compare voyages to distant world to the modern actual imperfect world. The epistolary novel is characterized by intensely dramatic letters. The picaresque novel tells the adventures of a young man that manages to survive, with his intelligence and courage. His adventures most of the time takes place on the road and are comic. The sentimental novel is characterized by strong emotion that cause in the reader intense emotions. There are shown good sentiments and tears. An example is Tristram Shandy.

In Robinson Crusoe,is Defoe’s first novel. The story is told by a first-person narrator , that gives an air of authenticity to the story told from a fixed point of view ,and is a fake autobiography. The facts are narrated in the order in which they happen. The narrator is not the same person as the novelist. The realism is very accurate, the places that Robinson visits are greatly described and there are recognisable backgrounds, like the Caribbean island. The story tells about the sea and the dangers of navigation, that were very popular character. Robinson represents the English mercantile class that was beginning to colonize the world, and is the model pioneer. He represents the relation between colonist and native that will characterize the British and European colonialism.
Swift’s Gulliver’s Travel 1726 is a utopian/satirical narrative; on a first level of read it is appear as a travel story, that was a popular genre. There is a first-person narrator and the point of view is fixed. Tells about Gulliver, a ship’s surgeon, that makes a series of voyage into remote lands of the world.

Richardson’s Pamela or Virtue Rewarded is an epistolary novel by Samuel Richardson. Most of the letters are written by the heroine, Pamela (a young servant girl) to her parents. The book became very popular and soon was translated in many European languages. The letters tell the story of Pamela, a young servant that after her mistress’s death, decides to stay and work for Lady B’s son. Very soon Pamela will understand that Mr. B’s real intention is to seduce her. After many verbal and physical assaults Pamela, became prisoner of Mr. B. At the end Mr B. ask her to marry him. Pamela accepts, in this way she accommodate herself to upper-class society and build a successful relationship with her husband. There is a first-person narrator that gives to the story more authenticity, with multiple points of view that show psychological development of the characters. Pamela is practical, passionate, modest with all, but she is intolerant of injustice both to herself and to her fellow-servants. There are recognisable backgrounds like Lincolnshire country and detailed descriptions of interiors. Pamela illustrates the complex relationships between commoners and aristocrats. The novel also comments on the sexual and social inequality of the position of women.

Fielding’s Tom Jones is a comic story, the history of a foundling, is a very long novel. The story begins when mr Allworthy discovers a baby boy and decides to adopt him giving it the name Tom Jones. Mr Allworthy’s sister, Bridget, marries Capitain Blifil, and they have son, Master Blifil, who is brought up with Tom. The two boys are educated by tutors, Thwackum and Square. He becomes conscious that he is falling in love with Squire Western’s daughter, Sophia, but fights against the attraction because he knows that the squire wants his daughter to marry Master Blifil. Tom is sent away by Mr Allworthy after Blifil manages to persuade the kindly man that Tom has a bad character. Tom leaves very sadly. The rest of the story is on the road, with Sophia. With a final unexpected change, at the end were found out that Tom is Allworthy’s nephew, so now is able to marry Sophia. # Sometimes there isn’t a chronological sequence of events. The narrator is omniscient. There are recognisable backgrounds, like the country roads of England; the neoclassical villas present the social setting of the story. This novel can be considered a moral composition, 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 is generous and spontaneous, that wants to evidence the positive values in the humans. . Fielding chooses the third person. He introduces the new character of the storyteller, 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 interrupts the narration of the central plot to pass to another episode, so he creates suspense. “Like the historians do”. Every detail is very important to the whole story. There are represented all the aspects of modern English life and Christian virtues, courage, generosity. The style is direct, ironic, linear ,concrete. His works appertains at the “comic epic poem in prose”

Richardson comes from a lower middle-class family. His epistolary novel’s combine the style of the drama and the style of the novel. He reflects in his novels the rise of power of the new mercantile Protestant class. He presages the issue of Gothic novels and Romanticism.

Fielding came from an aristocratic family, was educated at Eton school. He began to write for the theatre, and became a famous author of satires against the Whig government. At the end became one of the best humane judges. He was against the superficial morality of pamela, so he wrote Shamela and Joseph Andrews (picaresque, comic story), two parody of Pamela. In the last years, when he moved to Lisbon, wrote “Journal of a Voyage to Lisbon”.