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Henry Fielding


Henry Fielding was born in 1707 into an aristocratic family and was educated at Eton.
He started writing comedies in which he mocked the politicians but after the Licensing Act of 1737 which censored his plays he was forced to leave the theatre and he took up a career in law as a magistrate, devoting himself to social reform; he was in contact with criminals and he developed a sense of benevolence and a tolerant attitude.
During those times he continued writing satirical articles for newspapers, and then started writing novels with Shamela Andrews , a parody of Richardson's Pamela, in which sham means fake, indeed she explicitly declares that she is coy, she tells that she's trying to be someone she's not. Another work is about Shamela's brother, Joseph Andrews,whose mistress seduces him, but he doesn't want to climb the social ladder, so he doesn't care about her courtship. Then he wrote The History of the Life of the Late Mr Jonathan Wild the Great and his best known work is Tom Jones , which is the typical picaresque novel, in which a handsome young man who lost his girlfriend and is accused of being a thief must go away, he doesn't know his roots and while travelling he meets many girls and never resists temptation. Fielding's moral aim was to teach people to accept humans as they are, with their faults and weaknesses.
He created the comic epic novel, the characters have psychological qualities similar to those of epic heroes, but they are travelling to London and not to a far off country.
Fielding went one step further because the story is a creation of the artist and not a record of reality. He presented only actions and manners which presented the characters, and not their feelings. His characters behave coherently from the beginning to the end and they are of a wider variety, they belong to all social classes, therefore he managed to give a true picture of the 18th century society.
Fielding condemns hypocrisy and rebels against the Puritan code, he believes that virtue is a matter of innate disposition and not a matter of public demonstration like the Puritan thought, indeed their most important value was respectability. Fielding thought that there are neither wholly good nor wholly bad people and that man is naturally inclined towards goodness.
In his works he employs a third person obtrusive narrator and the tone used is conversational and ironic.
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