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Fielding , Henry
While Defoe and Richardson tried to hide their fictional novels under the guise of memoirs and letters, Fielding’s novels (comic epic) are written in order to never bring the reader under the illusion that what he’s reading is only a work of art. Fielding made his novels epic and mocking: the characters, who belong to all social classes, have some of the psychological traits of ancient epic heroes. The plot consists of a series of episodes with an organic unity. This structure is more innovative than the rudimentary sequences of events found in Defoe and the limited perspective of each story showed by Richardson.
The characters behave coherently from the beginning to the end of the story and they maintain their thoughts and anxieties. It’s different from Richardson’s accurate analysis of few characters; in his novels, Fielding wants to describe a wider variety of characters from all social classes.
Fielding condemns the hypocrisy of the leaders of society; he rebels against the puritan code of upper-class that considers respectability synonymous with virtue. He easily forgives the sins of lust and he’s not so serious about sentimental feelings. He maintains that characters are neither wholly god nor wholly bad, but he thinks mankind is incline to goodness.
Fielding used third person narration: the narrator is obtrusive and omniscient. Even if he intervenes with ironic comments, the stories are very sentimental.
Tom Jones - A moral essay
Tom stands for what is generous and spontaneous in the human race and he’s the evidence of the goodness of mankind according to Fielding. Fielding avoids the autobiographical form used by Defoe and Richardson and chooses the third person. He expresses an opinion on every character.
The characters
All the characters offer a rich gallery of social stereotypes: apart from Allworthy, Tom and Sophia, the remaining figures express Fielding’s irony regarding the faults of mankind. Men of all professions are shown as ignorant, women are treated even worse: they only care for money.
The dominant form is naturally dialogue with which all the characters are introduced and which gives the reader a dynamic view of the relations existing between the characters.
Fielding is not interested in emotional and sentimental situations like Richardson, he shows an epic form of the novel, represented in a realistic way and in a witty, ironic, linear, direct and concrete style. Instead Richardson’s stories are more complicated and sentimental, but more limited with less characters, less actions, less contexts, more focused on the relationship between the two main character such as Mr. B and Pamela.
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