British Literature 1616-1780
Dec. 6: Smollett, Humphry Clinker
Smollett, Humphry Clinker, volume II, pp. 112-214
We move on to discuss the middle volume of Smollett's novel, where the crew travels
from London to Scotland, and our plot becomes slightly more interested in Humphrey
Clinker. Please keep up with the reading and be prepared to discuss the following
Reading Notes and Discussion Questions:
1. Volume II
These letters are written from London, Harrogate, Scarborough, Newcastle-on-the-Tyne,
Northumberland, to Edinburgh, Scotland. What does this travel represent in the
What are Matt Bramble's ideals for marriage with respect to Lydia? How do they compare
with other representations of marriage decisions in the literature? (See p. 132).
Is there a relationship between Matt Bramble's health and the affairs of his family
and friends? If so, what is Smollett's point?
Why is Tabitha so anxious "to alter my resolution of living a single life"? What is the
significance of her errors of judgment regarding potential suitors, such as Barton?
How does Smollett's representation of the injustice in criminal law compare with Gay's
depiction in The Beggar's Opera?
Evaluate the contrasts between Dutton and Clinker as servants. What is the significance
of Winifred's attraction to both?
One of Tabitha Bramble's frequent sayings is "Charity begins at huom" (148). What does
she mean by this? What does this suggest about her character? In what sense is Smollett
being ironic when characters announce this?
Taking one example of an episode in the novel, discuss the role of the Burdocks. In
what sense are they an example of affected civility? How do they fail? (Cf. their
behavior to the treatment the Bramble clan recieves in Scotland.)
What is the effect of the many episodes of robbery and violence on the highways of
What is the effect of Smollett's wanton mixture of factual characters, fictional creation,
self-reference and intertextual reference to his other fictions?
What is the effect of having the same events related by multiple characters in separate
letters? Offer an example that might illustrate the difference of class or gender.
How do the travelers react to Scotland? How is it different from England?
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