ENL 6236 – Eighteenth-Century Novel and Theory                                        Dr. Runge

 

3/27                 Fielding, Joseph Andrews (books III & IV)

 

 

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I.                    Henry Fielding

 

Background:

 

Henry Fielding, born 22 April 1707, died 8 October 1754 (Lisbon)

 

Educated at Eton 1719-1724; University of Leyden 1728-29; Middle Temple, London 1737-40

 

Married 1734 – Charlotte Craddock (model for Sophia); d. 1744

Married 1747 – Mary Daniel (former cook-maid)

 

Between 1728 and 1737 published and produced 21 plays, mostly comedy and farce with political satire

1741 – Shamela

1742 – Joseph Andrews

1743 – Miscellanies

1747 – Ovid’s Art of Love Paraphrased, and adapted to the Present Time

1748 – 6 Dec: Richardson’s Clarissa final volumes published

1749 – 10 Feb. History of Tom Jones, a Foundling

1751 – Amelia

 

Fielding was a prolific and popular dramatist of the 1730s; his attacks on the government of Walpole are thought to have prompted Parliament to pass the Theatrical Licensing Act of 1737.  What evidence of this experience as a playwright can you find in his novel?  How might this compare with Richardson’s background in printing as a preparation for Pamela?

 

II.                 Joseph Andrews Books III and IV

 

Analyze Fielding’s chapter “In Praise of Biography” as literary criticism.  What ideas does it convey that are pertinent to our study of the history of the novel?  To what extent does it serve as an appropriate part of a novel?  Why is it there?  How does it function?  To what extent is it satisfactory?  Note there is no introductory chapter to Book IV.  Why?

 

Discuss the organization of the novel in terms of Providential Design.  How is the narrator like God?  What are the implications of such a design?  How does it compare with earlier uses of Providence, such as in Penelope Aubin’s Count Vinevil?

 

Discuss the organization of the novel in terms of the common journey-motif in literature.  How does the trip to London function?  What does the travel through the countryside signify?  What happens to Joseph and Parson Adams in the process?

 

Adams and Joseph play an allegorical role (as well as novelistic) related to their Biblical namesakes:

Martin Battestin writes: “the careers of Joseph Andrews and Abraham Adams comprise brilliantly comic analogues to those of their Scriptural namesakes, likewise patterns, according to the divines, of the good man’s basic virtues.  Joseph chastely resists the charms of his mistress and is at last reunited with the father from whom he had been kidnapped as a child.  Brandishing his crabstick like a pilgrim’ staff, Adams, the good patriarch and priest, travels homeward through strange and idolatrous countries, and is ‘tempted’ by the near drowning of his son.  The use of biblical analogues here, like the adaptation of the Aeneid in Amelia, is surprisingly subtle, contributing to the mock-heroic character of the novel while at the same time reminding readers of the function of Joseph and Adams as exemplars” (428).

 

Mock-heroic – [common neo-classical style; taken from the classics but adapted to eighteenth-century culture]  Generally it is a mode where the exalted subjects are treated in low or common language and the reverse, low or common subjects are treated in exalted language.   Often the exalted language or forms are taken from classical precedent.   Where does Fielding use the mock-heroic in this novel?  To what effect?  How does this mode – or specific examples – qualify the role of the author? 

 

Recall that Warner argues that Fielding avoids the construction of exemplary characters in his novel, whereas Battestin argues for the exemplariness of Joseph and Adams.  What do you think?  To what extent does Fanny serve as an exemplary character?

 

Interpollated Tales:  Wilson’s story forms the structural and thematic center of the novel.  Why is it significant? 

In what ways does Wilson’s story parallel Leonora’s story?  To what extent might you characterize it as a tale of “amorous intrigue”?  How is it different?  Does the gender of the protagonist (Wilson) change the nature of the story?

 

How does Joseph’s role/character change after this episode?  What is the significance?

 

Evaluate the importance of the Roasting Squire.  What happens to Fanny (and in relation, to Joseph) in the ensuing chapters?

 

In Book IV the narrative returns to Lady’s Booby’s country estate and Fielding reinvigorates the parallels to Richardson’s Pamela.  How does the last book of the novel underscore the themes of charity versus chastity?  What roles do the characters of Richardson’s novel play?  How do they differ from Richardson’s representation?  To what effect?

 

How does Pamela’s rise in status affect Joseph?  How does Joseph respond to the “temptations” offered by Mr. Booby? Note the parallels with Pamela, as well as the echo to Wilson’s story: “my pleasure is centred in Fanny.”

 

Evaluate the Beau Didapper/Slipslop/Adams carnivalesque case of mistaken identity – the comic centerpiece of the novel.  To what extent is this scene related to stage comedy?  What fictional precedents can you cite? 

 

Evaluate the ending of the novel: Providence brings all conflicts to a resolution as if by design.  To what extent does this compromise realism and is that a problem?

 

The ending also allows for marriage between “equals” of sense.  What are the implications of the marriage in terms of the organization of the novel?  How does it reflect on Richardson’s conclusion?  In what ways does this marriage illustrate McKeon’s theory of the conservative critique and the narrative problems associated with it?

 

Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the following:

Fielding’s representation of women

The satire on legal problems

The providential conclusion

Representation of sexuality as violence

Consistency in construction of the narrator

 

 

III.               Parson Adams and Fielding’s theory of comedy

 

[Quotations from Norton Critical Edition of the novel, edited by Homer Goldberg]

 

How has Parson Adams been received through the centuries and how central is he to the understanding of the novel, of Fielding’s art?  What are the main areas of criticism?  What do these critiques suggest about the literary values of each age/reader?

 

William Shenstone (1749):  of Parson Adams: "That was an original, I think; unattempted before & yet so natural that most people seem'd to know the man" (396)

 

From The Student (1750): "I have heard the character of Mr. Adams the clergyman, in an ingenious work of Fielding's highly condemn'd, because, it seems, he knew not the world; and I am sorry to find that many of our divines are of the same opinion, and for the same reason. – But how much more laudable and agreeable figure does he now make, than he wou'd have done, had he been represented as ready to impose, as he is now liable to be impos'd upon?" (398).

 

From The Cry by Sara Fielding and Jane Collier (1754):  "Nor less understood is the character of Parson Adams in Joseph Andrews, by those persons, who, fixing their thoughts on the hounds trailing the bacon in his pocket (with some oddnesses in his behaviour, and peculiarities in his dress) think proper to overlook the noble simplicity of his mind, with the other innumerable beauties of his character; which to those who can understand THE WORD TO THE WISE, are placed in the most conspicuous view.

            That the ridiculers of Parson Adams are designed to be the proper objects of ridicule (and not that innocent man himself) is a truth which the author hath in many places set in the most glaring light.  And lest his meaning should be perversely misunderstood, he hath fully displayed his own sentiments on that head, by writing a whole scene, in which such laughers are properly treated, and their characters depicted" (399).  See Book III, chapter 7.

 

Mark Spilka (1953): "Adams' position is somewhat ambiguous with regard to Fielding's formula for the ridiculous in humor.  Like his predecessor, Don Quixote, he cuts a bizarre figure outwardly, but, at the same time, his inner dignity remains unassailable:  as Joseph Andrews tells us, true virtue can never be ridiculed, and we know that Adams, however outlandish, is truly virtuous – so that he stands half within Fielding's theory of humor and half without.  But this theory is, after all, static and reductive rather than organic.  Through shrewd analysis Fielding has called attention to the affectations, the particular qualities which make men appear in a ridiculous light.  But through his admiration for Cervantes he has unconsciously seized on the principle of the comic figure – the whole man who is at once lovable and ridiculous, whose character must be established through time and incident, in the reader's mind before he becomes 'wholly' laughable.  To put it in different terms, when someone we know and like is involved in a ridiculous action, then the humor of the situation broadens and quickens to include our identification with and sympathy for that person. A sudden or prolonged juxtaposition of his inner dignity with his outer 'awkwardness' produces a state of mixed emotions in us – love, sympathy, and identification, as well as condescension – and this state is released or resolved, in turn through laughter" (406).

 

Martin C. Battestin (1959): "Of all Fielding's heroes, Parson Adams is the fullest personification of good nature.  It is Adams' embodiment of the essential characteristics of this concept that permits Fielding to declare in his Preface – despite his hero's apparent likeness to Don Quixote – that 'the Character of Adams is not to be found in any Book now extant.'  The theory of good nature formulated in The Champion provided an ethical, rather than literary, basis for Adams' distinctive traits: his compassion, charity, and above all, his simplicity.  Even his gravity of countenance (I, 14) may be traced to the empathic disposition of the good-natured man. . . .  Along with his moral idealism learned from the classics and primitive Christianity, however, the dominant feature of Adams' good nature, his simplicity, is consciously manipulated by Fielding to serve the ethical purpose of his satire" (436).  I.e. it exposes the hypocrisy or vanity of others as well as his own affectations.

 

What is significant about the response characters make to Parson Adams?  How does this reflect on our reading enjoyment in Adams?  How does he serve the ends of “entertainment” as theorized by Warner?

 

How does Adams fit into Fielding’s theory of comedy?  What does this indicate about the theory?  About Fielding’s art?

 

Why is Adams essential to the novel?

 

IV.       Parson Adams – Frailties and Joy

 

“My second remark was, that Vanity is the worst of Passions, and more apt to contaminate the Mind than any other: For as Selfishness is much more general than we please to allow it, so it is natural to hate and envy those who stand between us and the Good we desire.  Now in lust and ambition these are few; and even in Avarice we find many who are no Obstacles to our Pursuits; but the vain Man seeks Pre-eminence; and every thing which is excellent or praise-worthy in another, render him the Mark of his antipathy.  Adams now began to fumble in his Pockets, and soon cried out, “O la! I have it not about me.” – Upon this the gentleman asking him what he was searching for, he said he searched after a Sermon, which he thought was his master-piece, against vanity. ”Fie upon it, fie upon it, cries he “why do I ever leave that Sermon out of my Pocket? I wish it was within five Miles, I would willingly fetch it, to read it to you.” The gentleman answered, that there was no need, for he was cured of the Passion.  “And for that very Reason,” quoth Adams, “I would read it, for I am confident you would admire it….” (III.3 page 167).

 

“And then he ran on as before, named all the Masters who are recorded in old Books, and preferred himself to them all.  Indeed if this good Man had an Enthusiasm, or what the Vulgar call a Blind-side, it was this:  He thought a Schoolmaster the greatest Character in the world, and himself the greatest of all schoolmasters, neither of which Points he would have given up to Alexander the Great at the Head of his Army” (III.5 page 181).

 

“Indeed whatever Horse they had provided for Joseph, they would have prevailed with him to mount none, no not even to ride before his beloved Fanny, till the Parson was supplied; much less would he deprive his Friend of the Beast which belonged to him and which he knew the moment he saw, tho’ Adams did not: however, when he was reminded of the Affair and told that they had brought the Horse with them which he left behind, he answered – Bless me! And so I did.” (III.12 page 213).

 

“`Now believe me, no Christian ought so to set his Heart on any Person or Thing in this World, but that whenever it shall be required or taken from him in any manner by Divine Providence he may be able, peaceably, quietly, and contentedly to resign it.’ At which Words one came hastily in and acquainted Mr. Adams that his youngest Son was drowned.  He stood silent a moment, and soon began to stamp about the Room and deplore his Loss with the bitterest Agony” (IV. 8 page 242).

 

“Poor Adams had before discovered the Countenance of his Bedfellow, and now first recollecting he was naked, he was no less confounded than Lady Booby herself, and immediately whipt under the Bed-clothes, whence the chaste Slipslop endeavoured in vain to shut him out.  Then putting forth his Head on which, by way of Ornament, he wore a Flannel Nightcap, he protested his Innocence, and asked ten thousand pardons of Mrs. Slipslop for the Blows he had struck her, vowing he had mistaken her for a Witch” (IV. 14 page 260).

 

After Wilson has discovered Joseph to be his lost son: “the Parson followed him capering, rubbing his Hands, and crying out, Hic est quem quaeris, inventus est [Here is whom you seek; he is found]” (IV.15, page 265).

 

Return to the question of whether or not Adams functions as an exemplar.  If so, what kind?  What are the limitations of Battestin’s reading?  Since Warner argues against Battestin, how does his argument illustrate the limitations of Warner’s argument?

 

In concluding our discussion of Fielding’s work, return to last week’s questions on theoretical issues and interpretations from Watt, McKeon, Hunter and Warner.  How does Fielding’s first novel fare?

 

Offer a balanced evaluation and comparison of the novelistic techniques of Richardson and Fielding.