3/27 Fielding, Joseph Andrews (books III & IV)
I. Henry Fielding
Henry Fielding, born 22 April 1707, died 8 October
Educated at Eton 1719-1724;
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:
1749 – 10 Feb. History of Tom Jones, a Foundling
1751 – Amelia
was a prolific and popular dramatist of the 1730s; his attacks on the
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?
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
the organization of the novel in terms of the common journey-motif in
literature. How does the trip to
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?
what ways does
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?
Book IV the narrative returns to Lady’s Booby’s country estate and Fielding
reinvigorates the parallels to
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
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?
the ending of the novel:
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
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.
Spilka (1953): "
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
is significant about the response characters make to Parson Adams? How does this reflect on our reading
IV. Parson Adams – Frailties and Joy
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
“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).
to the question of whether or not
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.