Henry Fielding 1707 - 1754 British writer, playwright and journalist, founder of the English realistic school in literature
born at Sharpham Park, Somerset. • by birth a gentleman, close allied to the aristocracy. His father was a nephew of the 3th Earl of Denbigham, and mother was from a prominent family of lawyers • studied at Eton College (1719-1724), Greek and Roman literature. • the University of Leiden in the Netherlands, enlarging his knowledge of classical literature.
After returning to England, he devoted himself to writing for the stage • Between the years 1729 and 1737 Fielding wrote 25 plays • also became a manager of the Little Theatre in the Haymarket. In 1730 he had four plays produced, among them TOM THUMB, which is his most famous and popular drama.
In 1736 Fielding took over the management of the New Theatre, writing for it among others the satirical comedy PASQUIN - an attack on Robert Walpole, the Prime Minister • Fielding's sharp burlesques satirizing the government gained the attention of the prime minister Sir Robert Walpole and Fielding's career in theater was ended by Theatrical Licensing Act - directed primarily at him.
The Licensing Act or TheatricalLicensing Act of 1737 was a landmark act of censorship of the British stage and one of the most determining factors in the development of Augustan drama. The terms of the Act were that from that point forward, the Lord Chamberlain had the power to approve any play before it was staged. • The Lord Chamberlain is the senior official of the Royal Household. • His role is to oversee the conduct and general business of the Royal • Household and to be a source and focal point for important matters • which have implications for the Household as a whole. His role is non- • executive and the post is part-time.
Major works:Plays • LOVE IN SEVERAL MASQUES, 1728 • THE TRAGEDY OF TRAGEDIES: OR, THE THE LIFE AND DEATH OF TOM THUMB THE GREAT, 1730 • THE COFFEE-HOUSE POLITICIAN, 1730 • THE MODERN HUSBAND, 1732 • DON QUIXOTE IN ENGLAND, 1734 • PASQUIN, 1737
Fiction • THE HISTORICAL REGISTER, 1737 • AN APOLOGY FOR THE LIFE OF MRS. SHAMELA ANDREWS, 1741 • THE HISTORY OF THE ADVENTURES OF JOSEPH ANDREWS, 1742 • THE HISTORY OF MR. JONATHAN WILD THE GREAT, 1743 • A JOURNEY FROM THIS WORLD TO THE NEXT, 1743
THE HISTORY OF TOM JONES, A FOUNDLING, 1749 • AMELIA, 1751 • PROPOSAL FOR MAKING EFFECTIVE PROVISION FOR THE POOR, 1753 • THE JOURNAL OF A VOYAGE TO LISBON, 1755
The History of Tom Jones • The Structure and Theme: • Three structural levels: 1.The movement from one event to • another 2. An epic structure placed within a larger comic structure 3. The level of the novel´s allegorical elements
Themes Virtue and Vice The main theme of Tom Jonesis virtue and vice. The highlighted virtue is prudence, and the featured vices are hypocrisy and vanity. Prudence, one of the time-honored cardinal virtues of Western culture, essentially means thinking ahead, considering the likely consequences of one's actions, and acting accordingly.
provides a different view of virtue and reputation (for Richardson they always go together, for Fielding they rarely go together) • The comic and moral elements serve an important artistic purpose – to comment on society • Fieldingś main attack is on hypocrisy and cold blooded self-interest
The failure to do this is Tom's downfall over and over, until the very end of the story. Although Tom has many virtues—he is kind, good-hearted, generous, brave, loyal, and forgiving—his lack of prudence gives his adversaries opportunities to harm him. .
Narrative style • Intricately designed, but giving the impression of being randomly organized • story of multi-layered and intertwined ironies • The style varies from • - a burlesque to • - a simple conversational style and to • - heroic style
Epic, Picaresque, and Epistolary • Fielding melds elements of several traditional literary forms in Tom Jones. • the novel borrows some elements of epic poems, such as Homer's Odyssey. In fact, in the novel itself, Fielding, as narrator, calls the book a "prosaicomiepic," meaning a comic epic written in prose. • An epic has a strong protagonist who does heroic deeds and has a broad scope of action; that is, the events take place over a wide range of time and place. Tom Jones fulfills all these requirements of an epic.
Tom Jones incorporates elements of the picaresque novel, which originated in Spain. • A picaresque features a roguish hero (picaro in Spanish) and is episodic and more loosely structured than an epic.
Characterization • Two methods: • Action-the nature of the characters is given through their deeds • Authorial description- emphasizing a particular trait in each character
Some aspects of The History of Tom Jones The literary critics of the early 18th century regarded prose fiction (the novel as well) as an illegitimate form of literature According to Fielding: Fiction = a comic epic in prose = provides neo-classical legitimacy to the art form considered low
The novel: - deflates certain kinds of pretentiousness - Communicates the relish of colour and variety of human life - Provides an ironic perception of the underlying „high class duelling“ and „low class brawling“
Fielding is consciously rebelling against the tendency to equate morality with sexual control Fielding´s concept of morality is wider and rests on genuity, warm-heartedness the refusal of hypocrisy
The provision then which we have here made is no other than HUMAN NATURE.—In like manner, the excellence of the mental entertainment consists less in the subject than in the author’s skill in well dressing it up.” In other words, “Tom Jones” is great because it pictures real men and women, and because its craftmanship is marvelous.