Dear Society : Unmasking The Narrative And Ideological Elements Of Joseph Andrews
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Dear Society: Unmasking the Narrative and Ideological Elements of Joseph Andrews
After its publication in 1740, Samuel Richardson’s Pamela became wildly commercially successful and has been described as one of the earliest multi-media events, spawning translations, stage adaptations, merchandise, and literary responses (Turner 71). These literary responses largely imitated Richardson’s style, yet challenged the irreproachable virtue of his protagonist. They served to provide an alternate perspective to Pamela’s tale, typically portraying her as a scheming social climber. Henry Fielding participated in this literary backlash, publishing his own parody Shamela in 1741. However, the next year he wrote Joseph Andrews, which, while inarguably…show more content… Regardless of the ideological differences, both types of literary responses adopted Richardson’s epistolary style, but Henry Fielding’s later response Joseph Andrews employs an omniscient narrator. In contrast to the limited voice of the letter writer, the omniscient point of view allows the reader to hear many voices. Joseph Andrews’ myriad characters expose their true intentions, for with each changing situation, their chosen words benefit themselves. For example, when the beaten and robbed Joseph is brought to Mr. Tow-wouse’s inn, Mrs. Tow-wouse does not wish to give the “vagabond” charity; the surgeon declares there is no hope of Joseph’s living; and the clergyman Barnabas rationalizes he can’t save him. However once Betty reveals the thief stole a gold piece from Joseph, all three characters declare Christian and lawful morals in providing the now “gentleman” with a warm bed and legal representation. Their change reveals that Mrs. Tow-wouse’s true desire is to associate with the higher society, and Barnabus and the surgeon only want to portray their self-purported skills in court (Fielding 29-39). The omniscient narrator lets the readers in on the characters’ secret: their pretense hides their vanity.
This omniscience extends to the narrator himself as he invites the reader to see his own vanity and hypocrisy. When informing the reader about chapter decisions, the narrator claims this is to allow the reader to “repose