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Morality in Henry Fielding's Novels Joseph Andrews & Amelia

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Morality in Henry Fielding's Novels Joseph Andrews & Amelia

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  • November 2010
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Introduction
Although Henry Fielding (1707-1754) wrote many literary works I am going to deal mainly with his major novels, Joseph Andrews, \and Amelia. All of these works contain a strong moral message, but the moral message is not entirely consistent, and is presented in various ways. One of Fielding's main concerns was the question of marriage. His ideas on marriage are concisely summed up by All worthy in his sermon on matrimony: I have always thought love the only foundation of happiness in a married state and in my opinion all these marriages which are contracted from other motives are greatly criminal . To deny that beauty is an agreeable object to the eye would be false and foolish But to make this the sole consideration of marriage, to lust after it so violently as to reject and disdain religion, virtue and sense is surely inconsistent either with a wise man or a good Christian. Although this sermon mainly condemns marriage for reasons of lust, Fielding more commonly condemns marriage for reasons of financial gain or social elevation. The way in which Fielding conveys his philosophy of marriage is different in all four works, and the virtuousness of the virtuous is variable. However, the basic message is fairly consistent.

Henry Fielding
He was born on April 22, 1707, at Sharpham Park, Somersetshire, the estate of his maternal grandfather. In 1710 the Fieldings moved to East Stour, Dorsetshire. When Henry was 11, his mother died. A suit for custody was brought by his grandmother against his charming but irresponsible father, Lt. Gen. Edmund Fielding. The settlement placed Henry in his grandmother’s care, although he continued to visit his father in London. Henry was educated at Eton. At 17 he attempted to elope with a young heiress but was frustrated by her guardian. Lady Mary Wortley Montagu, Fielding’s cousin, described him about this time as a high-spirited youth, full of the joy of life, witty and humorous. He was handsome and more than 6...