Henry Fielding

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What is your critique of Fielding's moral standard?

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Fielding’s moral standpoint was clearly communicated in his professional life and in his fiction. In his plays, poetry and novels, Fielding condemned the hypocrisy of the political institutions of the day. His  1730 play, Tom Thumb, was noted for its satirical humor at the expense of political systems and leaders of the day. With the introduction of Robert Walpole’s Theatrical Licensing Act of 1737, Fielding’s dramatic outpourings were severely restricted, with new theatre productions requiring government approval.

Fielding focused on the law as a new profession, and was successful in this field also. Unable to totally reject his literary leanings, Fielding was compelled to write a parody ofRichardson’s ‘Pamela’. Fielding had been appalled at the message of ‘virtue rewarded’ as a young girl is pursued by her lascivious master and ‘rewarded’ by becoming his wife.

Fielding was aware of the duplicity of social standards and the abuses evident in society based on class, gender and social position. Whilst working in public office to serve his fellow man, Fielding was instrumental in the development of the Bow Street Runners, who were the forerunners of the modern police force. His desire to promote the tenets of good citizenship and humanity over false modesty and sexual repression permeated his novels Jonathan Wild, Tom Jones, Joseph Andrews and Amelia, as well as the earlier Shamela.

Fielding lived by the moral codes he exhorted in his fiction. He supported his sister in her literary career and actively worked to promote political and social stability.

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