Indirect ethical communication in the novel : Henry Fielding's Tom Jones


Berland, Kevin Joel Holland




Operating on the Platonic assumption that man possesses truth within, Fielding developed as aesthetic which allows the ethically committed author to act upon his reader to bring this ethical potential into his consciousness. Fielding shifts the focal point of reader attention away from the level of character and action to the narrator and the process of writing. He replaces empathetic involvement with awareness of response by employing deliberate artificialities of form. These (like Brecht's "Alienation-effects") interrupt the reader's involved attention, allowing him to see through the action to larger patterns of reality behind. Fielding's avowed enemy is affectation, which he ridicules wherever it's found, attempting to remove the mists of false knowledge from his reader's eyes. He attacks affectation in the reader, encouraging him to make stock responses to problems, then demonstrating the ethical inadequacy of such responses. Fielding's comic aesthetic encourages the reader to make an inward turning, to recognize his natural potnetial for good within.


Fielding, Henry, 1707-1754. History Of Tom Jones
Fielding, Henry, 1707-1754 -- Criticism and interpretation




Carleton University

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