review Amelia author Henry Fielding 103

characters Amelia author Henry Fielding

review Amelia author Henry Fielding 103 ¹ More delicately faithful and true are Colonel James and his wife They are both very good sort of people in a way who live in a lax and frivolous age who have plenty of money no particular principle no strong affection for each other and little individual character They might have been Mrs James to some extent More delicately faithful and true are Colonel James and his wife They are both very good sort of people in a way who live in a lax and frivolous age who have plenty of money no particular principle no strong affection for each other and little individual character They might have been Mrs James to some extent is uite estimable and harmless; but even as it is they are not to be wholly ill spoken of Being what they are Fielding has taken them and wi. In Fielding’s earlier novels Joseph Andrews and Tom Jones the story ends happily with our hero and heroine getting married but the reader may well wonder what happened to them after their marriage For all Fielding’s benevolence the world in which he places his characters is an unsafe one There are always plenty of people ready to cheat rob or slander his heroes There are women of easy virtue seeking to seduce our hero and male satyrs ready to rob the heroine of her chastity by seduction or by force The law is ready to be exploited against our heroes and to deprive them of their liberty However somehow the institution of marriage apparently offers them a barrier that magically protects them from the vice of others and the book ends accordinglyThe world of Amelia is a very different one although in a way it is actually the world of Joseph Andrews and Tom Jones viewed from a different perspective This is a far less safe world reflected in the fact that our hero and heroine are already married at the beginning of the book and will continue to face threats to their happiness and security throughout The last Book of Jonathan Wild takes place in a prison a fitting moral setting for the end of a novel about a rascally anti hero In Amelia it is the first three Books of the novel that take place in a prison and this time the hero is there through no fault of his own Indeed we are taken on a tour of the prison and we soon see that people who are locked up are those who do not have the money to buy their way out regardless of innocenceSuddenly the world looks like a far less just place and indeed the prison acts as a metaphor for the society in which Captain Booth and his wife Amelia move around in Most of the time Captain Booth is literally confined within a small area of London that he is unable to leave without being arrested for his debts Indeed he is arrested a couple of times thanks to duplicitous behaviour on the part of othersThe prison lies in people’s minds too trapped by their own vices or by wrong headed philosophies and values For the virtuous the prison is here one of desperate poverty and debt and being at the mercy of those who would take advantage of them Notably when Captain Booth is finally freed from prison in Book Four it is not due to his own virtues or a sudden act of justice but actually due to his vices He has an extramarital affair with Miss Matthews a former acuaintance of his who is in prison after attempting to murder her lover Miss Matthews is able to find acuittal thanks to another possible lover and she agrees to buy the Captain out of prison too The appearance of Amelia puts an end to her hopes of a prolonged affair with the Captain though he will be given much cause to rue his indiscretion throughout the rest of the bookWhile in prison Captain Booth relates the history of his relationship with Amelia After overcoming opposition from her mother they marry However they are disinherited and Booth depends on the charity of the benevolent Dr Harrison to find him a suitable position Unfortunately Harrison is called abroad and Booth soon fritters away his good position and his money leaving the family in debtWhat is notable about Booth’s story is that it is related by an unreliable source Booth is naïve and good hearted and we will soon discover that many of the people whom he praises in his tale are actually not good people at all For once Fielding mostly discards the habit of giving his characters comic names that reflect their virtues and vices Here the characters have neutral common names and the reader is obliged to take time to work out the true worth of the book’s characters just as Booth and Amelia have to do albeit we are given direction from the omniscient authorHence Colonel Bath is honourable in Booth’s account but proves to be an aggressive bully who euates honour with violence Colonel James is not the generous friend of Booth’s that he first appears to be but is actually a selfish womaniser with designs on Amelia Both men are married to wives who seem virtuous at first but who are every bit as snobbish deceitful and licentious as their husbandsIndeed other characters in the book will also prove hard to read Mrs Ellison appears to be a kindly landlady but is actually working with the unnamed peer to ensure the seduction of Amelia and she is by no means his first victim The peer seems philanthropic and loving towards children but only a means of seducing their mothers Trent is happy to lend Booth money but proves to be a cynical pimp and blackmailerThere are virtuous characters However even some of those are flawed Mrs Atkinson is a good friend to Amelia but she is not above exploiting Amelia’s name to get favours from the unnamed lord Booth may be our hero but he is weak willed and capable of wasting his fortune and of gambling and infidelityIt is not for nothing that one of the other great symbols of the novel is a masuerade where everyone hides behind masks and the occasion is used for extra marital assignations and rather sinister acts of rape This is a world in which people are not what they seem Many of them genuinely do have good ualities and this makes it harder for the Booths to discern that they are nonetheless bad peopleThere are a few exemplars of virtue in the book Mr Atkinson is loyal to the Booths and loving toward Amelia Dr Harrison too is a model of Christian benevolence and instruction though readers are likely to find his long speeches and letters rather prosy and sermonising It is not for nothing that Fielding includes a scene at the masuerade where a diatribe by Harrison about chastity is read aloud to a group of degenerate nobles who laugh at the sentimentsAs ever the heroine is beyond reproach in Fielding He is not wholly judgmental about women who lapse but he still holds on to the idea that a true heroine should have a higher standard of virtue than his hero If Booth seems undeserving of Amelia we should remember that nobody could be worthy of such a paragon Feminists will not find much to admire in Amelia thereforeThey may derive hope from Mrs Atkinson who is a genuinely well educated lady and who freuently spars with Dr Harrison Fielding uncharacteristically leaves it open as to whether he personally believes that women should receive a good education However while Mrs Atkinson sometimes forgets herself during her arguments she is a sympathetic character and her arguments in favour of female education are certainly sensibleThe main theme of the immoral activities that fill the remainder of the book is the uestion of marital infidelity Many of the couples seen in the book are entirely faithless towards one another The men get bored and move on to new women The women in turn have affairs or help to procure women for the men It is this which leads to a corruption of morals with the characters stopping at nothing to indulge their appetitesHence the rest of the book is devoted to Amelia’s attempts to avoid falling into the clutches of a variety of vicious men including the unnamed lord Colonel James and Trent The various machinations of these corrupt men will lead to the constant endangerment of both the Booths with the Captain freuently at risk of ruination himself as the philanderers try to get him out of the wayCaptain Booth is also part of this fallen world Early in the novel he falls prey to the charms of Miss Matthews and is obliged to spend a good deal of time trying to conceal details of this from Amelia unnecessarily since she already knows This further complicates Booth’s predicament since he has to cope with the manoeuvres of the discarded Miss Matthews to win him back There is a severe price to pay then for all marital infidelities even those committed by people who are not especially vicious or depraved This is further emphasised in the story of Mrs Atkinson and her first husband Mr Bennett Mrs Atkinson was raped by the unnamed lord and this led to her husband’s death and some guilt on her part The importance of Amelia maintaining her chastity then is not just a matter of prudishness but of self preservationWhile Fielding may condemn infidelity here he is less harsh on second marriages There is some discussion about whether remarriage constitutes infidelity or even bigamy but Fielding who himself remarried comes down on the side of favouring remarriages Hence Mrs Bennett is able to become Mrs Atkinson without any judgmentOne of the other corrupting influences on Captain Booth is his fatalistic philosophy Booth has turned his back on Christianity and adopted a fatalistic view of the world in which everything is decided by providence and vices and virtues do not exist This view which is tantamount to atheism in Fielding’s eyes serves Booth badly and is one of the reasons why he is feckless with money and faithless to Amelia It is only at the end of the book that he is able to read some sensible sermons and adopt the proper Christian view of lifeSuch a conclusion is a little strange since this is not a world in which Christian justice is seen in abundance The virtuous suffer many cruel deprivations and the vicious are able to prosper albeit at cost to their soul It is the first Fielding novel in which a happy ending is genuinely in doubt until a final plot device restores Amelia to her mother’s inheritanceAmelia is certainly not as important in its influence on the development of the English novel as Joseph Andrews and Tom Jones However in some ways it is anticipatory of the future direction of the novel Its one word title in the style of Richardson is typical of future novel names than the longer verbose titles that Fielding usually employed Fielding gives his characters realistic names and a mixture of virtues and vices rather than setting them up as cardboard cut outs who serve as mere exemplars of certain traitsThe structure of the book is forward looking too It is not a birth to marriage book but one that begins in the middle It contains several passages that break up the conventional chronology of the story notably the second and third Books Fielding employs different voices with three of the Books narrated by characters of varying reliability Admittedly it still looks back in some ways and is structured around Virgil’s Aeneid albeit looselyFielding also suppresses his authorial voice to a greater degree There is still a fair amount of commentary from him but he sets aside only one chapter to have his fireside chat with the reader employed in the first chapter of every Book in Tom Jones To a greater degree he also allows the story to tell itself Notably the plot is far less tightly constructed than in earlier books Indeed it follows a repetitive circle of intrigues against the Booths reflecting the vicious circle in which our heroes are trappedIn spite of its anticipation of later novels Amelia is something of a forgotten work by Fielding and it deserves to be better known It is an under rated work and one that showed its author to be a gifted writer who still had many ideas and innovations to offer the world

summary ↠ eBook or Kindle ePUB ✓ Henry Fielding

Or dry is a dead thing and a museum is but a mortuary Fielding's men and women once let it be said are all alive The palace of his work is the hall not of Eblis but of a uite beneficent enchanter who puts burning hearts into his subjects not to torture them but only that they may light up for us their whole organization and being They are not in the least the worse for it and we are infinitely the better From editor George Saintsbury's Introducti. Free download available at Project GutenbergOpening linesThe various accidents which befel a very worthy couple after their uniting in the state of matrimony will be the subject of the following history The distresses which they waded through were some of them so exuisite and the incidents which produced these so extraordinary that they seemed to reuire not only the utmost malice but the utmost invention which superstition hath ever attributed to Fortune though whether any such being interfered in the case or indeed whether there be any such being in the universe is a matter which I by no means presume to determine in the affirmative To speak a bold truth I am after much mature deliberation inclined to suspect that the public voice hath in all ages done much injustice to Fortune and hath convicted her of many facts in which she had not the least concern I uestion much whether we may not by natural means account for the success of knaves the calamities of fools with all the miseries in which men of sense sometimes involve themselves by uitting the directions of Prudence and following the blind guidance of a predominant passion; in short for all the ordinary phenomena which are imputed to Fortune; whom perhaps men accuse with no less absurdity in life than a bad player complains of ill luck at the game of chess3 Tom Jones2 AmeliaTR Joseph Andrews

Henry Fielding ✓ 3 free read

Amelia author Henry FieldiTh a relentlessness which Swift could hardly have exceeded and a good nature which Swift rarely or never attained has held them up to us as dissected preparations of half innocent meanness scoundrelism and vanity such as are hardly anywhere else to be found I have used the word 'preparations' and it in part indicates Fielding's virtue a virtue shown I think in this book as much as anywhere But it does not fully indicate it; for the preparation wet. Fielding's single best book is probably Joseph Andrews but this one is notable because he moved on from satirizing the nascent modern novel form and instead used it to peddle his views on certain social issues of the timeThat leads to some rather long dialog passages in which in the guise of conversation expository lectures are given on the justice system its penal arm specifically debtors' prison the police of the time you'll recall Fielding founded the Bow Street Runners Christian virtue the discussion of whether a widow's remarriage still counts as adultery is particularly jaw dropping to the modern jaw etc etcAmelia herself is impossibly virtuous and considerate to everyone Her husband Captain Booth is perhaps the main character and though we want to sympathize with him his feckless inability to manage his family's affairs starts to wear Additionally his wife is sufficiently beautiful that she is continuously under siege from Booth's erstwhile friends and acuaintances which further hobbles his decision making there are freuent allusions to OthelloIn the end this is not a book where too much giveaway is a problem the restoration of a swindled inheritance saves Booth from even having to work as hard as accepting a sinecure army commission so it's happily ever after