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Henry Fielding - Compare and contrast the effectiveness of the treatment of burlesque

Uploaded by neilfin on Feb 26, 2004

The effectiveness of the treatment of burlesques can be seen through two stories namely Henry Fielding’s ‘Joseph Andrews’ and Alexander Pope’s ‘The Rape of Lock.’ These novels are two fine examples of incongruous imitation, the form that imitates the manner (form and style) and subject matter of a serious work. The serious work for Fielding was Samuel Richardson’s novel Shamela and the Greek epics (homer, Virgil) for Pope. Fielding and Pope’s books are from the same school that being satire, but although they are alike in burlesque, the form and story are not.

For instance Burlesque used through mock epic poem is distinguished in Pope’s story which elaborates the form and the ceremonious style of the epic genre, but applies it to narrate at length the trivial subject matter, that being of Belinda the elegant and frivolous lady whose vanity is cherished. In contrast to this, Fielding’s story is a comic epic in prose told through the eyes of a young man named Joseph where the story using burlesque stresses the element of self-discovery through the narrator, the characters say one thing and do another. It is appearance versus reality. Their angle of satire is separated although both of them do connect the fictional world to the world of experience.

Furthermore in ‘The Rape of Lock’, Alexander Pope’s view through the grandiose epic perspective is a quarrel between the belles and elegant of the day over the theft of a lady’s curl of which the effectiveness of Pope satire comes from this seemingly minor event. The story includes such elements of traditional epic protocol, supernatural machinery, a voyage on a ship, a visit to the under world and a historically scaled battle between the sexes. Whereas Fielding’s story is on less of a grandiose scale with only an innocent boy, it has no pomp but a story of how luck and unfortunate circumstance were thrown his way. The burlesque story was constructed as a reaction to and refutation of the ethical system used by Richardson, as shown by Henry Fielding using a unique way of portraying religion in his works. Fielding loves portraying Christianity as violent. Joseph’s friend, Parson Adams show his readiness to take part in any fights seconds this.

Pope and Fielding’s stories are about people’s eccentricities where Fielding particularly is presenting moral examples; the reader is playfully frustrated by the narrator’s story, but ultimately convinced by the serious...

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Uploaded by:   neilfin

Date:   02/26/2004

Category:   Literature

Length:   4 pages (861 words)

Views:   1492

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