THE COMIC EPIC NOVEL - HENRY FIELDING (1707 - 1754)
Works: he wrote 'Joseph Andrews' and 'Tom Jones'.
While Defoe and Richardson tried to hide the fictional nature of their works under diaries and letters respectively, Fielding created the comic-epic novel. He fixed the conventions in the long preface and uses the definition of epic taken from the epic poems Iliad, Aeneid and Odissy by which he is inspired in particular in the disadventures of the protagonists. The comic derives from the fact that while in the epic poems the characters were mithycal heroes, his characters are from the lower middle classes and they are ridiculous.
The plot is no longer based
on a simple sequence of events, as in Defoe, or on a single story, as in
Social denunciation is carried out indirectly, through the personal experiences of one or other of the characters who may, in turn, be robbed by highwaymen or be injustly sentenced to prison.
Style: Fielding uses the third person narrative tecnique and the narrator is obtrusive, in fact he often intervenes in the narration with ironic comments and moral reflections about what happens.
Plot: Tom Jones is a good natured and generous foundling and he is brought up as a son by Mr. Allworthy. When more or less twenty Tom falls in love with Sophia, but their love is prevented by her father, who doesn't want a foundling in his family and who wants to marry off his daughter with Mr. Allworthy's lawful son. The novel ends with Tom discovered to be the son of Allworthy's sister and he can at last marry Sophia.