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Narrative and Narrator: An Analysis of Joseph Andrews

Narrative and Narrator: An Analysis of Joseph Andrews

As the novel was coalescing into a distinct form of literary expression, Henry Fielding introduced a dynamic relationship between the reader and the text by developing the role of the narrator and the narrator’s responsibility in shaping the overall structure of the work. His narrative creation would become a tradition explored by modern writers. By establishing the narrator as an intermediary, the narrator was free to create and comment upon characters, actions, and situations. Fielding could conceal his ideas with metaphors and fictional examples as well as with the narrator himself. Though some have criticized Fielding’s work for lacking a definitive narrative goal, perhaps the more fruitful quest was and is in discovering the goal of the narrator (Goldberg 85). Through an understanding of the narrator of Joseph Andrews, it may be possible to discern the goal of the narrator and, thus trace the early evolution of this tradition.

Fielding’s narrator is an all-pervasive commentator and creator. Fielding forces the reader to engage his text as a text inextricably bound to the thoughts and perceptions of the author (Bartschi 53). The reader sees only what the narrator allows him or her to see. In this manner the narrator serves as a lens through which all events and characters are viewed. For example, the narrative structure of Joseph Andrews was consciously constructed as a reaction to and a refutation of the ethical system espoused in Richardson’s novel Pamela. Fielding connects his novel directly to Richardson’s fictional world, using such devices as Joseph’s letters to Pamela. He revives the memory of these characters and events, however, …

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Gossman, Lionel. “Literature and Society in the Early Enlightenment: The Case of Merivaux.” Modern Language Notes, 82 (1967): 306-333.

Hazlitt, William. “A Perfect Piece of Statistics in its Kind.” Lectures on the English Comic Writers, London, 1819. Works, ed. P.G. Howe (London: J.M. Dent, 1931) 6: 115.

McCrea, Brian. “Rewriting Pamela: Social Change and Religious Faith in Joseph Andrews.” Studies in the Novel 16 (1984): 137-49. Rpt in Joseph Andrews: A Norton Critical Edition. Homer Goldberg, Ed. New York: W.W. Norton

Essay on Resolution of Conflict in The Tempest

Resolution of Conflict in The Tempest

The Tempest, like any text, is a product of its context. It is constructed in relation to moral or ethical concerns of 17th century European Jacobean society. The resolution of conflict appears ‘natural’ or an inevitable consequence if regarded in relation to the concerns of its context. The resolution of conflict in this play incorporates Prospero being returned to his ‘rightful’ or natural position as Duke of Milan, his daughter Miranda getting married to Ferdinand, and the party returning to Milan leaving the island to the ‘monster’, Caliban. The resolution is a consequence of the concerns of the time, including the idea of the divine right of kings, courtly love, and colonisation.

Conflict between the two brothers, Prospero and Antonio, for the powerful position of Duke is resolved when Prospero is crowned; this is presented as ‘natural’ through the idea of the ‘divine right of kings’. In Jacobean society, the religious belief was that the King (James I at the time of this play) was divinely willed to have this position, and that there was a connection between God and the King. Shakespeare mimics this idea by often relating Prospero to God throughout The Tempest, with stage directions such as

‘Prospero on top, invisible’ which positions him ‘close to God’ and by his power to manipulate and control the lives of others:

‘mine enemies are a…

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… conflict.

The resolution of conflict in The Tempest is thus naturalised and constructed as an inevitable consequence through the use of moral and ethical concerns in the play, including the ‘divine right of kings’, the ‘great chain of being’, courtly love,

colonising discourse and expanding territory. The Tempest thus incorporates concerns of the Jacobean 17th century context, used to naturalise the resolution.


Shakespeare, W. The Tempest. Ed. Sutherland, J.R. (1990)


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