“Joseph Andrews” as a Picaresque Novel ________________________________________________ What is a picaresque novel? The term picaresque has been derived from the Spanish word picaro which means a rogue or a villain. Originally, a type of romance that dealt with rogues or villains was called picaresque. A picaresque novel presented , in an extravagant style, a series of adventures , and misadventures , mostly on the highways . The earliest examples of the picaresque novel are Lizaritle de Tormes and Guzman de Alfarachi. Fielding was considerably influenced by Gil Blass and Don Quixote.
In fact there are marked resemblance between Joseph Andrews and Don Quixote. Parson Adam is clearly a Quixotic figure. The Picaresque element in the novel is introduced in Book 1 chapter 10 with Joseph setting out on his journey in the moonlight. From here onwards to the end of Book 111, it follows the picaresque tradition closely. Joseph soon gets robbed and is thrown into a ditch , stripped and half dead. The stage – coach episode provides Fielding with an opportunity to expose their hypocrisy and callousness of the respected people.
Joseph and Parson Adams run into the picaresque journey that began with satirical exposure of the society assumes a partially humors tone. In a part of the book 1 and the middle two Books where the picaresque motif is followed, Fielding brings his major characters in contact with different strata of society- country squires, divines and philosophers , lawyers and surgeons , landladies , beggars and highway men- and exposes the contemporary social evils as well as human follies and foibles of a more general nature.
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Finally , the rambling or destructive narrative of Joseph Andrews also enforces the picaresque motif of the novel. Fielding employs here a very lose plot, for his purpose is the depiction of the society and the plot is not given much importance. How does Fielding as a satirist project his moral vision? / Discuss Joseph Andrews as a social document. Fielding is considered to be the pioneer of the realistic novel in England. Defoe’s novels, apparently grounded in reality , are romantic in spirit. In fact, Fielding based all his novels on actual experience.
In “Joseph Andrews”, Fielding presents a very realistic picture of the life of the English countryside in the first half of the 18th century. The first thing that strikes us about the society is its extra- ordinary callousness, even downright cruelty. Most of the members are selfish, insensible and hard- hearted. The stage-coach episode where Joseph , half killed and stripped naked by robbers , is reluctantly rescued by the passengers in the stage coach, but receives no sympathy or comfort from any except the poor postilion, full brings out this callous temper.
The surgeon refuses to leave his bed to attend Joseph just because he has no means of paying HIS FEE. Mrs. Tow-Wouse forbids her husband to lend him a shirt . Parson Trulliber can’t afford even 14 shillings to assist Parson Adams; on the contrary , he accuses him of being a vagabond. Lawyer Scout is of the opinion that there are far too many poor, and that we’ we ought to have an Act to hang or transport half of them. The novel also depicts the wide gulf that seems to separate the high people from the low people. The distinction between these two groups is quite rigid. Lady Booby refers to her country neighbors as brutes. She grossly insults Adams on his insistence on publishing the banns of marriage. These high class people show utter disregard of the rights and interests of the poor people. For example, Lady Booby is not concerned whether pr not servants get their wages in time.
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