Henry Fielding's Philosophy of Life

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      Fielding lived in an age which was basically 'moral' in outlook. At the same time, it was an age which brought about a synthesis between emotionalism and rationalism. Fielding is quite representative of this attitude.

      Fielding's philosophy is guided by the commonsense morality of the age. "Richardson is a classic and Fielding a romantic moralist", observes a critic. Richardson's stress is on a "code", or on conformity to social standards. He judges by the deed which has been done. Fielding, on the other hand, lays stress on native impulse, the goodness of heart, the individual's conformity to his better self, and uses a novelist's privilege in judging his characters by their motives.

      Richardson's morality and philosophy of life is constricted to a narrow view of Christian virtue. Fielding's morality is based on the idea that human nature can be good. Morality is closely connected with the man's capacity to have 'good nature' and generosity of impulses rather than his rigid but hypocritical code of ethics.

      To sum up, Fielding's philosophy was based on the feeling of goodness towards others. It is not surprising that such a free vision of life did not meet with the approval of formal moralists like Richardson and Dr. Johnson. Fielding's philosophy included a healthy and commonsense view of morality and religion.

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