English Society in Literature

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Literature is, undoubtedly, a social commentary whereby most, if not all, works therein withstand societal interpretation whether in the constructs of society presented or in their selective positioning of protagonists and characters vis--vis society. It is within the parameters of the stated that Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels and Henry Fielding's Joseph Andrews, are best appreciated and most accurately understood.


Critics have unanimously acknowledged Joseph Andrews and Gulliver's Travels to be social satires, whose primary intention was the exposure of English social foibles, eccentricities and hypocrisies. Frank (1994), a literary scholar, notes that the society, as presented in Joseph Andrews, is inarguably reflective of the author's contemporaneous English society and social relations, with the canonical authorial tone employed throughout intended to expose and highlight the stated society's comical hypocrisy and pervasive superficiality, hidden beneath a very thin veneer of sophistication, tradition, custom and religiosity.
While the above stated interpretation may sound unduly harsh, especially in consideration of the quasi-comical storyline, Cruise (1987) and Baker (1968) concede to it, with the latter drawing attention to the theme of false versus genuine virtue as supporting evidence. In line with the stated interpretation, the society presented within Joseph Andrews emerges as a fundamentally flawed one; a society inherently devoted to the maintenance of the superficiality of the seeming' versus the authenticity of the being.' Nowhere is the stated more evident than in Fielding's portrayal of parson Adams.
Parson Adam's characte ...
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