chapter  Chapter VII
28 Pages

A Manly Man

WithHenry Fielding

Samuel Richardson’s narrative is an indefinitely expanded Addisonian essay, coherent, and sharply focused upon a character who exemplifies a principle. Henry Fielding’s narrative, in spite of a pretense of classical unity, is not only loose, digressive, and strongly tinctured with his own personality, but makes a virtue of liberties he takes with form and workmanship. The essential story of Amelia is the story of a weak man and a strong woman—of a man whose weakness is the want of prudence in the regulation of his day-to-day life. In Amelia the purport of the story is plainly, even assertively, moral. Amelia is conceived somewhat romantically, as an eighteenth-century version of the story of Patient Griselda, but with a reprobate husband instead of a jealous one. The greater vitality of Amelia, the thing that makes it lovable for readers who have seen more of life than their teens, is the simple fact that the character of Amelia has aged, like good wine.