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Title: All you need is law? : Henry Fielding and his legal novels
Author: Kaneko, Y.
Awarding Body: University of Wales Swansea
Current Institution: Swansea University
Date of Award: 2006
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The aim of this thesis is to demonstrate the centrality to Fielding’s novels of matters and questions pertaining to the law. Being a barrister and justice, Fielding regarded himself as in the conservative tradition of the common law, and spoke in defence of his motherland’s legal heritage and wisdom. His admiring attitude towards English law did not, however, lead him to ignore its imperfections. The English Revolution seemed to have established civil liberty and rule of law, but in the age of Fielding the honourable reputation of the rule of law as an abstract principle found itself opposed to problematic practices of the English legal system, for which a corrupt part of the legal profession was partly to blame. Fielding was too keen an observer of the legal crisis not to represent it in his novels. Legal matters are much more than a mere ornament for the novels; they are central to Fielding’s novelistic plans. The first part of the thesis discusses the history of the English legal system and the legal profession up to Fielding’s time. The second part discusses the variety of ways in which the law is represented in Fielding’s four novels. Joseph Andrews casts doubt upon the soundness of the law of evidence and satirises popular attitudes towards evidence; Jonathan Wild gives a caustic picture of society not ruled by law, with the eponymous hero dismantling legal order; Tom Jones poses a legal dilemma of whether or not to obey what conscience dictates when the law seems unable to find effectual measures; Amelia expresses a deep apprehension about the English legal system and its constitution, both seeming to work in such blind and capricious ways that it is difficult for one living under their control to feel that the rule of law protects them.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available