Biblical references in the novels of Samuel Richardson and Henry Fielding published in the 1740s

Andrew, Rebekah ORCID: 0000-0002-2497-880X (2021). Biblical references in the novels of Samuel Richardson and Henry Fielding published in the 1740s. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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This thesis analyses the biblical references in and moral conversation between six eighteenth-century novels. It investigates Samuel Richardson’s Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded (1740); Pamela in her Exalted Condition (1742); and Clarissa, or the History of a Young Lady (1748), alongside Henry Fielding’s Shamela (1741); Joseph Andrews (1742); and Tom Jones, a Foundling (1749). By close reading these six novels, I have noted 440 biblical references, many of which have been previously unnoticed. These references were analysed in order to assess why the author chose to quote Scripture, and to what end. The high number of biblical references in these six novels show the importance of considering the Bible as part of the early novel’s intertextuality. Not only are there more biblical references in these novels than have previously been noted, but there is also diversity between uses of Scripture within the individual authors’ canons. These novels were selected as they form a moral conversation, with both authors responding to and correcting what they saw as moral flaws in the other’s works, and even correcting their own morality if its expression was not clear. This thesis provides a reading of eighteenth-century novels aiming to give modern readers, less well-versed in the Bible than Richardson’s and Fielding’s audience, an indication of what an eighteenth-century reader may have appreciated, who may have put down their Bible to pick up a novel for some lighter but still morally edifying reading.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of English, Drama and American & Canadian Studies, Department of English Literature
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BS The Bible
P Language and Literature > PR English literature


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