Good Nature and Prudence: Moral Concepts of Character in Eighteenth-Century Fiction Page: 4
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appear as character traits in titular heroes of this
fiction is a natural result of the influence of theology,
philosophy, and of the periodical essay upon writers of
Among these writers Henry Fielding is the most repre-
sentative, skillful, and consistent proponent of the
ethics of good nature and prudence. Chapters seven and
eight are devoted to a close examination of the whole
Fielding canon. A number of critical interpretations are
suggested which help to clarify Fielding's ironic
treatment of prudence, his "digressions" and "interpo-
lations," and his technical development as a novelist.
Particular attention is given to Amelia as the culmination
of Fielding's efforts to present an ethical system.
The final chapter of this study considers the works
of Goldsmith and Sheridan, particularly as representative
of anti-sentimentalism. The later eighteenth century is
often considered "pre-Romantic" and aesthetically
impoverished. However, both Goldsmith and Sheridan
advocate a balancing of emotion by reason. Furthermore,
Henry Mackenzie also suggests that good nature may be
carried to emotional extremes and advocates prudence as a
guard against "sickly" sentiment. Thus, to the conclusion
of the eighteenth centur}?-, sense retains authority over
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Wynne, Edith J. Good Nature and Prudence: Moral Concepts of Character in Eighteenth-Century Fiction, dissertation, August 1976; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc331832/m1/4/: accessed January 22, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .