COUNTER-NARRATIVES IN 18TH CENTURY SELECTED FICTION: ANALYZING SATIRICAL RESPONSES AND ALTERNATIVE PERSPECTIVES
This study delves into the immediate critical response to Samuel Richardson‟s 1740 novel “Pamela,” which became highly popular for portraying a maidservant embodying peak levels of moral purity. Henry Fielding stands out as a significant critic of “Pamela,” and this paper scrutinizes his counter-narratives, “Shamela” (1741) and “Joseph Andrews” (1742). Fielding, along with other critics, perceived “Pamela” as a disruption to the established norms of master-servant and upper-lower class dynamics prevalent during the 18th century. Utilizing a variety of literary techniques, Fielding compels the reader to question the sincerity and integrity of their beloved character, Pamela. In his works, Fielding recasts Pamela as a strategic social climber, who is manipulative in her attempts to marry her employer. He meticulously unpacks Richardson‟s narrative to expose its artificiality and pretence. By aligning his narrative with Richardson‟s, Fielding seeks to instil skepticism among “Pamela” enthusiasts about the work‟s ethical soundness. Further extending his critique, Fielding introduced “Joseph Andrews” as a subsidiary narrative aimed at demystifying the elevated notions of virtue and moral purity.
Keywords: Critical Response, Henry Fielding, Master-Servant Dynamics, 18th Century Norms, Literary Techniques, Social Climber.