Tom Jones Essays

Tom Jones Essays-14
By choosing to marry Tom, Sophia rejects the experiential model of prudence, which would encourage her to act in accordance with her knowledge of his past actions and her own experience of heartbreak.Concurrently, Tom's society (in recognizing him as Allworthy's heir) erases his youthful, transgressive experiences, seeing the actions of gentlemen as purgative and temporary.Discourse time and story time are inextricably mixed in the clause and sub-clause. What Iser does not see or state clearly is that even "gaps" and "blanks" are a means of directing the reader.

By choosing to marry Tom, Sophia rejects the experiential model of prudence, which would encourage her to act in accordance with her knowledge of his past actions and her own experience of heartbreak.Concurrently, Tom's society (in recognizing him as Allworthy's heir) erases his youthful, transgressive experiences, seeing the actions of gentlemen as purgative and temporary.Discourse time and story time are inextricably mixed in the clause and sub-clause. What Iser does not see or state clearly is that even "gaps" and "blanks" are a means of directing the reader.

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The reader is confronted with schematised views and gaps between them, but they belong to schemes of textual presentation which aim at a particular reader-involvement.

In Iser's description of the reading process the terms "gap," "vacant spaces," and "missing links" are not ironical as they are in Fielding's (or in Sterne's) dialogue with the reader and their literal meaning is taken to be stronger than their function as metaphors. The reader is supposed to fill in what the author left out--on purpose and by necessity (the text cannot spell out its own meaning).

Therein Fielding's novels, therefore, do not just serve Iser as examples to illustrate his theory but actually provide the patterns or substrata on which it is based.

In this paper, I am taking issue with Iser because his reading of Fielding does not seem quite close enough.

, which Fielding had previously and famously derided.

Then, responding to the long critical history surrounding the representation of experience in the novel, I argue that experience, for Fielding, is not constitutive of but superfluous to character identity.According to Iser the reader of Tom Jones or Joseph Andrews is encouraged by the author-narrator to help constitute the meaning of the novel.He sees Fielding's offer of co-operation at certain places in the novels which he calls "blanks" or "gaps." The reader is meant to fill the "Blanks" (Tom Jones II.i.76), Iser's main contention is that the novel does not explicitly state its meaning, but that it is the reader who constructs its meaning on the basis of these signs.Perhaps the crowning absurdity in this passage is the offer of a twelve years' gap to be filled by volunteers.What they are offered is literally a stretch of twelve years in which to have their say.Fielding’s novels, therefore, do not just serve Iser as examples to illustrate his theory but actually provide the patterns or substrata on which it is based.This inductive method, however sound in itself, requires close attention to what the text says.The ambiguity of the verb "possessed" is a special case of irony which allows Fielding to say and not say what he means.The very readers who are stupid enough to swallow his bait, "Sagacity," and believe (like the ass in the fable) to know better than the real craftsman, are the ones to whom the satirical epithet "possessed" applies.This is clearly indicated by the hyperbolic compliments concerning the reader's sagacity. Allworthy felt at first for the Loss of his Friend, those Emotions of Grief, which on such Occasions enter into all Men whose Hearts are not composed of Flint, or their Heads of as solid Materials? This scepticism on Fielding's part is corroborated by some other comments on his readers.Secondly, what Fielding calls "vacant Spaces" is hardly identical with spaces for a congenial interpretation leading up to "constructing" the text. Again, what Reader doth not know that Philosophy and Religion, in time, moderated, and at last extinguished this Grief? He distinguishes two types of readers, those of "the lowest Class" and "the upper Graduates in Criticism" (117).

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