While members of the uppermost class are often depicted in literature as compassionless and stingy, Fielding’s use of generous, righteous diction purposefully defies this stereotype in his characterization of Mr. Allworthy. Even as a squire, Allworthy ironically remains the only character in the excerpt to feel any sort of sympathy toward the infant he discovers. Because “good nature [is] always the ascendant in his mind,” Allworthy is able to fully appreciate the “beauty of [the child’s] innocence.” His maternal compassion for the infant characterizes him as unusually generous and caring for a man of his wealth, and urges readers to reconsider the prejudices surrounding class and social standing. Similarly, Mrs. Deborah Wilkins also defies the stereotypes surrounding her own socioeconomic status. Rather than proving herself to be an empathetic underdog, Wilkins’ ruthless, insulting point of view characterizes her ...
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...e struggling poor, Fielding makes a point to reverse these stereotypes in the characters of Mrs. Deborah Wilkins and Squire Allworthy; Wilkins’ complete lack of sympathy for the impoverished infant’s plight characterizes her as unusually callous and shallow for an individual of such low social standing, while Mr. Allworthy’s devoted virtue similarly characterizes him as unusually generous and compassionate for someone so wealthy. Fielding’s particular combination of class and character satirizes his society’s prejudiced perception of social standing, and suggest shallowness and moral corruption are not exclusively found in members of the uppermost classes. Each person is their own individual separate from class and wealth, and should be judged as such; Fielding strongly urges his readers to leave prejudiced preconceptions of class behind when judging one’s character.
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