The preoccupation with parsons and the parochial social order in Henry Fielding’s fiction stems from an awareness that the tone and direction of contemporary society were not what they ought to be. This was made clear by a spiraling rise in crime and a series of dangerous riots Fielding had to deal with as magistrate. Conscious of the instrumentality of the parish in securing social order, Fielding gives his reader a visionary landscape of an ideal parochial stratum that offers a paradigm of transfiguration, personal and communal, a more orderly, salubrious, and charitable society, to be secured through a balanced parson/squire dynamic. When one looks at Fielding’s novels structurally, a certain symmetry emerges: in Joseph Andrews (1742), Parson Adams is a surreal parson; in the main body of the text, Tom Jones (1749) has no good parson; and in Amelia (1751), Dr. Harrison is an ideal parson. But, it is precisely this absent centre, and the consequent void it creates in the world of Tom Jones, that give us a clearer insight into Fielding’s idea of balance in the parochial social order.
KEYWORDS: charity, parish, structure, absent, parson, balance
亨利菲爾丁小說裡對牧師和教區社會秩序的關注,源於 其本身和當代社會風氣、趨勢的不一致。這點可從菲爾丁以 治安官身份處理急遽攀升的犯罪和一系列危險暴動中清楚 看出。意識到教區為穩定社會秩序的媒介,菲爾丁透過鄉紳 和神職人員間的動力平衡,給予讀者一理想的教區階層,提 供改變個人和社區形象的模範,呈現更有秩序、健康、慈善 的社會願景。細讀菲爾丁小說時,會浮現一確鑿的對稱:在 《約瑟夫‧安卓》(1742)裡,亞當牧師是位離奇牧師;在 《湯姆‧瓊斯》(1749)的重要章節中也沒有優質牧師;《雅 米莉雅》(1751)裡的哈利森博士則是位理想牧師。然而, 正是《湯姆‧瓊斯》裡的缺席中心與隨之而起的空虛,給予 我們更清楚的洞察力,探究菲爾丁在教區社會秩序裡的平衡 想法。