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Sin and EvilMoral Values in Literature$
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Ronald Paulson

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780300120141

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: October 2013

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300120141.001.0001

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Sin/Evil and the Law: The Novel

Sin/Evil and the Law: The Novel

(p.124) Chapter Four Sin/Evil and the Law: The Novel
Sin and Evil

Ronald Paulson

Yale University Press

This chapter describes how Hogarth extended the stage, which was considered the place in which to learn morals, to his “modern moral subjects” with engravings that were frozen scenes from plays such as The Beggar's Opera, Nicholas Rowe's Jane Shore, and George Lillo's London Merchant. In these venues conventional ideas of sin were modified, complicated, and, above all, rematerialized in the new genre that emerged in the 1720s–40s, the novel. A primary source for Fielding's, as for Hogarth's, model of sin-evil was The Beggar's Opera, in which the criminals are bad and punished but the respectable folk are worse and go unpunished. Fielding argues that doing right makes you feel good, doing evil makes you feel bad—unless you are a fiend or a demon.

Keywords:   modern moral subjects, Hogarth, novel, sin, Fielding, model of sin-evil

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