"Cold Venal Advocate": Henry Fielding's lawyers
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Henry Fielding wrote frequently and harshly about lawyers. While many commentators have noted Fielding's criticism of lawyers and studied Fielding's concern with legal institutions generally, none have yet undertaken a systematic study of Fielding's lawyer characters. Fielding portrays law students as wholly affectations and self-indulgent, and they never study the law. His practicing lawyers demonstrate an obsessive concern with money, and their greed determines who they understand others. They consistently act out this inner corruption in amoral ways that illustrate their complete selfishness (for Fielding, the most serious of vices). Lawyer Murphy of Amelia is the quintessential example of the "Fielding lawyer," who lacks education, is consistently avaricious, and adheres to no moral or ethical standard - not even the law itself. Fielding's satire of lawyers must be seen as both a response to the dismal contemporary situation of the British legal profession (informed by his familial connections with the law and by his own work as a lawyer) as well as a piece of a long tradition of lawyer satire. Furthermore, his commentary on lawyers must be understood as a device that not only characterizes lawyers, but also supports Fielding's larger themes, most notably, the destructive power of selfishness.
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Includes bibliographical references (leaves 65-66).
Lee, Joshua R (2002). "Cold Venal Advocate": Henry Fielding's lawyers. Texas A&M University. Available electronically from