Abstract: This essay explores how classical legal or forensic rhetoric informs Henry Fielding's work as a novelist. Focusing on the dichotomous or contradictory application and characterization of forensic rhetoric in Fielding's three major novels—joseph Andrews, Tom jones, and Amelia—I will suggest that the exuberance and confidence that tjrpify the novelist's portrayal of legal rhetoric within the diegetic realm of his narrators is undermined or rendered problematic by the wariness and pessimism with which the same kind of discourse is presented within the mimetie worlds of the stories themselves. After speculating about the biographical, historical, and aesthetic ramifications of this dichotomy, the essay concludes with brief discussion of the ideological significance of Fielding's portrayal of the lawyerly art of persuasion.

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