Interesting Twist

I really enjoyed the format of “The Expedition of Humphry Clinker,” the letters help to identify different characteristics and personalities carried out through the story. This helps with humorous elements. The themes of colonialism and adventuring intertwine with the rich upper class trends, which is appetizing for the reader. With all this being said, this type of writing is fun and different to read but at times it was hard to follow.


The humor and dialect was picked up easily but the context was rather confusing. I didn’t know why we didn’t get a taste of one of the main characters until the very end and the other characters were hard to follow as well. I drew comparisons to the humorous yet naïve approach the characters took to the opposite sex. In the letter to Phillips: “For my own part, I declare to you, in all the sincerity of friendship, that, far from having any amorous intercourse with the object in question, I never had the least acquaintance with her person; but, if she is really in the condition you describe, I suspect Mansel to be at the bottom of the whole. His visits to that shrine were no secret; and this attachment, added to some good offices” (Smollett, 28), shows a direct correlation to the portrayal of the opposite sex. Words such as “shrine, amorous intercourse” are descriptions that would not be used today. I believe that there is more of an objectification of women nowadays, when at one point it was viewed as something treasured. Then in the reading we did last week a man discovers the true being of the female body. These correlations throughout the 18th century are intriguing and I do not know what to make of it.


This book was really interesting and funny but I was kind of confused through most of it. There were many different ways this could be read. I liked the mixing of higher class mixed with adventurer and was confused as to how those could possibly go together.



2 thoughts on “Interesting Twist

  1. Hi, Lauren! I couldn’t agree with you more — the epistolary style is charming and funny at times, but boy howdy it makes following the plot tricky at times. This is the kind of book that I just have to let wash over me for the first 50 pages or so until I can find my rhythm and match up with the plot!
    You write: “I didn’t know why we didn’t get a taste of one of the main characters until the very end and the other characters were hard to follow as well.”
    What main character are you invoking here? And which of these “other characters” are you thinking of specifically?
    Tomorrow, let’s aim to make sure that we get everything squared away so that we are able to identify the main characters and the plot, etc.

    All that said, there’s a part of me that wonders if the confusing nature of the narrative isn’t part of the point. What feelings might that style and tone of writing invoke in the reader that echo some of the themes of the novel as a whole, I wonder?

    I’m glad to hear you’re enjoying this text; Matthew Bramble is a hoot!

  2. Yes, I got quite confused at times too! It was hard to keep track of the characters with the epistolary style. It would have been nice to have a summary of the characters in the beginning to reference as the novel progressed. The contradiction of a high-class adventurer was definitely complicated– it could be challenging the typical stereotypes and class expectations during this period. Similarly, Mr. Branson in contrast with his niece could be doing the same thing. Mr. Branson represents the typical, hoity-toity, upper-class man who criticizes his London surroundings, while the niece is more low-maintenance and able to enjoy the changing nature of the world.

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