William Godwin's "Caleb Williams" Book Review by jaberwocky

William Godwin's "Caleb Williams"
An analysis of William Godwin's "Caleb Williams" and how, though it may be read as an innocent murder mystery novel, when examined in the context of the author's life, the book is actually an attack on the law.
# 103051 | 1,680 words | 4 sources | MLA | 2004 | US
Published on Apr 13, 2008 in Literature (English) , Political Science (Non-U.S.) , English (Analysis)

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This paper discusses that William Godwin wrote "Caleb Williams" as an attempt to present in a story form the political views, which he wrote about in "Enquiry Concerning Political Justice". The author points out that this novel is a satire on the entire English system of laws and justice. The paper relates that Godwin created a character named Caleb Williams, who gets himself entangled in a battle with the law, to act as the writer's voice. The author states that, to Godwin, laws are created merely with the intent of oppressing the poor and allowing free reign over the social and political situation of the rich. The paper relates that, in this novel, innocents are arrested and found guilty without any proof other than the declaration of their blame by the affluent and dominant socialites. The author maintains that the book infers that the most absurd characteristic of the law is its inflexibility.

From the Paper:

"Born to a family of dissenting ministers, Godwin began his life in the church but soon after abandoned his position and, with the advice of a friend, began writing for sustenance and profit. His background in radical dissent helped ease him into the world of 1780s London. At this time, prominent writers and speakers such as Thomas Paine and Mary Wollstonecraft, who he would later marry, were speaking out against the injustices of the established political system. At this time Godwin wrote his "Enquiry Concerning Political Justice" and, soon after, "Caleb Williams", both of which articulate his position which became known as "rational anarchism."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Clark, J.P. The Philosophical Anarchism of William Godwin. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1977.
  • Hollingsworth, Keith. The Newgate Novel, 1839-1847. Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 1963.
  • Godwin, William. Political Justice, 1793. II, 325.
  • Godwin, William. Caleb Williams, Penguin Classics, 2005.

Cite this Book Review:

APA Format

William Godwin's "Caleb Williams" (2008, April 13) Retrieved October 17, 2019, from https://www.academon.com/book-review/william-godwin-caleb-williams-103051/

MLA Format

"William Godwin's "Caleb Williams"" 13 April 2008. Web. 17 October. 2019. <https://www.academon.com/book-review/william-godwin-caleb-williams-103051/>