Henry Fielding who wrote Tom Jones says in Chapter 1, “…that human nature is so vastly different than what is commonly thought. He is an educated man and is familiar with the eighteenth-century London society. Fielding tries to communicate the character and temperament of Tom Jones through his illustrations. Fielding is not able to see the irony in Fielding’s representation at all points of the story.
Fielding will often’reveal’ characters rather than describe them. This makes it possible to gain a subjective understanding of the character. You can easily place the characters of the novel on a gradation list. Squire Western is virtuous while Sophia Western and Sophia Western can be described as genteel and gentle. Lady Bellaston (and young Blifil) are evil and spiteful. You’ll also find characters that are good at different levels. Characters like Jenny Jones or Partridge are not on the same path as the others and they go through a lot of development along the way. Many of these characters are driven by money or personal gain. However, they use various methods to obtain them. The author makes reference to England’s hypocrisy. Blifil’s tutors abuse Tom and try to make him feel comfortable with Allworthy. Innkeepers often judge Tom by his clothing and attempt to convince him to pay more for lodgings. Blifil accepted violence in marriage to Sophia to make his money. This is influenced by the environment. Allworthy nurtures Tom and makes him genteel, innocent. Blifil is a child of Tom and is jealous of all the attention he gets. The same holds true for other cases. Bridget grows up with her brother in his shadows, without any hope of a lot of money unless they marry. This leaves her disapproving her brother and dismissive toward marriage. Jenny, who is a scholar and has been prostitution-savvy since her youth, finds it difficult to make ends meets. Nightingale learns how to be a shrewd woman like Bellaston in London and uses them in his quest to get rid. This is also reflected in the local population. Innkeepers are also judgmental about Tom’s bastardry, and refuse to give him lodgings. It is not because they are afraid of losing Allworthy’s approval if they refuse to let Tom stay. Mrs. Fuller also judges Tom and asks him for his resignation. However, she discovers that he is a generous person and her views are now different about him. The commonality between these people is their fear of being criticized and the social shackles they live under. It is important to remember that Fielding seldom describes the character’s temper. Instead, we see him through the eyes and it creates staticity. Allworthy, Sophia, and other characters are synonymous with righteousness and virtue. It is difficult to know their true motivations. Allworthy and Sophia were said to have been raised in privilege. They learned London’s city manners and feel secure in their surroundings. There are few flaws in their characters and not much character change. However, there are many significant characters who go through major changes. Blifil is a spiteful enough person to conspire against Tom. It’s worth noting also that Allworthy & Sophia are based almost entirely on Fielding’s memories of these people.
Fielding’s narrative is notable for its closeness to the characters and exceptional use of prose. Partridge’s Latin ramblings as well as Honour misspelling letters and Western using abusive language are examples of this. Partridge may disagree with the character’s views and may use irony or satire boldly, while still patronizing them. To create an engaging story, the author employs a variety of literary devices and creates memorable characters. Jenny Jones undergoes a dramatic transformation in her character. She is no longer a bright and talented young girl but is now a smart, street-savvy woman who avoids being judged by society. She doesn’t marry and does not solicit money, but she takes the salutation as a wife to gain respect from others. In spite of hardship, she holds firm to her word and discloses Tom’s parents. We also learn more about Fielding’s personality. He gives the story a humorous ending by twisting it. The last chapters show that the characters do not play any role in the events. This is due to a plot twist which leads Tom to be chosen by Sophia.
Fielding used humor throughout the novel to criticize hypocrisy. However, it’s hard for Tom to see a story where he can ‘become worth worthy. He must be a ‘born’ person. He can’t break the class barriers because he doesn’t know how to or doesn’t want to offend readers. The book was praised anyway, even though this result may have been to ‘nullify’promiscuity. Irony is a way to expose hypocrisy, but it can also be used in certain cases to show the weaknesses of the protagonist. Jones is flawed. He is sensitive and genteel, but he lacks intelligence or talent. He has no idea how to make ends work on his trips, and he spends his nights with other women. However, he does speak of Sophia’s loyalty. He finds himself in trouble and is rescued by other people. He always finds a rescuer from outside, which is in contradiction to the author’s belief on two ex machina. “I faithfully promise that, notwithstanding any affection that we may be able to feel for the rogue whom unfortunately we made our heroe,” Tom was saved by supernatural events. However, these were beyond Tom and anyone else’s ability to accomplish. Fitzpatrick received medical assistance by pure chance. Mrs. Waters was with Fitzpatrick. Partridge is also a part of this coincidence. Waters was leaving. This scenario is comical, but it’s easy to see how everything works out.
Jenny, a woman with academic talent, resorts to prostitution to make ends work. Jenny is ridiculed for seducing Tom. Tom on the other hand is treated with contempt when it comes to Lady Bellaston’s affair. Fielding is very biased towards him. Fielding is a strong patron of those who are behaving inmorally. But Tom’s greatness always outweighs his promiscuity. Fielding’s ability to create characters that live and thrive is no doubt an amazing feat. While their subjectivity is evident, we can only understand them through their motivations.