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Tom Jones

Henry Fielding

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Important Quotations Explained

Study Questions and Suggested Essay Topics

full title  ·  Tom Jones

author  ·  Henry Fielding

type of work  ·  Novel

genre  ·  Epic comic romance; Bildungsroman

language  ·  English

time and place written  ·  1745, England

date of first publication  ·  1749

publisher  ·  A. Millar, London

narrator  ·  Anonymous

point of view  ·  The narrator predominantly speaks in the first person singular, but occasionally slips into a Victorian first person plural "we." The last quarter of the novel is partly epistolary, with letters embedded in the prose. The narrator is essentially omniscient and fluctuates between the minds of various characters.

tone  ·  The narrator's tone is constantly ironic. There has been much debate, however, about what kind of irony Fielding employs, and critics have coined various terms to describe the narrative tone, which is unique to Fielding.

tense  ·  Past

setting (time)  ·  c. 1745

setting (place)  ·  England (mainly Somersetshire, Bristol, Upton, London)

protagonist  ·  Tom Jones

major conflict  ·  Tom Jones and Sophia Western cannot marry, since Tom is believed to be a foundling bastard and Sophia's father wishes her to marry someone of her own gentile class.

rising action  ·  Tom and Sophia fall in love, Allworthy banishes Tom, Sophia runs away from Squire Western to London, Tom has an affair with Lady Bellaston .

climax  ·  Tom is thrown into prison for "killing" Fitzpatrick in a duel.

falling action  ·  Tom's friends rally to reunite him with Sophia and clear his name, Blifil's deceit is discovered.

themes  ·  Virtue as action rather than thought, the impossibility of stereotypical categorization, the tension between Art and Artifice

motifs  ·  Food, travel, the law, the stage

symbols  ·  Sophia's muff

foreshadowing  ·  The narrator engages in constant self-conscious foreshadowing of the events of the upcoming chapter or book

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