Tom Jones, Fielding's imperfect and "mortal" hero, is the character through whom Fielding gives voice to his philosophy of Virtue. In contrast to the moral philosophizing of many of Fielding's contemporaries, Fielding does not suggest that Tom's affairs with Molly Seagrim, Mrs. Waters, and Lady Bellaston should reflect badly on his character. Rather, keeping with the Romantic genre, Fielding seems to admire Tom's adherence to the principles of Gallantry, which require that a man return the interest of a woman. Interestingly, all of Tom's love affairs, including his relationship with Sophia, his true love, are initiated by the woman in question, which is Fielding's way of excusing Tom from the charge of lustful depravity.
Moreover, the fact that Tom's lovers include a feisty, unfeminine wench and two middle-aged women suggest that his motives are various. Tom also treats women with the utmost respect, obliging their desire to be courted by pretending to be the seducer even when they are seducing him. Tom refuses to abandon Molly for Sophia and is plagued by his obligations to Lady Bellaston. Nonetheless, Tom's refusal of the tempting marriage proposal of Arabella Hunt—whose last name underscores the fact that Tom is hunted more often than he is the hunter—indicates that he has mended his wild ways and is ready to become Sophia's husband. Tom's gallantry reveals itself in his relationships with men as well as women, however. This spirit is evident in Tom's insistence on paying the drinking bill for the army men at Bristol, and in his gallant defense of himself in the duel.