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Tom Jones

Main Ideas

Key Facts

Main Ideas Key Facts

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