Henry Fielding was born in 1707 into an aristocratic family. During his studied he began to love Latin and Greek literature and became a playwright. In 1737 whit the licensing act of Walpole, some of his plays were censured, so he resumed legal studies and became a barrister. He started a novel writing career and with the novel “Tom Jones”, his novel became more socially orientated.
Plot: Tom Jones is a foundling which was abandoned by his parents when he was a child. He was adopted by Mr. Allworthy who is more fond of him, than for his real nephew Blifil. Tom is a generous and kind young man, popular with ladies, so Blifil is jealous of him. He fall in love with Sophia Western, his neighbor’s daughter, but her father opposes to their love. Blifil, due to his jealousy, manages to ruin Tom’s reputation, so he’s obliged to leave the house. Finally, it is discovered that Tom is the son of Mr. Allworthy’s sister, Blifil is unmasked and Tom marry Sophia.
Comic epic: This novel is a “comic epic novel”. Epic because it has various plots evolving at the same time, it’s full of action, and there is a depiction of the English society of that time. Comic because Fielding uses the mock heroic style, he describes the characters with classical techniques of the epic but in a satirical way, in order to mock them.
cHARACTER: Tom Jones reflexes the picaresque tradition, which influenced Fielding’s works. He is an eccentric hero which has a series of adventures which enable him to observe the world around him (picaro). The character reflexes also the anti-hero, an ordinary person which is not perfect because he has many flaws, and this satisfied the tastes of the middle class readers.