When Henry Fielding's Tom Jones was published, it was considered by many critics to be an entirely immoral, and thus, quite offensive piece of writing. Even the back cover of our Oxford World's Classics edition makes reference to the work as "A motley history of bastardism, fornication and adultery." Inside this same edition, John Bender's introduction describes the negative response to the work by Fielding's own peers and predecessors in Samuel Johnson and Samuel Richardson (xvii-xx). While the public was somewhat more enticed by the story's seedy details and wild characters, the book was generally considered with at least a little skepticism regarding the seeming lack of a moral center. This opinion, however, seems to be slightly off the mark. Perhaps more severely villainized for its form (the then new and lowly novel) in conjunction with its content, Tom Jones, is upon close inspection, a tale that does in fact include a certain kind of moralism. In Book III, Chapter VII, Fielding includes a kind of direct statement about the complexities of virtue and goodness. His ideas on the subject are quite realistically multi faceted, and presented as such, with his method of delivery supporting his opinion.
Chapter VII of Book III begins with a description of the way in which Mr. Allworthy views both Tom and Master Blifil. It is mentioned that Mrs. Blifil's adoration for Tom had had the effect of souring Mr. Allworthy's opinion of the boy. Further, Mrs. Blifil's less pleasant impression of her own son had created the opposite effect, endearing Master Blifil to Mr. Allworthy in a way completely out of sync with any objective sizing up of cha...
... middle of paper ...
..., originally criticized for lacking a sense of morals, contains what seems like an entirely realistic treatment of human nature. Fielding recognizes the complexity of goodness, and its relationship to the perception of others. The characters in his novel find themselves in any number of situations which support this idea. And, as we have seen in chapter VII of Book III, Fielding goes as far as to outright state his impression of morality. It is almost ironic, really, that a work which points to the complications involved with goodness and perception of goodness should be so thoroughly criticized for vulgarity and immorality. Tom Jones is quite like Tom Jones in that sense, for its outward appearance belies its more soundly moral interior
Fielding, Henry, Tom Jones (Oxford, England: Oxford University Press, 1996).
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- Henry Fielding felt great concern towards the embellished stylization of epic novels, and in order to relay his critiques of this popularized genre, he constructed an epic parody to reveal the turgid grandiose nature of such works through a sarcastic spoof. Commenced with his mordant invocation of a muse, Henry Fielding’s epic parody, Tom Jones emphasizes droll concern with the classical epic style by christening Homeric epithets and personifications with a satirical twist. Henry Fielding dives into the Homeric form with extensive invocations and catalogues to the Muse.... [tags: Henry Fielding, parody, Tom Jones, plays, ]
510 words (1.5 pages)
- ... When he sets his mind to this he carefully presents himself as a respectful character but makes it clear that he is unstoppable. King Henry often uses his tactics to pressure enemies into doing something that Henry wants for him or his nation. For example, King Henry threatens the leaders of France in Harfleur by saying that if France does not surrender, the French will be responsible for whatever Henry decided to do. Obviously Henry would decide to create a riot and make war. This shows how determined he is to what he wants for himself and England.... [tags: play, soldiers, morality]
726 words (2.1 pages)
- Morality in Uncle Tom's Cabin One Work Cited Harriet Beecher Stowe wrote Uncle Tom's Cabin in order to help bring the plight of southern slave workers into the spotlight in the north, aiding in its abolitionist movement. Harriet Beecher Stowe, in her work Uncle Tom's Cabin, portrayed slaves as being the most morally correct beings, often times un-humanistically so, while also portraying many whites and slave-owners to be morally wrong in most situations. Stowe created a definite distinction between the morality of slaves and their sympathizers, and those opposed to the abolitionist movement.... [tags: Uncle Tom's Cabin Essays]
1482 words (4.2 pages)
- For this project, I will be summarizing three different articles that pertain to the argument that there is an apparent double standard for what is acceptable behavior in men versus women in Tom Jones. In addition to summarizing these articles, I will also be adding my own views and comments throughout this paper. The first article is by April London, entitled Controlling the Text: Women in Tom Jones. London begins by stating that Fielding uses a metaphor between property and women throughout the text in Tom Jones.... [tags: Tom Jones Henry Fielding Essays]
1314 words (3.8 pages)
- An Analysis of Uncle Tom's Cabin "The book, Uncle Tom's Cabin, is thought of as a fantastic, even fanatic, representation of Southern life, most memorable for its emotional oversimplification of the complexities of the slave system," says Gossett (4). Harriet Beecher Stowe describes her own experiences or ones that she has witnessed in the past through the text in her novel. She grew up in Cincinnati where she had a very close look at slavery. Located on the Ohio River across from the slave state of Kentucky, the city was filled with former slaves and slaveholders.... [tags: Uncle Tom's Cabin Essays]
2814 words (8 pages)
- The Effect of Uncle Tom's Cabin Seldom does a one work of literature change a society or start it down the road to cataclysmic conflict. One such catalytic work is Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852). It is considered by many, one the most influential American works of fiction ever published. Uncle Tom's Cabin sold more copies than any other previous fiction title. It sold five thousand copies in its first two days, fifty thousand copies in eight weeks, three hundred thousand copies in a year and over a million copies in its first sixteen months.... [tags: Uncle Tom's Cabin Essays]
838 words (2.4 pages)
- Slavery in Uncle Tom's Cabin Stowe presents slavery in the only way she knows how, by using the facts. Several sources of other works in American literature contrast on to how Stowe presents slavery in her novel "Uncle Tom's Cabin." The elements of slavery are driven through the reflections of theme, characterization, and setting to show that the way slavery is presented is not contradicting. Through the character of Mrs. Shelby, Stowe seems to use her opposition against slavery the most. Mrs.... [tags: Uncle Tom's Cabin Essays]
486 words (1.4 pages)
- Marriage Issues in Tom Jones Throughout Tom Jones by Henry Fielding, there are many examples of marriage. There is Squire Western's marriage, Mr. and Mrs. Fitzpatrick's marriage, the mentions of Allworthy's wife, the marriage of Nightengale and Nancy, and the marriage of Nightengale's cousin and the clergyman, and finally the marriage of Tom and Sophia. Some of these marriages end with a happy ending and some do not and we, the reader, are supposed to look at these marriages and see why they went wrong or why they are good.... [tags: Tom Jones Essays]
935 words (2.7 pages)
- Henry Ford "It is doubtful if any mechanical invention in the history of the world has influenced in the same length of time the lives of so many people in an important way as the motor car." So writes an American historian, thinking of the automobile alone. But it does not stand-alone. It was the automobile factory that introduced mass production, a process that has changed the lineaments of our economic and social life more profoundly than any other single element in the recent history of civilization.... [tags: History Biography Henry Ford Essays]
2306 words (6.6 pages)
- Henry James In August of 1904, after more than two decades abroad, the sixty-year-old Henry James returned to the United States for a year. While William James had famously remarked that his brother was "a native of the James family" (W James 517), with little else in the way of national affiliation, Henry considered himself as American as ever after his twenty years in Europe. The book he wrote about his American journey was titled The American Scene only because James's first choice had been taken; he would have preferred to call it The Return of the Native. But James's sense of himself as a native, as one at home in the United States, was shaken by his alienating experie... [tags: American Scence Henry James Essays]
3090 words (8.8 pages)