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Tom Jones as Mirror of Its Age

Tom Jones as Mirror of Its Age

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Published by Rizwan Rao
Rizwan Rao
0345-3206166
Rizwan Rao
0345-3206166

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Published by: Rizwan Rao on Dec 30, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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11/29/2012

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Introduction
 This novel was written in 1745 and published in 1749, both inEngland. It is categorized as Epic Comic Romance. The writer of this novel, Henry Fielding happens to be the innovator of thisgenre into English literature. But its not only the peculiarity of itsform which makes it popular even after two hundred plus years,rather it’s the content, the grand action which it presents, themoral theme which it contains, variety of realistically presentedcharacters and above all the versatile treatment of the subjectundertaken had grant it the status of a masterpiece in Englishliterature. Since the assignment work is especially about how farit depicts the contemporary society, so I begin with analyzing thisnovel in the relative topic.
Tom Jones
as Mirror of its age
Tom Jones
is a lively novel. It’s a life long experience of acharacter related integrally with that of its writer and sharedwonderfully with its readers. Henry Fielding, the author of 
Tom Jones
happens to be one amongst those great writers who did notdraw their stories from classical and Christian mythology, epics,history, Bible etc. They took stories from the incidents which werequite commonly occurring in that age. This is indeed the firstcriteria for a writer to be realistic with the society in order presentin his writings what he has witnessed. The best example of suchtype of writing is
Tom Jones
. The realism of this novel does notreflect life and manners of aristocracy, but its prime focus is uponmiddle class society. The majority of characters in
Tom Jones
including the Hero
Tom
belong to the middle class family.
Tom Jones
show us not only the pious side of the middle class, but italso exposes corruption amongst them and their attitude towardsother classes in the society. On the one hand,
Tom Jones
bestowsthem with virtues like courage, generosity and benevolence.While on the other hand, it points out vices in form of maligning,hypocrisy and injustice. No doubt these all traits existed in theEnglish society at the time when this novel was written. But,hardly anyone before Fielding dared to present them as vividly ashe did. It is because of this brilliant mode of expression thatWilliam Hazlitt said:
Rao Rizwan Sadiq. M.A. English (2009-11) Islamia University of Bahawalpur.
 
“To read
Tom Jones
is like going out into the worldshedding prejudices, social awkwardness. It is a balancedexperience, one that gives us insight into the humannature, tolerance of its weaknesses and large platitude of its strength.”(WilliamHazlitt)
Tom Jones
presents society as it was. It does notexaggerate in any angle of literary possibility of exaggeration. If acharacter has more virtuous characteristics, it reflects him in theform of elderly gentlemen Squire Allworthy. If a character insociety is more vicious,
Tom Jones
presents him in the shape of Blifil. If a reckless and selfless youngster roams in the societydoing favours to people,
Tom Jones
makes him its Protagonist. The lovely lady Sophia cannot be exception from realisticcharacters in any way. Morally weak persons of the society arepresented in the form of Master Blifil who is greedy of wealth, andBridget western who gets seduced but tries to bury her blunders.Perhaps the most realistic character of the age, Molly, morallyweakest of all, belong to poor family, entices youngsters for goinginto bed with her for few pennies, entraps Tom the hero of thenovel. Exploitation of social norms, ones own integrity,established institutions of the society and class complexities wereall common features of the age which have been quitemagnificently reflected into this novel. Fielding’s novels, particularly
Tom Jones
, are characterized bysocial satire, overflowing realism, fresh and altruistic moralapproach, good sense of humour and healthy sentiment.
Tom Jones
does not only take reader into the house of a character, butit shows his life on the road as well.
Tom Jones
is often said to bethe portrayal of the urban London life of eighteenth century. Hesucceeded in putting morality, religion, social status, politics,education, reformation and culture of English society in just onecanvas. Morality; as it was declining day by day. Social status; asit meant everything to people in that age. Education was not yetconsidered as the ornament of every individual; instead it wasimparted to either those who could afford or to those who hadsome state support. Reformation; when virtue wins over vice.Culture; when every individual and collective trait and behaviourof society is bind together with one force. All these features have
Rao Rizwan Sadiq. M.A. English (2009-11) Islamia University of Bahawalpur.
 
been marvelously depicted in
Tom Jones
and they present if notexactly real then quite close to the real picture of the society.
Tom Jones
, as it seems, to have escaped no aspect of its age. Two most prominent features which are to be kept inconsideration while analyzing
Tom Jones
as mirror of its age aretime and place. Fielding has been immensely conscious of boththese factors and has very skillfully made both these objects ascontributing pieces towards his reflective realism. The broader view of this novel would take us to a belief that itdoes not merely reflect the contemporary society or age, but ittends to reflect the very nature of a human being. From thisperspective it would be quite obvious to say that
Tom Jones
is infact the mirror of human nature. It discloses good and bad natureof a human being. It discusses a subject and a theme which havebeen prevailing in the age before him but scarcely chosen byanyone for moral restrictions or any other reason. However, thewriter of 
Tom Jones
dared to expose negative qualities in ahuman being regardless of how poor or how rich one may be. Inaddition, to achieve the purpose of moral teaching and to makethe story natural, colorful and dramatic, he employs such skills asauthorial intrusion, mock-heroic style, and irony. With authorialintrusion, Fielding engages his readers in the evaluations of moral judgments. With irony and mock-heroic style, Fielding not onlyoffers himself chances to play with his lively humor, but he alsocreates chances for his readers to assess the characters. Thus, itis fair to say that the core of 
Tom Jones
is a parade of humannature which is brilliantly significant in his novel.
Tom Jones
can also be regarded as reflection of inner vices andvirtues of every human being. Fielding preaches through thecharacter of 
Tom Jones
that nobility of heart matters more thannobility of birth. To this point
Tom Jones
offers an ostensibleexample. Before his true birth is revealed, he is a foundling, abastard, a status of the most ignoble birth. Nonetheless, it is anirrefutable truth that nobility of birth cannot guarantee nobility of heart. In this novel there are many characters of noble birth whoprove dishonest, selfish, evil, and even hideous, such as LordFellamar, who attempts to rape Sophie; Lady Bellaston, who triesto do Tom a great deal of evil after she loses her fancy to him;Master Blifil, the most odious character, who plays false witnessagainst Tom many times; Bridget Blifil, who bears Tom and
Rao Rizwan Sadiq. M.A. English (2009-11) Islamia University of Bahawalpur.

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