"The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling" by Henry Fielding: Common Questions for Competitive Examination Part II

Genre: Comic epic of the picaresque tradition
The main character: Tom Jones
Heroine: Sophia
Other characters: Captain Waters, Mrs. Waters, Thomas Allworthy, John Blifil, Mr. Fitzpatrick, ‘Black George’ Seagrim, Lady Bellaston, Nancy Miller, Mr. Partridge etc.

 What trait of Tom’s Character do you find from the Nancy-Nightingale episode?

When Tom learns from Nightingale that his father is making an alternative arrangement for his marriage in spite of the fact that Nancy Miller, his beloved, has attempted suicide, Tom is perturbed and tries to find a solution. He comes to the conclusion that if he presents the fait accomplish of marriage, as having been already Consummated, the father will be compelled to accept the marriage. Therefore, he gives the wrong information, and everything works according to plan. The three traits of Tom revealed in this episode are his innate good nature or benevolence, his fertile inventiveness, and his tendency to put the end over the means.

What is the character of Molly Seagrim marginalized in the course of time?

 The character of Molly Seagrim is marginalized because the sole reason for her presence in the novel was to lead Tom sexually astray and thus render him discreditable to Squire Allworthy When Blifil reports to Allworthy Tom’s escapade with Molly at the end of Book VI. Allworthy immediately decides to disown him and to ask him to leave his estate. Since Sophia rather than Molly is the real heroin, Molly is no longer required once tom has been exiled.  

Mention two eccentric characters along with their peculiarity in Tom Jones.

Two eccentric characters in the novel are Man of the Hill and Mr. Partridge. Man of the Hill is one who detains people to tell them his story. He narrates his long life story. Although, Tom is hardly interested in the tale. Further, although he speaks of the unhelpful attitude of the others, he is the first to refuse help when one asks him for help.
           Partridge, who is accused of siring Tom with the main Jenny Jones, runs away from his village and becomes a barber instead of a teacher. Surprisingly, he seems to enjoy his new trade.

Why is the suspense of Tom’s parentage maintained till the very end?

The suspense about Tom’s being the illegitimate child of Allworthy’s sister is maintained not only because a picaresque novel is of ten a novel of mystery, but also because once the truth were revealed, the reader would lose interest-and suspense-about Tom’s fate. He would feel that Tom’s rehabilitation is certain since. Allworthy must accept his own nephew.

In what sense can Blifil be called a foil to Tom?

If a foil is a person who by strong contrast underlines or enhances the distinctive characteristics of another, Blifil is o indeed a foil to Tom. While Tom is impulsive and spontaneous, he is sedate and calculating while Tom is generous and idealistic, Blifil is selfish and evil. While Tom risks injury to capture a bird to give to Sophia, Blifil releases the bird in order to make a show of tenderness, though the action is only intended to hurt him while Tom is simple, Blifil is manipulative, making numerous schemes to conceal Tom’s actual paternity. As Tom is concerned with the present, Blifil is always obsessed with the future.

Why was Tom cast out of home by Mr. Allworthy?

Although, the immediate occasion for being cast out by Allworthy was that Squire Western complained against him for being the man for whose love Sophia Western had refused to marry Blifil, a person whom both Western and Allworthy had found suitable, the real reason lay in a misrepresentation of Tom’s character. Blifil, who was always machinating against Tom, described Tom’s boisterous behavior while Allworthy lay ill without pointing out that it was occasioned by the good news of the danger having passed-and how they had come across Tom and Molly in a compromising position, resulting in a fight between them.   

Give your impression of the character of Fellamor.

 Lord Fellamor, in spite of his aristocratic lineage is an extremely crude and almost criminal character. Even though he is instigated by Lady Bellaston, and although he proves a singularly foolish character in his belief that ravishment is all that a Lady may desire, his assault on Sophia is a criminally offensive act. Further, he is a coward to boot, making good his escape when squire Western arrives to protect his daughter.

‘Thy preserve the purest and tenderest affection for each other’- About whom this statement made and why?

This statement about” affection for each other” is made about Tom Jones and Sophia Western in Fielding’s novel. They have been married after confronting a series of impediments. The statement is particularly relevant because there had been considerable heart burn on Sophia’s part on account of Tom’s promiscuous ways with the likes of Molly, Mrs. Waters and Lady Bellaston. But now Tom has given up his promiscuity, just as Sophia has forgiven him his part.

“A good brisk pace will preserve us form the cold, and if you can not defend me from a villain, Honour, I will clefend   you for I will take a pistol with me”- Who is Honour? In what context does the speaker say this?

Honour is the maidservant of Sophia, Squire Western’s daughter. The speaker is Sophia who is about to run away from home because of her father’s opposition to her love for Tom, a foundling. She is about to love for London, and when Honour warns her of the danger of the road, she says this.

What is the importance of the Miss Nancy episode?

 The Nightingale-Nancy is important since it mirrors the Sophia Tom affair. Both are kept apart, at least for the time being, by the meddling of parents, and in the case of both, the fathers are blinded by the immediate prospect of riches.

What is the value of Tom Jones as a social document?

Tom Jones is a social document of historical value. It mirrors social morality, the condition of the landed gentry and of the corrupt mobility.

Mention at least five women characters from Tom Jones.
They are Sophia Western, Bridget Allworthy, Lady Bellaston, Mrs. Waters and Molly Seagrim.

‘I do assure you, I am no relation of his’-Tom says this to Mrs. Miller in ‘Book xiv.’ When she told him that she had been informed that Tom was a relative of Allworthy (his). The frank and open character that Tom is, he declares that he had a ‘dishonorable birth’ and not a direct relative of Allworthy.

Tom’s imprisonment:- Tom is imprisoned when he runs into the jealous husband, Fitzpatrick, who wrongly believe that Tom is his wife’s lover, and therefore engages him in a duel. Fitzpatrick is wounded, and again, it is erroneously assumed that he is dead. Tom is imprisoned for man slaughter, and it is only at the very moment that he is to be hanged that the truth is revealed, and Tom freed.

 Arabella Hunt:- She is a rich and beautiful society lady of about thirty who has been a widow for about a year. She proposes to Tom that he should marry her since she had a fortune sufficient to make us both happy’. Tom declines her proposal.

Ref: 1. History of English Literature- Albert, 
      2. The Concise Cambridge History of English Literature