Description of Teachers and Tutors in Tom Jones
The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling, written by Henry Fielding, appeared in the 18th century, when the novel was only beginning to be recognized as a literary form, following the works of Daniel Defoe or Samuel Richardson. Samuel Taylor Coleridge appreciated Tom Jones “for having one of the most perfect plots ever planned”1, but the intricate plot is certainly not the only thing that makes this novel a masterpiece. Fielding creates a powerful narrator, who is omnipresent and almost omniscient. Furthermore, the characters, in contrast with other early novels of the 17th and 18th century, are deeper and come through a certain moral development. Fielding presents a wide range of characters, none of which can be defined as only positive or negative. In this essay we will deal with the three characters representing virtues and vices which teachers and moral tutors should (or should not) possess. Three teachers who appear in this novel are not major characters, but Fielding makes an obvious effort to draw their traits of character as unflattering and tries to generalize them for certain groups. To this purpose, the author uses his typical tool, and that is irony. According to standards in the 18th century (which can be applied even nowadays), teachers should be wise and educated, so that they can be a role model for others. The three teachers in this novel, however, appear to be neither wise nor educated. In certain situations they even lack the ethical behaviour.
The first schoolmaster that makes his appearance in Tom Jones is Mr. Partridge. He teaches Latin language to a servant named Jenny Jones. He “...discovered a great quickness of parts in the girl, and an extraordinary desire of learning...” (Fielding, p.63) but soon she exceeded the knowledge of her master. “This is certainly a clue to his limited intellect.”2 Partridge’s decision to speak with Jenny in Latin in front of his wife...
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