AP British Literature and Composition
December 11, 2011
Refusal to Return: Finding Bliss at Upton
Although Tom Jones by Henry Fielding is appropriately known as a comic novel written to no set of absolute rules, the work shows many characteristics similar to epics. In epic novels the main protagonist is normally known for following a set series of events called “the hero’s journey.” The hero’s journey is often a three part adventure consisting of a departure, an initiation, and a return, through which the protagonist learns much about their strengths and weaknesses having departed from their “world” to another. In the new “world” they face challenges, enemies, and temptations that usually lead to self-realizations that eventually lead them back home with a reward. Although Tom Jones does not exactly follow the detailed steps within an epic’s three part adventure, many of these steps are seen in various places throughout the novel. For example, in Tom Jones the third “return step” starts with Tom’s refusal to return. This step parallels Tom’s attitude and actions during his stay in his “new world” at the town of Upton. This important part of the novel is a valuable step to a systematic epic hero’s journey and is the result of Tom’s interaction with the people in Upton. Author Henry Fielding believed his novel’s hero, Tom Jones, needed to go on a journey of otherworldly proportions to face difficult trials to learn about himself in order to gain the knowledge and rewards he receives at the end. In the third “return step,” Tom’s initial refusal to return was caused by his initial call to adventure. The call to adventure in a standard epic novel is supposed to be the first step of the hero’s journey, but in Tom Jones, the call is after a series of important events. Tom’s call to adventure is a result of rejection by his adopted family. Tom, who was a foundling, was raised by the wealthy Mr. Allworthy who receives false...
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