In Tom Jones, Fielding explores a myriad of characters and situations through the eyes of the main character. These situations expose Fieldings own views on human nature and how it affected society in the eighteenth century. Fielding uses the many characters and their relationships to one another to relate differing qualities of human nature, and I will explore those opinions in this paper. Fielding's main exploration of human nature is regarding morality in the eighteenth century and how it shaped society.
At first sight, readers of Tom Jones may think the characters in the novel to be superficial and shallow; however, we must consider the historical background of the time in which the novel was written. As a novelist in the eighteenth century, an age when society required all novels to be morally written, Fielding had to combat the expectations of his time since many of the novel's characters seem to be too good to be true. The restrictive culture of Eighteenth Century England required novels to be written with these moral tones, and so Fielding had to include these values in order to be able to be published.
In The History of Tom Jones, Fielding's sense of morality is evident. The hero Fielding
creates is not a man without flaws, but a man who does make occasional mistakes. Fielding clearly views human nature as a combination of good and evil; Tom Jones is a fundamentally good person- he is lusty, but also incredible honest. Though Jones is plagued with sexual indulgences, his primary weakness, he makes amends throughout the novel with honesty, goodwill, and and honor- showing, ultimately, the goodness of human nature. Another moral aspect that Fielding explores in Jones' character is the belief that the nobility of the heart matters more than the nobility of birth or rank in society. He demonstrates through characters in the novel that nobility of birth does not always equal nobility of the heart. In the novel many characters of noble birth prove, by...
Cited: Fielding, Henry. Tom Jones. ed. Sheridan Baker. New York; WW Norton, 1995.
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