Tom Jones

Henry Fielding

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Henry Fielding

Year Published






Perspective and Narrator

Tom Jones mixes narrative techniques: the main story is told from a third-person omniscient point of view; however, the narrator frequently (especially in the first chapter of each book) interrupts in first person and speaks with the authority of the author, even directly addressing the reader. In this way, Fielding borrows from the Greek comedic tradition of parabasis, in which the leader of the chorus addresses the audience by stepping outside the diegis of the play. At other times when he claims to lack information or not know the meaning of something, the narrator does not have the true omniscience of an author.

The tone of voice this narrator takes mimics the gossipy and witty storyteller so highly prized in fashionable London salons, which served up all kinds of snack delicacies for visitors to eat. These salons were evaluated by just how witty and juicy both food and discussion were.


Tom Jones is written in the past tense, but when the narrator interrupts the narrative to speak as the author, he uses the present tense.

About the Title

The full title of the book is The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling. The use of the word history contrasts the novel with romances and grounds the text in realism. A foundling is a child abandoned by his parents at birth or shortly thereafter. This word contrasts two types of characters in the book: those motivated by money and those motivated by birth. In addition being a foundling makes Tom an outsider, which gives him social flexibility between the characters of these two worlds.


This study guide and infographic for Henry Fielding's Tom Jones offer summary and analysis on themes, symbols, and other literary devices found in the text. Explore Course Hero's library of literature materials, including documents and Q&A pairs.

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