Tom Jones is the headstrong and handsome romantic hero in this story of a bastard and foundling's progress through the world. He begins life as nobody's child and is informally adopted by an exemplary Christian and philanthropist. He has a wild streak but is generous, brave, and strong, with a heart of gold and compassion for the poor. His fatal flaw is that he lacks good judgment, evidenced by the fact that when a woman invites him for a tryst he cannot refuse. He is in love with the fair Sophia, but he must learn many lessons, most especially the lesson of caution, before she accepts his marriage proposal at the end of the novel.
Sophia Western is the heroine of the novel. She is an exemplary female—obedient to her father but at the same time prudent enough to not imitate his bad behavior. She is beautiful both inside and out, and she has a mature understanding of other people's character, even though she is a young person. She loves Tom Jones but will not marry him without her father's consent. At the same time she knows that Blifil is bad and refuses to marry him, running away from home to avoid this fate. Thus she proves to have both discernment and a strong will and shapes her own course, despite the restrictions put on her as a female.
Mr. Thomas Allworthy is the ideal Christian in the novel. He is a landowner, gentleman, and magistrate by virtue of his social position and is often called upon to settle disputes and decide people's fates under the law. For the most part he is merciful and judicious. His charity is well known, and he has been the benefactor of many. His fatal flaw is that he takes people at face value and doesn't see their trickery and lies. This causes him to inadvertently make unjust decisions that seriously affect the lives of a few hapless victims. However, he is able to correct these mistakes by the end of the novel.
Mr. Blifil is the chief villain of the novel. He is the son of Bridget Allworthy and Captain Blifil, and from childhood he displays unpleasant traits to the point where he is disliked by his own mother. He is a hypocrite and a liar who makes his way in the world by pretending to be a good Christian. He hates Tom Jones, although he keeps this fact hidden even from his brother, who loves him. Thus he spends a great deal of time secretly undermining Tom and turning people against him—especially his uncle, Mr. Allworthy. Blifil is also greedy, which is why he wants to marry Sophia—so that he can get Squire Western's property.
Squire Western is a comic figure and a foil for Mr. Allworthy. He also is landed gentry and has responsibilities as a magistrate, although he often allows himself to be ruled by Mr. Allworthy. He loves two things in life: Sophia and hunting, but maybe not in that order. Even so he treats his daughter as chattel, insisting she must marry Mr. Blifil even though she has a strong aversion to him. Squire Western dislikes women (except for his daughter) and continuously fights with his sister. He is also a drunkard and is foul-mouthed, often cursing women.
Mrs. Western is the rich, single sister of Squire Western. She has never married but has seen something of the world and even court life. However, she has not learned much from her experience and overestimates her ability to read people and understand social situations. She is exceedingly vain about everything concerning herself, including her appearance, and she is vindictive when crossed. Mrs. Western has had a hand in the rearing of Sophia, and she now insists her niece must marry for money.
Mr. Partridge is the unfortunate schoolmaster who is falsely accused by his wife of fathering the child called Tom Jones. As a result Mr. Allworthy takes away his annuity, and he loses his occupation as a teacher. Partridge is also a barber and a surgeon, so is able to survive. When he meets Tom Jones he attaches himself to him and becomes his companion and servant throughout his adventures. Partridge thinks he can use Tom to get back in Mr. Allworthy's good graces. Although Partridge means no harm, he has no prudence or discretion and ends up making a lot of problems for Tom on the road. He is also called Mr. Benjamin and Little Benjamin.