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MonkeyNotes-Tom Jones by Henry Fielding
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THEMES

Major

Contrasts in varieties of life.

Tom Jones like, Don Quixote is characterized by a systematic organization of contrasts. One attitude is played off against the other and one way of life is contrasted with the other. There is a constant detail of contrast in the character relationships, scene relationships and even verbal relationships. By this novel, the full and direct artistic impact of son Quixote is felt. Just as Cervantes Fielding uses the 'point of views' of the omniscient author. His world is populous and extensive in its spatial design. One character alone does not demand attention, the author's own humorous irony is itself one of the materials of the novel. In the 'head-chapters' a contrast is provided between intelligence focused 'on' the human situation he has created and the intelligence of the characters within the created situation.

Tom Jones, the central character is contrasted with Blifil. The wicked Blifil, is indeed Tom’s ‘opposite’ and the chief pause of his sorrows. Blifil provides the chief character contrast in the book. For while the curve of tragedy is spun from within the tragic protagonist, produced out of his own passions and frailties; the curve of comedy is spun socially and gregariously as the common product of men in society. Out of the gregarious action in Tom Jones, the conflict between hero and villain is propelled to a resolution.

In the end, the rogue who appeared to be a good man is exposed in his true nature as rogue, and the good man, who appeared to be a rogue is revealed in his true good nature. Other similar exposures of other characters happen towards the end.


The major contrast in Tom Jones - the novel is the conflict between natural, instinctive feeling and those appearances with which people disguise deny or inhibit natural feeling - intellectual theories, rigid moral dogmas, economic conveniences doctrines of social responsibility. This is the broad thematic contrast in Tom Jones. Form and instinctive feeling engage in constant eruptive combat. The battlefield is between with debris of ripped masks. It is shown in many occasions in Tom Jones that the animal or instinctive party of man is denied. Instead, a more formal appearance is adopted. The damaging uses of intelligence in human nature are depicted - in wicked Blifil's calculative shrewdness in Black George's rationalization for keeping Tom's money, in the absurd intellectual formulas, elaborated by Thwackum and Square. The disparaging effects can also, be seen in Allworthy's high minded ethics and in Tom's own idealism. In the other hand of intellectualized thoughts are the instinctive responses that are Tom's. Tom yields formidably and frequently to instinct, and in so doing, he exhibits the 'naturalness, and therefore the rightness of instinct as constituent of the personality. Thus, he corrects the overemphasis on formal appearances which we see in other characters. But at the same time, Tom Jones shows a remarkable absence of that useful social sense which we call desertion a lack of which is damaging certainly to himself and a cause of confusion to others. It is the incongruity between what a man might 'naturally' be and what he makes of himself by adopting a formulary appearance or mark, that gives ' human nature ' its variety and funniness and treacherousness.

Apart from the major contracts in characters, there are also prevalent many minor contrasts between what appearances are and what reality is. While Miss Brid get is the real mother of Blifil, this fact is hidden bill the very end. She is able to self righteously condemn the sexual indulgences of the lower classes, and at the same time preserve the fruit of her own indulgence. But finally we learn about the contrast between her appearance and her reality.

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