English Literature I
The formal well-organized structure of The History of Tom Jones contributes greatly to the intricate plot inside, and the novel as an overall piece of work. Henry Fielding contrived the blueprint of the book in its many clearly separated segments extremely well, making it equally as important as the plot. Tom Jones is deliberately and clearly divided into its separate parts. Through these parts he is capable of paralleling two types of stories in one single novel, along with bringing forth symmetries and balances in the division, and in the setting and plot.
Broken down, Tom Jones consists of 18 books each introduced with an opening essay. This 18 book format imitates the standard form of an epic.
“Its 18 books-the total number alludes to the number of books in…a moralized continuation of Homer’s Odyssey, and thus marks Fielding’s novel, too, as a journey novel in the Odysseyan tradition-are arranged in a system of complex symmetries in accordance with ancient epic practice…” (Brooks-Davies).
These 18 books are then broken further into 3 sections to reflect the 3 major parts of Tom’s journey. This structure specifically allows for balance and symmetry to occur.
Reading through Tom Jones once, one draws lines between a few seemingly related details. Upon a closer examination, it is discovered that these relations are made
intentionally and purposefully. The 18 books are grouped into the 3 parts of the journey: the first grouping of 6 books take place at home in the country, the second grouping on the road, and the last grouping in London (Brooks-Davies). This setup or format allows for two forms of story to be brought into one genre. Tom Jones is generally regarded as a comedy, but inside of this it is also the standard epic journey novel and a romance at the same time.
First, we’ll look at Tom’s journey. It consists of 3 parts that correspond the 3 sections in the book. “…three sets of six books deal respectively with Tom’s upbringing in the country and expulsion by his Uncle Allworthy; his journey to London; and his experiences in London and return home,” (Brooks-Davies). The first part (Books I-VI) taking place at home in the country. This sets up the journey. Tom finds a home with Mr. Allworthy, grows up, and is banished from home. The second part (Books VII-XII) is the journey on the road. In this part, Tom sets off on his journey and there is no interaction with Mr. Allworthy. Finally, the last part (Books XIII-XVIII) is the journey home and reconciliation. Tom finds a home with Mrs. Miller; she then helps to reconcile him with Mr. Allworthy and Sophia. Tom then goes home to the country as a changed man and starts a family with Sophia.
Now, we’ll look at Tom Jones on the romance level. Again, it is regarded as one of the greatest comedy novels of all time, but it also contains the...