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Tom Jones, a Foundling, The History of.

Tom Jones, a Foundling, The History of

(1749) A novel by Henry Fielding, generally considered one of the masterpieces of English literature. Squire Allworthy, who lives with his sister Bridget, returns home after a long absence to find an infant on his bed. Suspecting his servant Jenny Jones to be the mother, he names the baby Tom Jones, determines to rear him himself, and Jenny leaves town. Soon after, Bridget marries Captain Blifil, a fortune - hunter; they have a son, and Captain Blifil dies. Tom and young Blifil are raised together, taught by Square and Thwackum. Blifil, a malevolent boy, seizes every opportunity to misrepresent Tom and get him into trouble. Tom is a lusty, imprudent boy, but essentially benevolent. A rivalry over the attentions of Sophia Western, daughter of the neighboring Squire Western, arises between them. Because of an affair with the gamekeeper's daughter and because of Blifil's treachery, Tom is sent packing by Squire Allworthy. In the picaresque section that follows, Tom meets with many adventures, some of them of a dissipated nature, on the road to London. Sophia, in the meantime, flees to London to escape the marriage which her father is trying to force with Blifil, who is interested only in her fortune. Soon the whole cast of characters is on the scene; Jenny Jones turns up to reveal that Squire Allworthy's sister Bridget, not she, is the mother of Tom. Blifil's cruelties to Tom over the years are exposed. Tom, promising to mend his ways, marries Sophia, and becomes the heir of Squire Allworthy. As a hero, Tom Jones is not overly heroic; he is perhaps a model of generosity and manly spirit, but mixed with dissipation. Lord Byron called him " an accomplished blackguard. "

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Publication:Benet's Reader's Encyclopedia, 3rd ed.
Article Type:Reference Source
Date:Jan 1, 1987
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