Fielding's Education of Readers in "Tom Jones," Part Three

After establishing his credentials as an historian, the narrator proceeds to listing the vital to jot down such histories as his within the introductory chapter to Guide IX. Starting with Tom Jones , Fielding "begins to coach the general public in regards to the craft of writing a novel moderately than merely attacking one which he deems unhealthy" (Slagle 191).

The qualities Fielding cites as "essential to this order of historians" are (1) Genius, (2) Studying, (three) Dialog, and (four) a Good Coronary heart (Fielding 424-26). Genius consists of invention ("discovery or discovering out"), and judgment (Fielding 424). This qualification expands on the concept one mustn’t decide somebody with out having true information of all of the circumstances surrounding the motion, and the underlying motives. This admonition to the reader is displayed in Bliful; on the floor, his actions appear selfless and honorable nearly all of the time. However the narrator lets the reader into the key of Bliful's motives and so one sees that he’s not selfless and honorable, however malicious and jealous. And so we’re warned to not decide folks by their appearances solely.

Studying is, naturally, the kind one obtains by means of books and formal schooling. Dialog is studying of human nature, in all its varieties.

So vital is that this to the understanding the characters of males, that none are extra unaware of them than these realized pedants whose lives have been solely consumed in schools and amongst books; for nevertheless exquisitely human nature might have been described by writers, the true sensible system could be learnt solely on this planet. (Fielding 425)

This commentary goes to additional present that appearances can not all the time be counted on as a information to at least one's character. It’s only by means of in depth dialog that folks will reveal their true identities. However one should have the mandatory sagacity to have the ability to discern the undercurrents current in folks conversations.

The fourth requisite, a Good Coronary heart, is, merely put, empathy in the direction of others. Fielding clearly proves, along with his narrative commentary, that one should be capable to put oneself within the different's place earlier than making an attempt to go judgment on their actions. Additionally by this qualification, Fielding "invitations us to enlarge the boundaries of our sympathy, in order to incorporate the ridiculous" (Wright 42). Fielding, within the foregoing chapters, has steered readers into sympathizing with folks struggling misfortune, and now begins to show us easy methods to empathize with characters which are plainly comedian (like Partridge). We don’t sympathize with Partridge due to the misfortunes in his life, moderately we’re drawn to snort at his absurdities and can’t assist having a secret liking for him. Tom is properly conscious of Partridge's comedian standing, as indicated by taking him to see Hamlet in order to be amused by his reactions to it (Fielding 752).

Along with setting down for writers of histories, Fielding elaborates on a number of the stylistic methods that could be used and people who shouldn’t be used. These are quite a few, however solely three will likely be mentioned right here: the "marvelous," the "supernatural," and "plagiarism." Within the introduction to Guide VIII, Fielding units forth restrictions to writers as to using the 'marvelous' and the 'supernatural' (Fielding 346). First, he asserts writers should keep "throughout the bounds of risk" and "chance" (Fielding 346). Additionally, Fielding cautions writers to make use of ghosts, which is the "solely supernatural brokers … allowed to [] moderns" very sparingly (Fielding 347). It appears clear right here that Fielding is making an attempt to justify his coincidences that happen within the novel which will appear extraordinary to readers. He subsequently needs us to simply accept that these coincidences, as shocking as they could be, are within the realm of risk and chance.

This preface units the stage for the appearances of Partridge and the Man of the Hill, which do have a contact of the marvelous about them. Partridge is the person purported to be Tom's father, which he fervently denies to Tom, so Tom's assembly with him does appear moderately coincidental and compelled by the narrator. Partridge additionally brings the supernatural parts into the narrative, being extraordinarily superstitious and scared of ghosts, witches, and many others. Whereas Fielding by no means truly brings any ghosts into the narrative (except one counts the ghost in Hamlet ), he does cite them not directly by means of Partridge's worry of them. However that is almost certainly meant "to burlesque the superstitious religion" of Fielding's countrymen, because the narrator attributes to being the rationale for Homer's overuse of supernatural brokers (Fielding 347).

Partridge's excessive fears lead into the introduction of the Man of the Hill and his servant. Partridge is satisfied the servant is a witch, and the narrator admits that if the servant "had lived within the reign of James the First, her look alone would have hanged her, nearly with none proof" (Fielding 385). Likewise, the Man of the Hill terrifies him:

This particular person was of the tallest dimension, with a protracted beard as white as snow. His physique was clothed with the pores and skin of an ass, made one thing into the type of a coat. He wore likewise boots on his legs, and a cap on his head, each composed of the pores and skin of another animals. (Fielding 388)

The Man of the Hill chapter is integral to the plot of Tom Jones insofar that the narrator provides the reader an outline of a person who has turn into so solely disillusioned with human nature that he "cuts off all contact with" different folks, and so " deprive [s] himself of his personal humanity "(Mandel 29). This lack of humanity is exhibited by means of the way of his gown (animal skins). Manuel Schonhorn interprets the Man of the Hill episode as displaying distinction between him and Tom. The "Man of the Hill's imaginative and prescient of the depravity of man is countered successfully by Jones's religion within the fundamental decency of human nature" (Schonhorn 210). This chapter underlines the narrator's assertion that human nature can solely be discerned by means of dialog with every kind of individuals. The Man of the Hill erroneously judges all humankind by the traits he has noticed briefly conversations with only a few folks.

One other stylistic method that the narrator lectures writers and readers of historians about is borrowing phrases and phrases from different writers. He claims that every one moderns can cite the works of the ancients with no restrictions in any way: "the ancients could also be thought of as a wealthy frequent, the place each one that hath the smallest tenement in Parnassus hath a free proper to fatten his muse" (Fielding 540 ). However borrowing from different fashionable writers could be thought of plagiarism, so the narrator guarantees that if he does use the phrases of one other fashionable, he’ll "put their mark on it, that it might be always able to be restored to the proper proprietor (Fielding 541). As he does for them, so he expects them additionally to do likewise, viz. To offer credit score to him in the event that they use his phrases.

Fielding explains his motive for the dialogue of plagiarism as being in order that his "conduct" is not going to be "misunderstood by ignorance" or "misrepresented by malice" (Fielding 538). He maintains he doesn’t need his readers to misconceive him or misrepresent his phrases, however nonetheless Fielding intentionally makes an attempt to check the readers' sagacity by altering quotations barely, eg a citation of Pope's on web page 184 and a citation from Milton's Paradise Misplaced on web page 288 . Fielding additionally typically attributes quotations to an creator that in actuality belong to Fielding himself, reminiscent of when he says Virgil in contrast "the mob" to an "ass" (Fielding 558). These little methods of language that Fielding employs function a type of an 'in joke' for readers who’re sagacious sufficient to catch on to his hidden which means; Thus, one is induced to determine with the narrator. As soon as Fielding has captivated his readers by his narrative type, he begins displaying us easy methods to be 'sagacious readers.'


Fielding, Henry. Tom Jones. Oxford: Oxford College Press, 1996.

Mandel, Jerome. "The Man of the Hill and Mrs. Fitzpatrick: Character and Narrative Method in Tom Jones ." Papers on Language and Literature: A Journal for Students and Critics of Language and Literature 5 (1969): 26-38.

Schonhorn, Manuel. "Fielding's Digressive-Parodic Artistry: Tom Jones and The Man of the Hill." } Texas Research in Literature and Language: A Journal of the Humanities 10 (1968): 207-14.

Slagle, Judith Bailey and Robert Holtzclaw. "Narrative Voice and 'Refrain on the Stage' in Tom Jones ." The Cinema of Tony Richardson. Eds. James M. Welsh and John C. Tibbetts. Albany: State College of New York, 1999. 189-205.

Wright, Andrew. Henry Fielding: Masks and Feast . Berkeley: College of California Press, 1965.

Source by Mary Arnold