Tom Jones as Fielding's Version of Human Comedy

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      Tom Jones conformation Fielding's theory of the novel as a "comic epic in prose".

      Human nature is the subject and the aim is to ridicule the follies and vices arising from vanity and affectation.

      There is plenty of ridiculous nature in real life; therefore there is no need to deviate from nature, according to Fielding. Typical of comic art, characters are drawn from ordinary ranks of society and have inferior manners.

      The wide range of characters and incidents are treated in the comic style. Ironic spirit plays upon potentially serious or moral matters to turn it into rich comedy. Mrs. Wilkins's mean-spiritedness, for instance, is made to appear ridiculous instead of disgusting when she reacts to the finding of Tom as a baby.

      Characters are given comic treatment so that each one's folly stands out in an absurd light, the inhuman and the monstrous is suddenly seen as funny.

      Irony, humour and satire play upon the characters and reveal the follies of society and humanity, in general. No character escapes Fielding's irony—not even Sophia or Tom.

      The picaresque mode helps Fielding to paint and satirise contemporary social manners on a large scale. Lawyers, doctors, landlords, landladies, country squires, society ladies and housekeepers or chambermaids — all sections of society are portrayed and their typical follies highlighted and ridiculed.

      Fashionable London society as well as life in the countryside are comically treated, for human nature is, more or less, the same everywhere and at all times. But satire is more pungent on town society which is more deeply entrenched in affectation and hypocrisy.

      Suspense is "comic" and the serious element is never allowed to overwhelm at any particular moment. Hints of tragedy (Tom's imprisonment or the 'Nancy-Nightingale' episode are more than countered by scenes of comic gaiety. Further, there is a feeling that all will end well.

      Comic devices such as mock-heroic style, situational comedy, and farce contribute to comic effect.

      Comic element has an artistic purpose—that of deflating certain kinds of pretentiousness in society and showing up the basic similarity between high class and low class. Thus the comic genius is closely aligned with the moral purpose.

      Comic curve of the plot, i.e., ending in happiness for hero and heroine, is always kept in mind.

      Above all, Fielding's comic vision of human life is shown in his firm confidence in human nature. He is fully aware of its shortcomings but is confident that humane feeling and right reason can solve social problems. Fielding's attitude of mind—curious about life, indignant about some of its aspects, but never incurably hurt by it—informs Tom Jones and makes it a "human comedy".

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