Virtue and Vice
The overarching theme of Tom Jones is virtue and vice. The highlighted virtue is prudence, and the featured vices are hypocrisy and vanity.
Prudence, one of the time-honored cardinal virtues of Western culture, essentially means thinking ahead, considering the likely consequences of one’s actions, and acting accordingly. The failure to do this is Tom’s downfall over and over, until the very end of the story. Although Tom has many virtues—he is kind, good-hearted, generous, brave, loyal, and forgiving—his lack of prudence gives his...
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