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M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The basic theme of Tom Jones is vanity versus virtue. Fielding has always been an admirer of characters which represent the true respectability, nobility, honor, and virtue that is often shown in the most admirable baroque novels and stories about courageous knights, powerful soldiers, and equally kind and loving kings and princes. Tom Jones was a foundling. Fielding, as a social reformer of his generation, bestowed upon what would have been considered a "wretched bastard" back in the 18th century, the qualities and characteristics of a well-born man, and he also framed the character with the love and compassion that he felt these people deserved. Hence virtue is the most important element of the character of Tom Jones for these very reasons.