Tom Jones Questions and Answers
by Henry Fielding

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Discuss the use of satire in Henry Fielding's novel Tom Jones. 

Fielding uses satire in Tom Jones to avoid preaching about people's flaws and immorality. He uses satire to keep the reader entertained and to make his message more relatable. Tom has both good and evil traits and frequently yields to temptation. Fielding ironically says "bad as he is, [Tom] must serve for the hero of this history." Yet Tom remains a likable character because of Fielding's use of satire rather than outright lecture.

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Satire uses humor to poke fun at human and societal weaknesses. It can be very dark, as in Swift's "A Modest Proposal," but also light-hearted. Fielding chooses the light-hearted path in this novel.

For example, though title character Tom Jones has both good and bad traits, we like him because the traits in him that are satirized have a forgivable quality.

For instance, Tom is the ultimate party animal: he loves drinking, good times, and women. He is outgoing, sometimes a bit arrogant, and yet always open-hearted. In fact, he gets himself into trouble because he is so uncalculating in his self-presentation, not realizing how his behavior can and will be twisted by unscrupulous people.

For example, we can't help but sympathize with Tom when, though he does overindulge in drink and partying, he does it to celebrate Squire Allworthy winning out against death—and we feel more on Tom's side when Blifil unfairly twists this goodwill to Squire Allworthy so that the squire kicks Tom out of the...

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