Tom Jones Questions and Answers
by Henry Fielding

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"Fielding depicts varieties of female characters belonging to different strata of society in Tom Jones." Comment on this statement.

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Because Tom Jones himself is a foundling, he is a liminal character who is enacting self-fashioning through his encounters with people of various classes and situations in life. His interactions with these other characters serve as steps in his process of self-definition.

The first variation in types of female character is the urban versus rural divide. Many of the women in the novel live in the country and are either members of the gentry or domestic servants. Other women are encountered by Tom in London and range from tradespeople to servants.

English society at this period was highly stratified, with the nobility at the pinnacle of wealth and power and the gentry one rung below the nobility. Next were professionals, yeoman farmers, and tradespeople. Laborers, servants, and criminals were at the bottom of the pyramid.

Lady Bellaston is a member of the nobility. Among the members of the gentry portrayed in the novel are Bridget Allworthy, Mrs. Harriet Fitzpatrick, Mrs. Western, and Sophia...

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