Henry Fielding Questions and Answers

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Describe the narration in Tom Jones by Henry Fielding.

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Geneva Shackelford eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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To add to what has been said above, you should think of the narrator as his own character operating within the story and speaking directly to his audience. This narrator is not synonymous with Fielding himself; we should think of the author as separate from the persona of the narrator. Along the same lines, there is an "implied reader" that the narrator is speaking to that doesn't directly have to correlate with the real reader of the text. This narrative persona is most interesting in the small introductory chapters at the beginning of each book. In these chapters, the narrator steps away from the action of the novel and reflects/muses on what has come before or what is yet to come, making humorous philosophical and sweeping connections with the text. These chapters emphasize the distinct personality of the persona telling the story. As the answer above mentioned, the satirical style of the narrator is probably his most important feature, including his tendency to pass commentary and critique on the characters in the novel in a way that is meant to be funny.

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litteacher8 eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The narration in Tom Jones is satirical.  Satire is a type of playful, humorous criticism.  The fact that Fielding uses an omniscient narrator makes this possible.  The use of third person allows the narrator to not be part of the action.  Omniscience makes it possible for the narrator to know and describe everything that is going on.  This is how satire can be used.

Throughout the story, Fielding pinpoints social institutions and human behaviors to target.  He makes fun of the vanity and hypocrisy of his characters, using his omniscience to point out his opinions.  This is part of what makes the story funny and interesting, and why satire is still popular today.  Think of Tom Jones as the Saturday Night Live of Fielding’s day!


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