In Tom Jones, Henry Fielding explores several themes related to morality in the British society of his day. As he addresses the relationship between virtue and vice through diverse characters, including Tom Jones himself, the author comments on the widespread hypocrisy that prevails in society. Redemption is a related theme shown by Tom's success in overcoming his shortcomings and setting himself upon a virtuous path.
The sustained virtue of Sophia makes her unusual within the novel as well as entitled to Tom’s love when he eventually shows himself worthy of her. Similarly, the virtue inherent in Squire Allworthy influences his kindness toward Tom. The temptations of vice are shown in Tom’s progress, as the young man must strive to overcome temptations as well as his apparent low birth and humble status.
The large gap between virtuous speech and immoral conduct is revealed by numerous aristocrats. Notably, Lord Fellamar and Mrs. Western manipulate Sophia and try to force her into marriage and sexual relations. The superficial morality of Master Blifil is undercut by his constant lying in trying to ruin Tom. Fielding is especially harsh on the hypocrites who have a religious calling. Reverend Thwackum espouses Christian virtue even as he physically abuse his students.
Although at times Tom seems destined for ruin, it is revealed that many of his questionable choices had been responses to others’ schemes against him. His fundamentally good character and the positive influences of Allworthy’s mentoring and Sophia’s love help him to turn the corner.