Tom Jones, a foundling. Although he is befriended by his foster father, Squire Allworthy, Tom encounters many vicissitudes, some of them of his own making, for he is a somewhat wild and foolish, though good-hearted, young man. His wild ways, exaggerated by enemies, including Master Blifil, cause Tom to be cast off by Squire Allworthy. After Tom’s goodness and virtue eventually triumph over disastrous circumstances, the young man is reconciled with the squire and, even more important, with Sophia Western, the beautiful and virtuous woman he loves. He is acknowledged as the squire’s nephew when the secret of his real parentage becomes known.
Squire Allworthy, an extremely just and virtuous country gentleman who becomes Tom’s foster father after the infant is discovered in the squire’s bed. Tom’s enemies play upon the squire’s gullibility, for Allworthy, like many another honest man, finds it difficult to believe that there is dishonesty in other people. Eventually, he sees Tom’s essential goodness, receives him as his nephew, and makes the young man his heir.
Sophia Western, the virtuous daughter of a domineering country squire. She loves Tom, even to facing down her father and aunt when they try to marry her off to Master Blifil and Lord Fellamar. Although she loves Tom, she is disappointed by his escapades, particularly those of an amorous nature, and until she is convinced that he can be a faithful husband, she refuses to accept his suit.
Squire Western, Sophia’s domineering, profane father, who loves his hounds, his horses, and his bottle almost as much as his only child. When he insists on forcing her to marry Master Blifil, the husband of his choice, Sophia is forced into running away from home, placing herself and her virtue in the path of adventure and danger. The squire, though uncouth, is a good man at heart. Both he and Squire Allworthy are exceptionally well-drawn characters.
Master Blifil, the villainous son of the squire’s sister, Bridget. A great hypocrite, he hides his villainy under a cloak of seeming honesty and virtue. He plays false witness against Tom many times. He becomes Sophia Western’s suitor only because he wants her money and hates Tom, the man she loves. His villainy is done in the face of his knowing that Tom is really an older half brother, not a foundling.
Bridget Blifil, Squire Allworthy’s seemingly virtuous sister. She bears Tom out of wedlock and lets him become a foundling. Later, she marries and has another son, Master Blifil. On her deathbed, she sends to her brother a letter telling the story of Tom’s parentage. The letter is stolen and concealed by her legitimate son.
Captain Blifil, Bridget’s husband, who marries her for her money. He dies of apoplexy, however, before he can enjoy any of it.
Mr. Partridge, a schoolteacher and barber-surgeon. Long Tom’s loyal, if loquacious, companion, he is for many years suspected of being Tom’s father.
Jenny Jones, later Mrs. Waters. As a maid in Mr. Partridge’s house, she is accused of being Tom’s mother, and her surname is given to him. As Mrs. Waters, she has a brief love affair with Tom, much to the horror of some of his acquaintances, who believe that the supposed mother and son have committed incest. Through her testimony, the identity of Tom’s real mother becomes known.
Mr. Dowling, a not-so-honest lawyer. Through his testimony, Tom’s identity is proved, as he corroborates Jenny Jones’s statements. He keeps the secret for many years, thinking that he is following Mr. Allworthy’s wishes.
Black George Seagrim
Black George Seagrim, so called because of his extremely black beard, a rustic and poacher. Although he is befriended by Tom, he steals from the young man and plays him ill turns.
Molly Seagrim, a young woman of easy virtue, Black George’s daughter. Tom’s escapades with...
(The entire section is 3,718 words.)