Tom Jones Analysis
by Henry Fielding

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Places Discussed

(Critical Guide to Settings and Places in Literature)

Paradise Hall

Paradise Hall. Estate of Squire Allworthy in Glastonbury in southwestern England’s county of Somersetshire. Allworthy’s estate borders that of Squire Western. Paradise Hall is just that, an Eden from which Tom Jones, Allworthy’s good-natured ward (later discovered to be his elder nephew), is banished due to his lack of prudence and the conniving of Blifil, Allworthy’s younger nephew. Paradise Hall is the allusive setting for Cain versus Abel and Devil versus Adam parallels in Blifil and Tom.

Western’s estate

Western’s estate. Home of Squire Western and his daughter Sophia. This estate is characterized by hunting, heavy drinking, singing, and an absolutist but loving father. Each estate symbolizes a political opposite: Allworthy is a sober and refined Whig; Western is a sports-loving and rough-edged Tory. Western England was dominated by Tories in the eighteenth century, hence the symbolism of the squire’s name.

Little Baddington

Little Baddington. Village that is the center of petty jealousies, vicious gossip, and a mock-epic battle. In the village the house of Partridge, the schoolmaster, and his shrewish wife extend the marriage theme. The cottage of “Black” George Seagrim, the gamekeeper, appropriately is a trap for both Tom and his hypocritical tutor, Mr. Square, caught there by the wiles of the wanton Molly, George’s daughter. The houses frame recurring types of the family theme in different social classes: contrasting parents, upbringings, siblings, courtships, and marriages.

*Salisbury

*Salisbury. Cathedral town where Squire Allworthy’s sister dies and from which she sends a letter, intercepted and hidden by Blifil, to her brother that Tom is her son, not an orphan.

Inns and taverns

Inns and taverns. Accenting the novel’s realism is the passage of the three groups through many real places on their chases to London. Among them are Wells, Coventry, Daventry, Stony Stratford, Dunstable, and Barnet. However, it is the inns and alehouses along the way that serve the novel materially. They dramatize a hospitality theme, satirize dishonest landlords and their marriages, introduce strangers whose stories deepen the courtship, marriage, and family themes, and bring complications to the plot that unravel only at its end. These places are at Hambrook, Cambridge (in Gloucestershire, not the university town), Worcester, Gloucester, Meriden, and St. Alban’s.

Upton

Upton. Village in which the paths of the three chases finally meet. In a hilarious scene at the town’s White Lion Inn, Tom is seduced; Sophia, arriving later learns about Tom’s indiscretion and leaves angrily. Squire Western then storms in, too late to capture Sophia, while Mr. Fitzpatrick storms in, too late to capture his runaway wife, Sophia’s cousin.

Countryside

Countryside. In addition to country inns, Fielding uses other places to accent his themes. For example, at a barn off the road between Meriden and Coventry, Tom and his companion Partridge encounter a band of gypsies whose society is a political satire on the Jacobite myth of the good life under an absolute monarchy. At the house of the Man of the Hill in the Malvern Mountains, Tom hears his cynical host’s life story, a parable of many of the novel’s themes: injudicious fathers, contrasting brothers, marriage, imprudent lives, selfishness, deceit, and misplaced charity. In the same way, Fielding cites the real country houses or estates of Esher, Stowe, Wilton, Eastbury, and Prior Park as examples of elegance to contrast with the more rustic estates of Devon, Dorset, Bagshot Heath, and Stockbridge. The architectural metaphor was a typical eighteenth century phrasing of the art versus nature theme personified in the artful conniving of Blifil and the natural good will of Tom.

*London

*London. Besides the Bull and Gate Coaching Inn in the neighborhood of Holburn where Tom spends his first night in London, other minor places add to the novel’s topographical and sociological realism....

(The entire section is 2,990 words.)