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. 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...

(The entire section is 957 words.)

Historical Context

(Novels for Students)

The Enlightenment
The Age of Enlightenment dawned in the late seventeenth century and strongly colored the entire eighteenth...

(The entire section is 772 words.)

Literary Style

(Novels for Students)

Epic, Picaresque, and Epistolary
Fielding melds elements of several traditional literary forms in Tom Jones. First, the...

(The entire section is 387 words.)

Compare and Contrast

(Novels for Students)

Mid-1700s: England is a largely agricultural nation and is making great advances in agricultural productivity. Farmers are discovering...

(The entire section is 285 words.)

Topics for Further Study

(Novels for Students)

Make a list of Tom’s virtues and vices. Do you think that virtue or vice is dominant in his character? Does this change in the course of...

(The entire section is 168 words.)

Media Adaptations

(Novels for Students)

Three film versions of Tom Jones have been made in Britain. A silent film made in 1917 was directed by Edwin J. Collins and starred...

(The entire section is 157 words.)

What Do I Read Next?

(Novels for Students)

Pamela (1740), by Samuel Richardson, is said to have been the first best-selling novel in history. It is the story of a virtuous...

(The entire section is 332 words.)

Bibliography and Further Reading

(Novels for Students)

Baker, Sheridan, ed., Tom Jones: A Norton Critical Edition, 2d ed., W. W. Norton, 1995, p. vii.


(The entire section is 210 words.)


(Great Characters in Literature)

Dircks, Richard J. Henry Fielding. Boston: Twayne, 1983. Offers a detailed reading of the novel and its moral structures. Examines plot and structure, themes, realism, digressions, the sentimental tradition, and the novel’s characterizations.

Irwin, Michael. Henry Fielding: The Tentative Realist. Oxford, England: Clarendon Press, 1967. Sees Fielding as a moralist who was intent on creating a new literature. In an analysis of the structure of Tom Jones, notes the didactic content of the novel’s themes. Discusses the limitations of Fielding’s characterizations.

Price, Martin. “The Subversion of Form.” In Henry Fielding’s Tom Jones, edited by Harold Bloom. New York: Chelsea House, 1987. Sees the joining of the naïve hero and the sophisticated narrator as a source of Fielding’s humor. The result is an ironic stance that pleasantly confuses the reader’s expectations.

Reilly, Patrick. “Tom Jones”: Adventure and Providence. Boston: Twayne, 1991. Most of this book is devoted to a reading of Tom Jones. Examines the work’s Christian comedy and its use of satire. Draws some contrasts with the work of Samuel Richardson and Jonathan Swift.

Watt, Ian. “Fielding as Novelist: Tom Jones.” In Henry Fielding’s Tom Jones, edited by Harold Bloom. New York: Chelsea House, 1987. Draws contrasts between Tom Jones and Samuel Richardson’s Clarissa. Notes Fielding’s comparatively superficial characterizations and his somewhat greater interest in plot.