Table of Contents | Message Board | Printable Version
This is none other than Tom Jones himself. He is found as a little baby in Squire Allworthy's home, abandoned by his mother Tom Jones is adopted by the benevolent and gentle Squire. As he grows up, Tom falls in love with Sophia Western, a local landowner's daughter. But, Sophia is paired with the villainous Blifil who intrigues to get his rival banished. Tom takes to the road on a picaresque journey through 18 th C England, while Sophia attempts to flee a marriage with a man she detests. Their paths cross and uncross as they encounter misunderstandings and misadventures. The novel is basically Tom's story - how he meets a large variety of people. He is a believable hero. While he has many positive qualities, he is not perfect and has many failings too.
There is no one particular antagonist in the story. The protagonist - Tom Jones struggles against antagonistic situations such as the treachery of Master Blifil. Tom Jones faces antagonism since his birth. Without any fault of his, he is openly called a bastard. No one knows who his real parents are. He carries this stigma with him despite the fact that the benevolent and respectable Squire Allworthy adopts him. He is very attractive to women and gets carried away with them because of his compassionate nature. So he lands up in sticky situations often. These amorous pitfalls can be considered antagonistic as they keep him away from his real love - Sophia Western.
Certain circumstances or merely bad luck prove to be antagonistic too. Since he is a foundling, Squire Western does not consider him a worthy match for his daughter - Sophia. One can say that in contrast to Tom's innocence, it is the treacherous ways of the world that are antagonistic to him. The redeeming fact is that he manages to overcome such antagonisms to become a successful protagonist.
The story climaxes when Tom Jones is in jail because of his bloody fight with Mr. Fitzpatrick. Mr. Fitzpatrick had entertained suspicions of an affair between Tom Jones and his wife since his arrival at Upton Inn. When he comes to meet his wife at London, he sees Tom walking out of the house. This raises Mr. Fitzpatrick's suspicions and he attacks Tom. The latter defends himself with gusto, and Mr. Fitzpatrick is terribly wounded in the process. This wound is stated to be mortal by the surgeon and on this account, Tom is to be tried on the charge of murder. While Tom is helpless in jail, other complications arise. A major tension point is reached when Partridge tells Tom that he is guilty of incest and that Mrs. Waters is his mother. Tom is thoroughly vexed at the thought of his short affair with a lady who is supposed to be his own mother. He damns himself for his many follies.
At the same time, Sophia is made to read a letter that Tom had written to Lady Bellaston. Sophia is shocked to read his proposal of marriage to the Lady and resolves to denounce Tom. Thus, Tom's miseries are doubled and he abandons all hope. This is a climactic situation and an equally vexing one to Tom, as well as Sophia. This young lady has problems of her own. While on one hand she is being forced by her father to marry Blifil, on the other hand - her aunt, Lady Western fights with her. Aunt Western wants that Sophia must pay attention to Lord Fellamar's courtship and proposal of marriage. Apart from the pressure from her elders, Sophia is heart broken that Tom has not been loyal to her.
Thus, the confusion of the two major protagonists together forms the climax. Tom is jailed just as the other major players in this history too appear in London. Squire Western is here to force his daughter into marriage, Squire Allworthy too is here to see that the matter between Blifil and Sophia reaches a favorable conclusion. Mrs. Miller in the meanwhile persuades Squire Allworthy to see Tom in a more favorable and justly deserved light. Thus, all these factors combine to form the tangled climax, with the danger of Tom being tried for murder being the most pressing concern. We all wait to know whether Mr. Fitzpatrick will stay alive and if he does not, Tom will be in serious trouble and likely to be hanged himself.