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By barile m. Draz m. D'epiro R.

Henry Fielding




historical context


literary style




tom jones






Henry Fielding was born near Glastonbury,Somerset in 1707.


Henry Fielding


In 1740 he became a lawyer and in the following years started to write novels.


In 1749 he was appointed police magistrate for London. In 1753 he resigned as a magistrate ad tried to restore his healt which was clearly deteriorating.



Before studying law at the University of Leyden, he had already started writing plays for a living. He wrote plays between 1727 and 1737

In 1754 he left England for Portugal but he died there only two months after his arrival. He was buried in the English cemetery of Lisbon

Historical context

Between 1721 and 1742 the figure of the Prime Minister began to acquire great relevance. Since George I could not speak English, he gave his ministers great autonomy.The function of the king, then, was basically that of signing decisions already taken by the ministers. In this period Fielding wrote his last play: The Golden Rump. In it, Fielding ironically attacks Robert Walpole, the English Prime Minister, 1and his corrupt government, who had introduced the Licensing Act, a form of censorship. This Act marked the end of hiscareer as playwright.

Henry Fielding

Literary style

Picaresque style:


This genre originated in Spain and narrated the adventures of low-class characters who succeed in living through their cleverness. The protagonist usually finds himself involved in different adventures among people of a higher class, who belong to a corrupt society, and he has to rely only on his wits and, sometimes, on dishonesty to survive.

It is a literary genre in which the grandiose manners of ancient epics are exploited to narrate ridiculous, futile everyday events. The result is a humourous tone, which aims either at ridiculing people's hypocrisy and arrogance or at presenting characters in a humorous way.

Henry Fielding


An apology for the life of Mrs Shamela Andrews

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The history of the adventures ofJoseph Andrews and of his friend Abraham Adams

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The life of Mr Jonathan Wild the Great

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Henry Fielding

Tom Jones

The history of Tom Jones, a Foundling (1749), his most famous novel, tells the picaresque adventures of a foundling. When the work was published,it was very successful for the times.


Fielding was both a classicist and a moralist. He would entertaining and teaching. In his novels, through the use of irony, Fielding criticised the vices of his age like vanity, falseness and deceit. However, unlike Richardson, he showed a tendency to forgive. He reveals a charitable attitude towards his characters.

Henry Fielding


  • He is surrounded by dishonest people because of whom he must first give up his love for Sophia and then Tom is forced to flee due to a deception

Henry Fielding

  • Tom Jones is a foundling adopted by Mr. Allworthy

  • the picaresque adventure begins

  • the story ends with the discovery of the truth and the marriage between Tom and Sophia

Did you know?

Together with is brother John he contributed to create the first police force in London, the Bow Street Runners, which would later become Scotland Yard.

The character of Sophia Western is based on Fielding's wife, Charlotte, who died of a fever in 1744

Fielding was a great admirer of Miguel Cervantes, in fact the adventures of Tom resemble those of Don quixote and Sancho Panza

The plot of Tom Jones was also inspired by Ludovico Ariosto. The resumption of the chase between Tom and Sophia is certain reminiscent of that between Orlando and Angelica

Henry Fielding

Henry Fielding

thanks for your attention


Henry Fielding








The life of Mr Jonathan Wild the great:

This novel(1743) is the story of a famous criminal who was hanged in 1725, and had already appeared in English literature with Defoe. Unlike Defoe, however, Fielding uses Jonathan Wild as a symbol for corruption, and his novel functions as satirical attack on the politicians of the times.

Joseph Andrews:

Fielding tells the story of Shamela's brother, once again with the aim of ridiculling Richardson's Pamela. To run away from the insistent and embarrassing attentions of his mistress, Joseph leaves for a long and adventurous trip around England. In the title page of this picaresque work, the author declares that it was 'written in imitation of the manner of Cervantes, author of Don Quixote', and in the Preface he defines it as a comic epic poem prose.


"Pamela" by Samuel Richardson immediately became a true cult book for the small and middle class, the subject of public readings. "Shamela" is a biting parody of it. Fielding transformed the modest and trepid Pamela into a brazen and aggressive Shamela, ready to do anything to make her social climb.