TOPIC : “Evaluation of Tom Jones as a
mock heroic epic.”
NAME : Italiya kinjal.B
ROLL NO: 02
SEM -1: M.A. PART-1
SUBMITTED TO: Mr. Jay Mehta.
Department of English, Bhavnagar University.
Evaluation of Tom Jones as a mock heroic epic:-
Tom Jones is a comic epic in prose and it is not. It is a comic epic in prose by virtue of its classical approach ,its width and rambling narration, and it is not because it has a secret, as pointed out by a critic, and epic has no secret. But let us examine Tom Jones as ‘comic epic in prose’.
Enjoying the freedom of an artist he burst on the literary scene giving thousands of hours for writing the epic called Tom Jones. The bulk of the novel is a challenge to an epic. We cannot possibly call pride and prejudice or great Expectations an epic because of their concentrated action and small area of movement, where as Tom Jones moves on rambling to any distance. An epic is an honest narrative with a plain design where in the characters assert their personality with a moral ardour.The writer of an epic is not much of an artist I the sense that he neither hides facts nor knith surprising situations .He overawes a reader by virtue of certain classical heaviness, and we are made to applaud the hero or the heroine for their sacrifice or sum extraordinary performances. Fielding does not attempt Tom Jones in the pure style of an epic. He makes the novel a crossbred genre of writing in which we find the width of an epic and the cunning of a novelist. It is not a pure epic thought it has the appearances and the design of its style.
Fielding in his book II ch-I of Tom Jones declares about the approach in writing the novel in the following words:”I am in reality the founder of a new province of writing, so I am at liberty to make laws I please therein.”The writer is certainly at liberty to enjoy a unique freedom and this freedom has been employed profitably for giving us a novel with all semblance of an epic. The movement of the novel has the speed of an epic. The story goes on revealing new facts; the incidents many and varied come and go. But Tom Jones is something even greater than an epic in the sense it knits plot on the basis of novel as such the novel eludes any classification. Roughly we may call it an epic or a novel bit actually it would be difficult to classify it under one single heading. We cannot possibly be precise about its nature. It is an amalgam of both deriving its matter and approach from both the novel and the epic.
An epic is not a history or a biography though it may well contain the life events of a memorable personage for all his heroism, but our Tom Jones his history a kind of fictitious biography of the most ‘un heroic hero’.He writes about the conception of history of a person the spinal chord of the novel in the following manner :”such histories as these do in reality very much resemble a newspaper which consists of just the same number of words….they may likewise be compared to a stage coach which performs constantly the same course empty as well as full”.(Book II ch I Tom jone)
Fielding’s accent on the ‘history’ of Tom Jones makes this works of art veer from the epic proper, but luckily at the same time the atmosphere a commons of social life, he builds about the novel is obviously analogs analogous to that of an epic. The biography of a fictitious person is placed in the social orbit of a classical design where in his movement and sections take place. But Tom Jones UN like the hero of an epic has not been idealizes. He is of an ‘average’ type and thus he most shares the limitations of an ordinary mortal. He despot appears on the scene with fan fare of glory or in any impressive manner. He happens to be an illegitimately begotten brute a foundling discovered in the bed of Mr.Allworthy.The conception of an epic is different. It is a different story altogether if he comes before us as a tragic hero suffering in the life but he has all the dignity of a man. But the fielding reverses he position though not in the case of the heroine called Sophia. The unheroic hero appears on the scene with all his social indignity and the heroine no doubt appears with an ‘Elevation of stile’. Since it is a comic epic such a hero may be allowed to past as such.
Tom Jones is a comic epic indeed by virtue of the humorous situations and humorous characters. In this epic thought beforehand to introduce a considerable character on the scene (book IV ch-I).”Thus the hero is always introduce with a flourish of drums and trumpets…our intention in short is to introduce our heroine with the utmost solemnity in our power with a an elevation of stile”. But the hero passes through such situations which excite us and often set us rolling with laughter. This mock epic lifts characters bodily from life and though the narrative is in a lighter vein unlike an epic of a serious nature the points of virtue brought home.
Tom Jones is an epic of human nature written in a comic style.”Man therefore is the highest subject which presents itself to the pen of our historian or of our poet”. Fielding in this so called epic comes to dwell upon human nature what pertains to a man on this planet. He of court inter priest life through medium of humour.Tom Jones may not be ideal from the point of view of the orthodox opinion because of the aberrations but as an average being he represents all that is good in a man particularly from the point of view of magnanimity. There is an unconventional accent upon human goodness in the novel which is different from the pure ideals of epic. An epic is a tell of human virtue and so is Tom Jones but in it virtue becomes as it were an object of sight.
The study of human nature is superb in this novel written after the style of an epic. Fielding has a clear cut idea about it. He writes in his book I ch-I of Tom Jones in the following words:”The provision then which we have tear made is no other then human nature…That in human nature though here collected under one comparatively smaller scope for dwelling on human nature than the epic. The latter happens to be a sizable work therefore it offers a more comprehensive scope for it.
But the accent on human nature is not the primary consideration in an epic. It mostly deals with the glorification of a hero and shows a tendency of selection the part which elevates the character in our esteem. There is hardly any approach to the psychological depth in it. In Tom Jones the writer probes deep into a human character in ‘dressing up’ with a consummate ‘author’s skill.’
To sum up Tom Jones is partly an epic and partly a novel. It exhibits a cross-bred style in which we find the fusion of two. It is no doubt a comic epic in prose by virtue of its humorous approach. The tone of the novel is suggestive of a light manner but it carries heavy message like that an epic. This is not an epic of a conventional type as fielding veers, being the founder of s new province of writing to incorporate what is germane to the writing of a novel. He covers a double ground. The novel has all the dimensions of an epic, but the way in which he treats the story is that of a novelist. An epic happens to be artlessly simples in approach though heavy in its classical appeal but Tom Jones is not artlessly simple. The undercurrents and the art which he employs with the cunning of a novelist make him deviate from the writing of the epic. It has the pretensions of an epic by virtue of its width but not by virtue of the transcription of life to the pages of the book and its psychological depth. As such Tom Jones eludes all classifications and it does not come precisely under any head. It is partly a novel and partly an epic. A serious attempt though a comic medium has been made by him to depict true nature and in an epic there is invariably an accent upon the glorification of a hero. The position of the unheroic here in the book forfeits the claim of its being called an epic