Tom Jones by Henry Fielding is ‘Bildungsroman’ and picaresque novel, because it shows a young protagonist Tom’s journey from childhood to adulthood, with a focus on the trials and misfortunes which affect his life’s growth throughout the novel.
To narrate is to tell, In Tom Jones, Fielding plays an important role as a narrator who not only narrates but know and control the action in the novel. Fielding as narrator steps forward to put across a view and to allow his narrator to comment on questions and issues as also to change the perception of characters at crucial junctures.
In the novel Tom Jones, there is a kind of omnipotence in the narrator. The narrator can do whatever he wants for example; he gives a specific direction to course of events and influence the decision of characters. He can also defend his actions with the force of argument.
Normally, the author is himself plays the role of narrator. However, the readers come across many authorial comments that they have to accept as readers.
Further, the narrator seems to be not in the sense that he narrates a saga but he creates a saga after his own liking and judgment, and narrates it in the very process of creating it. This seems to be happened because the history called Tom Jones, has been conceived in the broadest possible comic mould- a serious analyst and commentator wearing comic mask has taken upon himself to create a ‘history’.
Also, those who see the narrator as the author himself, would face the difficulty of proving that the whole situation or unfolded ‘drama’ in the novel can be no more than an extension of fielding’s consciousness. Yes, in the absolute sense, the serious- comic narrator has been conceived and created by the author but once that has taken place, the narrator has begun influencing and determining the course of happenings unrestrained by the author.
Simply, if readers do not accept the concrete existence of the narrator/s in Tom Jones, it would be hard to put comprehend those points in the novel’s progress where things stop ‘moving’, that means, wherever this happens the narrator butts into not merely explaining many things but invents argument, situation, chance, happenings and even total reversal of fortune.
However, the narrator never fights shy of taking the blame for such intervention and braving moves on to tell unbelievable things. Moreover, most of the voices are masks, in either case, Fielding the author seems to watch helplessly the movements of action.
Every character in the novel (men or women) have freedom to move about freely, but only under the critical gaze of the author/narrator.
Therefore, not only that the narrator gives the impression that he is on a mission to establish a positive principal in society and stakes his all for the furtherance of that principal i.e. virtue and religion. (virtue and religion are projected, invariably satirically)
The important of a narrator hence, is contrast, he believes constantly breaking the reader’s concentration telling them again and again at regular intervals, that what is being read is a novel in which all happenings are unreal, imaginary, fictional and that they are open to a variety of interpretations even within the novel. The author of such novel believes that in the presented account there are truths- no single over bearing, all determining truth, Tom Jones is an example of this kind of novel.
There are two prominent and distinct aspects of narration which is used in the novel and i.e.
- When audience are under the arrangement of gathering and facing narrator has its own set of preferences, expectations and aspirations.
The narrator is therefore, keeps a close watch on the way that how the audience would react to the different comments in the novel. Like; the way in which the reader would consciously or unconsciously construct the meaning of the narration. This is how the audience is involved by the narrator, as if under a plan to act out an imaginary situation in which the role of narrator is directional or directorial. It is difficult thing for a narrator to do.
- The second aspect of the narrative relates away from the nature of the audience to be the person of the narrator is his mental make-up, imaginary/imaginative capability as well as purpose. This mean that not everybody, even when she or he has the required mental make-up, sensibility and value system, can be a narrator that not everybody can state through the spoken or written word that which would relate to the group of people whom the moral teacher is to guide.
Particularly, the imaginative capability of the narrator has to be the dramatic kind under which the teller of the tale extends the scope of feeling as well as thought to variety of characters, men and women constituting the tale. Therefore, a person having the skills of an actor using a monologue would be a competent narrator. This capability of the narrator invariably alert and disturb the audience, because the effective communicative experience the narrator has, should be morally accepted.
Therefore, the importance of narrator in Tom Jones is like a conscious member of society, who fulfills the specific purpose of the enlightening and educating his audience as his own community.