This is the third month of the Classics Challenge, hosted by Katherine at November's Autumn. The prompt this round involves the setting, with questions like "How has the author introduced the setting?" or "If this particular setting was changed how would it affect the course of the story?"
I am just over half-way through Tom Jones. As I mentioned elsewhere, when I found myself starting to count the pages left to read, I decided to take a break from it. But I do want to get back to it, and I'm hoping that writing about it will remind me what a great, entertaining book it is, and get me reading it again.
The setting of this story shifts constantly, as it follows different characters. Though Fielding will sometimes describe a setting in some detail, he seems much less interested in his settings than in the characters who inhabit them. Fielding spends most of the second chapter in Book I introducing us to the wise, noble and fatherly Squire Allworthy, who discovers the infant Tom Jones in his own bed. His house in Somerset, where much of the early action takes place, is described in greater detail than any other setting, but only from the outside:
"The Gothic style of building could produce nothing nobler than Mr Allworthy's house. There was an air of grandeur in it that struck you with awe . . . It stood on the south-east side of a hill . . . In the midst of the grove was a fine lawn, sloping down towards the house, near the summit of which rose a plentiful spring . . . The left-hand scene presented the view of a very fine park . . ."The story soon moves to a village where Tom's mother Jenny Jones lived prior to Tom's birth, then back to Mr Allworthy's house. Next it shifts to the house of the neighboring Squire Western, where we learn much more about him and his daughter Sophia than about the house, though Tom is actually in residence there for some time. When a misunderstanding with Mr Allworthy, and a conflict with Squire Western, force Tom to leave his home, to make his own way in the world, the story takes a picaresque turn as he decides to follow the drum as a soldier. Traveling north to fight against the Jacobins, he meets various adventures with a large and colorful cast of characters. Here again the characters and the action are the focus of the different episodes, rather than the settings. I see from the next book that Tom is headed to London. It will be interesting to see what Fielding makes of that setting. In Daniel Defoe's Moll Flanders, his detailed descriptions of the areas where Moll lived and worked made me feel like I was following her through the streets.