Book 3 Chapter 7 of Tom Jones.

This is part of an ongoing project in which I will record and post one chapter per week of Henry Fielding's Tom Jones over the course of four years.

So, this is something of a short chapter, but it hints at something that we heard a few chapters ago: that, despite all appearances to the contrary, Mr. Allworthy doesn't have a faultless character. Here we see that he is sometimes blinded by his own compassion, viz his favoring Blifil over Tom because his sister, the Widow Blifil hates the former and loves the latter.

This chapter also contains the novel's most concise and blunt statement of its moral: "It is not enough that your designs, nay, that your actions, are intrinsically good; you must take care they shall appear so." The way Fielding gets this across is interesting in and of itself, in that he addresses the reader (especially the young reader) directly in order to make his point. At this point in the history of the novel, the explicit purpose of the form was either to titillate or to educate (though many of the former books couched their titillation within a sermon about the sins we should all avoid in life, with pictures!).

AuthorMark Turetsky