Book 4 Chapter 3 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.

Well, now that we've had our chapter-long description of Sophia, we can finally get down to Tom asking her for help with her father, right? Well, not so fast. It turns out, we need to turn our eye back five years, to an incident involving a bird.

Here, we see Master Blifil's manipulativeness and his callous cruelty. He's jealous of Sophia's affection for Tom, and therefore takes the symbol of that affection, a bird that Tom had procured for Sophia, and "sets it free." He claims he felt sad for the bird, but his sadistic pleasure in telling Sophia that the bird has been eaten by a hawk should be a tip-off.

An interesting thing, that is completely consistent with Fielding's writing thus far, is that he takes pains not to reveal the inner emotions and motivations of his characters. Instead, he likens it to riffling through people's cupboards in order to find their secrets to reveal to the world. It's an interesting point of view for an author to take, and it allows him to seem to take Blifil's side while allowing his reader to figure out what a little twerp he is.

AuthorMark Turetsky