Book 17 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.

This chapter begins with a curse-ridden rant by Squire Allworthy about meeting with his lady-cousins, who pester him about accepting Lord Fellamar's proposal of marriage to Sophia. It then transitions to Allworthy singing Sophia's praises and his pledge not to have her married against her will.

Allworthy's praise, however, seems a lot like misogyny: he foremost talks about how she doesn't have any opinions of her own, and mostly just defers to men. He compares women who hold opinions to apes. It's possible that Sophia gets in a subtle dig at Square and Thwackum in Allworthy's retelling of a story: she says, "I am sure you cannot in earnest think me capable of deciding any point in which two such gentlemen disagree." As a writer for the theatre, I'm sure Fielding would have had the actress playing Sophia put a certain degree of contempt into "such gentlemen."

Blifil offhandedly mentions Tom's imprisonment, which sets Western to celebrating, but the chapter ends with Allworthy telling Blifil that he can't expect to win a woman's heart by perseverance.

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AuthorMark Turetsky