A Dead Character & Weakness of Squire Allworthy in Tom Jones

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      Introduction. Fielding's delineation of Squire Allworthy is not as effective as his characterization of the other personages in Tom Jones. It has been remarked by critics that a completely 'good' character such as Allworthy is difficult to make convincing. Allworthy remains 'wooden' and 'dead'. He never comes out in a vital manner as Squire Western does.

      Is Fielding ironic? Many of the passages in Tom Jones would give rise to the contention that Fielding is being ironical. It is surprising, Fielding tells us, that the story of Partridge's quarrel with his wife and the rumour about his having fathered Tom has not reached Allworthy's ears. He goes on to explain in a defensive manner that scandal never reached the table of Allworthy. But we can easily draw the conclusion from other incidents that Allworthy often based his actions on malicious gossip or falsehoods maligning the innocent; his behaviour towards Partridge and Tom are evidence of this.

      Allworthy's Goodness Essential to the Novel. It is necessary for the novel that Allworthy be portrayed as exceptionally good. It is only through his goodness that the villainy of Blifil can have due effect. Fielding is not being ironic when he tells us that Allworthy is good. Allworthy is, indeed, good. But his goodness is a 'cold', rational, and unemotional kind of goodness. He lacks ah instinctive response to the inherent goodness in others. His coldness is a contrast to Tom’s warmth of heart and impulsive actions.

      Squire Allworthy: A Stiff and Wooden Character. The miserable deficiency in passion makes Allworthy a stiff and wooden figure. His lack of passion is singularly apparent when Western brings him the proposal of marriage between Sophia and Blifil. The warm blooded Squire Western is rather irritated at Allworthy's cool self-possession. Fielding is not normally appreciative of such wooden characters who lack passion, because he held them to be hypocrites. But the case of Allworthy is different. He is not made a hypocrite and Fielding is not ironical at his expense as far as his goodness is concerned. Squire Allworthy is also lacking in humour. He takes himself too seriously. As a result, he is cold and flat, too ’dead' to be appreciated or admired.

      Conclusion: Squire Allworthy is a weakness in the novel. Fielding seems to have been critically aware of the delineation because he is constantly putting up a defence for his 'blindness'. However, Allworthy remains a wooden or 'dead character' and a definite weakness in the novel.

University Questions

How far does the portrait of Mr. Allworthy show critical awareness on the part of Fielding?
To what extent does the weakness in the delineation of Mr. Allworthy affect the worth of Tom Jones?
Examine the view that Squire Allworthy is a 'dead' character.
How far has Fielding been successful in portraying the character of Allworthy?

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