A Demonic Character Squire Western in Tom Jones

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      Introduction. Squire Western, Sophia's father, is certainly a colourful piece of characterization in Tom Jones, interesting well as comical. At the same time, Western has a somewhat demoniac aspect, with his violent outbursts and fierce appearance when he gets angry.

      An Unreasonable and Despotic Father with Material Concerns. A despotic father, he is indulgent so far as Sophia does not put up any opposition to his wishes. At the sign of the slightest disagreement, he becomes unreasonably intolerant. He shows a furious reaction when he hears of Sophia being in love. He vehemently cries:

"I'll disinherit; I'll turn her out of doors, stark naked, without a farthing."

      Unreasonable to the extreme, and sounding very odd in the process, he declares:

"If she marries the man I would have her, she may love whom she pleases."

      He is obstinate and insists upon Sophia marrying Blifil. When entreaties fail to move Sophia, he clenches his fists, bites his lips and insists upon the marriage even though Sophia may hang herself the next morning. Squire Western is more concerned with material values than with the happines of his daughter. He is insistent on the match between Sophia and Blifil mainly for the material concerns. He berates his sister in virulent terms but as soon as he is reminded of her fortune, he requests her to return. In his most violent passions and outbursts, Squire Western is not blind to material prospects.

      The demoniac aspect of Squire Western's character lies mainly in his violent and vituperative outbursts. His language is harsh and abusive. He entertains a demoniac hatred for his dead wife, whom he blames even after her death for anything that went wrong. While hating her so much, he resolutely believed that it was she who had hated him. He shows extremes of sentimentality or coarseness and brutality in his behaviour towards others.

      Conclusion. Squire Western is, in reality, more of a weak character than demoniac. It is true that he shows a demoniac side, especially in his violent and furious outbursts of temper. In a condition of fierce anger, he, like Thwackum, is a demoniac character. "He is an adult from a child's nightmare, given to elemental fury - 'the froth bursting from his lips the moment they were uncorked...' Laughter prevents us from being horrified by him," says Hamilton Macallister. It is a basic factor that Fielding's laughter, humour and irony prevent anything from becoming terrible or frightening. Everything is given a slight tinge of the ridiculous, so that the nightmarish quality receded to the background.

      Squire Western, in spite of all the bluster, terrible oaths and violent language, is a weak man. He confesses to Allworthy the vulnerability of his nature, when he observes:

"I do not know how, tis, but d....n me, Allworthy, if you do not make me always do just as you please."

      He shows panic and a touch of cowardice in his encounter with Captain Egglane ill London. The demoniac aspect is toned down by the touch of laughter and the very human weakness in Squire Western. All through, however, he remains a vital and 'real' character; the greatest of Fielding's burlesque characters.

University Questions

Comment on the view that Western is a 'demonic' character.
"Western is the greatest of Fielding's burlesque characters." Elaborate.
Write a note on the significance of Squire Western in Tom Jones.
Would you consider Squire Western as one of the most interesting characters in Tom Jones? Give reasons for your answer.
Write a short note on the character of Squire Western.

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