Mrs. Western: Character Analysis in Tom Jones

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      Mrs. Western, the sister of Squire Western, had lived about the court, and thought she had seen the world. She was a perfect mistress of manners, customs, ceremonies, and fashion. She thought she had attained a very competent skill in politics, and could discourse, very learnedly, on the affairs of Europe. She was, moreover, excellently well skilled in the doctrine of amour, and knew better than anybody who were together. Her masculine person, which was near six feet high, added to her manner and learning, possibly prevented the other sex from regarding her, notwithstanding her petticoats, in the light of a woman. However, as she had considered the matter scientifically, she perfectly well knew, though she had never practiced them, all the arts which fine ladies use when they desire to give encouragement, or to conceal liking, with all the long appendage of smiled, ogles, and glances, as they were then practiced in the beau monde. No species of disguise or affectation had escaped her notice, but as to the plain simple workings of honest nature, as she had never seen any such, she could know but little of them. She could mistake Sophia's love for Tom to be passion for Blifil and when she discovered her mistake, she could ignore Sophia's heart and make plans for the aggrandizement of the family. It is, nevertheless, delightful to see her fighting with Squire Western on the two eternal subjects of politics and the care of children, and there is no doubt that she makes an indelible impression on our mind.

     Mrs. Western, the elderly and sophisticated sister of Western, is sagacious, learned, and has an urbane refinement about her. "She had lived about the court, and had seen the world". She thus acquired court manners and worldly wisdom. By her vast and varied reading, she had also gained more than common knowledge of literature, politics, history and so on. She was also "well skilled in the doctrine of Amour... a knowledge which she more easily attained, as her pursuit of it was never diverted by any affairs of her own." (Book VI, Chapter 2). That was because she had none of the amorous feelings herself, or because her masculine form (she was near six feet high), and manly bearing provided little emotional encouragement to the other party.

      With all her learning and sophistication, Mrs. Western has an innate orthodoxy in regard to women's rights. She cannot approve of Sophia's attachment to Tom. When Sophia tells her that she has, or should have, as much right to marry according to her inclinations, as her father, himself, and that she will never marry a man she dislikes, (i.e., Blifil) her aunt is 'astonished, and snubs her, saying—

A young woman of your age, and unmarried, to talk of inclinations (Book VII, chapter 3)

      Her sharp class-consciousness, and scant regard of the heart's affections, are revealed in the explanation of her attitude which she gives to her niece at that time.

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