Tom Jones: Book 1 - Summary & Analysis

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Tom is found in Squire Allworthy's bed. jenny Jones admits that she is Tom's mother. Bridget, sister of Allworthy, marries Captain Blifil.

Chapter-wise Summary

      Squire Allworthy was the richest man in his district. He lived in Somersetshire. In his youth, he married a very beautiful woman. By her, he had three children all of whom died in infancy. His wife, too, died five years ago and now he lived a retired life with his sister, Miss Bridget Allworthy who had passed the age of thirty.

      Once Squire Allworthy had to go to London for some urgent business. After three months, he came back late in the evening. He took his supper with his sister and went to his chamber for rest, but was much surprised to see an infant wrapped in some coarse linen, lying on his bed. He called his housekeeper Mrs. Deborah Wilkins and, as he had a soft heart, he asked her to take care of the infant that evening and said that, in the morning, he would arrange to provide a nurse for it.

      Next morning, at breakfast, he sent for the child and giving it to his sister, Miss Bridget Allworthy, he asked her to bring him up as his own. His sister, who was always ready to oblige her brother, readily agreed. Now, Mr. Allworthy proceeded to discover the mother of the infant. He entrusted the task to find out the mother of the foundling to Mrs. Wilkins.

      There were many speculations about the infant. People suspected even Squire Allworthy to be the father of the infant. Mrs. Wilkins went to the parish, to make inquiries and, after consultation with an elderly woman of the parish she came to the conclusion that Jenny Jones, who belonged to the same parish, was the mother of the infant. Jenny Jones had lived several years as a servant with a schoolmaster, Mr. Partridge, from whom she acquired a great skill in the Latin language. On being questioned by Mrs. Deborah Wilkins, she readily confessed to her crime.

      Squire Allworthy, who was a justice of the peace, sent for Jenny Jones. He took her into his study and rebuked her for her moral lapse and advised her to lead an innocent and virtuous life. He then asked her to reveal the name of the wicked man who had seduced her, but she entreated him not to persist in asking her the name of the father of her infant as she was under the most solemn ties and the most religious vows to conceal his name at this time. Mr. Allworthy, therefore, dismissed her and recommended repentance.

      Squire Allworthy was very hospitable. His house as well as heart were never shut for any kind of man. A quack doctor named Blifil, who could not earn his bread, found a welcome at Mr. Allworthy's table. Soon afterward, Dr. Blifil sent for his younger brother, Captain Blifil, and introduced him to all the members of Allworthy's family. Captain Blifil had come on a short visit there but stayed on for a long time. He and Miss Bridget soon fell in love with each other and were secretly married.

      One day while walking, Dr. Blifil, with great concern, revealed the fact to Squire Allworthy, but the latter but did not show any displeasure and said that he saw no reason why he should object to his sister's choice of her own happiness. He was sure that Captain Blifil was a man of sense and honor. When Captain Blifil found that his position was secure in the house of Mr. Allworthy, he began to treat his brother with rudeness and contempt. The doctor was much grieved at the ingratitude of his brother. So he left the place and went to London where he died soon after, of a broken heart.

Critical Analysis

      In Book I, we are introduced to a few characters, the main characters being Squire Allworthy, and the hero of the novel, Tom Jones, who is discovered as a foundling, and the others being Allworthy's sister Bridget, Mrs. Wilkins, Jenny Jones, Partridge and Captain Blifil. The scene is laid in a village in Somersetshire. Squire Allworthy is a country justice and a gentleman. His house keeper, Mrs. Wilkins is quite selfish and malicious. Dr. Blifil is a minor character and a contrast to Captain Blifil, his brother. Bridget's anxiety for Tom's welfare is suggestive. Tom's parentage is not disclosed by Jenny who quietly places the foundling in the bed of Allworthy. The natural goodness of Allworthy is revealed in, his decision to adopt the foundling. Captain Blifil marries Bridget. His character makes the reader feel that his son will have the ugly traits of his father. Fielding is a master of the art of plot construction. In the very first book, he creates suspense about Tom's parentage and he arouses the curiosity of the reader.

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