Tom Jones: Book 3 - Summary & Analysis

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Tom and Blifil have different characters; Tom tells a lie to protect Black George from punishment; Black George is dismissed; Thwackum and Square, the two tutors of Tom, are introduced to the reader.

Chapter-wise Summary

      Twelve years passed by. Our hero, Tom, was now fourteen years old. As he had already been convicted of three robberies, "it was the universal opinion of all Mr. Allworthy's family that he was certainly born to be hanged". But Master Blifil was quite a contrast to him. He was sober, discreet and pious beyond his age, and was praised by all.

      Tom Jones had a friend among the servants of the family. This friend was the gamekeeper. One day, Tom Jones and Black George, the gamekeeper, went for shooting. They saw some partridges near the border of the manor of a gentleman. Mr. Allworthy had given strict orders not to trespass on any of his neighbors. But as Tom was eager to pursue the flying game, he persuaded his friend to trespass. Both of them entered the manor and both discharged their guns almost at the same instant and one of the partridges was shot down. The owner of that manor was, at that time, on horseback at a little distance from them. He soon made towards the place and discovered poor Tom, as the gamekeeper had hidden himself in the thickest part of the bushes. The gentleman went straight to Squire Allworthy and reported the matter. He stressed that some other person was in his company, as two guns had been discharged almost in the same instant. Tom was called before Allworthy. He confessed to his fault but persisted in asserting that he was alone, as he wanted to save his friend from ruin. Next morning, Thwackum, the tutor, asked Tom the same question. Receiving the same answer, he gave him a severe whipping. Tom bore the punishment but did not betray his friend. Squire Allworthy now began to suspect that the gentleman had been mistaken. He felt sorry and gave Tom a little horse to make amends.

       Besides Thwackum, Tom’s tutor, a scholar named Square also lived in the house of Allworthy. Both of them were good to Master Blifil but cruel and harsh to Tom. One day, Tom and Blifil had a quarrel during which Blifil called Tom a beggarly bastard. Tom felt insulted and, in a fit of anger, gave him a bloody nose. Master Blifil, with the blood running from his nose, went to Squire Allworthy. He complained against Tom Jones and said that Tom was a great liar, as Tom had refused to admit that George was in his company when actually he was accompanied by George, the game-keeper. Tom admitted that he had told a lie which he scorned as much as anyone else. He said that he had done so as he had promised the poor fellow to shield him from any possible misfortune. "Indeed sir", said he, "it could hardly be called a lie that I told for the poor fellow was entirely innocent of the whole matter. I should have gone alone after the birds: nay I did go first and he only followed me to prevent more mischief. Do, pray, sir, let me be punished; take my little horse away again, but pray, sir forgive poor George."

      Mr. Allworthy was deeply impressed by Tom’s sincerity and straightforwardness. He hesitated a few moments and then dismissed both the boys, advising them to live in a more friendly and peaceable manner.

      Mr. Allworthy dismissed George from his service. George and his family passed miserable days.

      Tom could not see these poor wretches naked and starving. He went to a neighboring fair and sold the horse that was presented to him by Mr. Allworthy and gave all the money to the gamekeeper. On his return, Thwackum asked him what he had done with the money for which the horse was sold, but Tom firmly refused to tell him. Thwackum was about to punish him when Mr. Allworthy appeared there and took Tom to his room. Mr. Allworthy asked the same question. Tom explained everything fully and frankly and said: "You yourself, sir, I am convinced in my case, would have done the same for none ever so sensibly felt the misfortunes of others." With tears running down his cheeks, he added: "It was to save them from absolute destruction that I parted with your dear present notwithstanding all the value I had for it. I sold the horse for them and they have every farthing of the money."

      Mr. Allworthy stood silent. His eyes were filled with tears at the generosity of the lad. He, at length, dismissed Jones with a gentle rebuke advising him to speak to him in future before relieving the distress of others.

      Mr. Allworthy decided to take back George in his service. But Master Blifil poisoned his ears saying that the gamekeeper had killed several hares belonging to Mr. Western, the nearby Squire. Mr. Allworthy was enraged and decided not to re-employ George. Tom now determined to try another method of preserving the poor gamekeeper from ruin. He had grown very intimate with Mr. Western. So he resolved to help Black George in getting employment in Mr. Western's family, as a gamekeeper.

Critical Analysis

      This book reveals Tom's generosity and goodness of heart, in contrast to Blifil's treachery. People believe that Tom is a trouble-maker and that Blifil is a discreet and pious person. But actually, Tom is moved by generous imputes, while Blifil is hypocritical and maintains the attitude of propriety. Fielding seems to favor Tom's goodness and, at the same time, censures his imprudence for engaging in poaching. He also shows that Tom's treatment of Black George deserves commendation. Fielding believes that true religion is dynamic and practical, and good actions are more important than a knowledge of good principles.

      Two tutors—Thwackum and Square are introduced in this book. Both of them are pompous and hypocritical. Allworthy's inability to see their faults only discloses his ignorance of human nature. Both have knowledge of what is good but lack the ability to carry it out in daily life.

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