Study Guide

Black George, the Gamekeeper in Tom Jones

Black George, the Gamekeeper

George Seagrim, also known as Black George, confuses us a little bit. His behavior in this book is mostly horrible: when he and Tom go poaching on Squire Western's land, he lets Tom take a beating to save his own skin.

When his wife starts yelling at him about finding Molly a job with Sophia Western, he whips her. And he steals Tom's five hundred pounds from right under Tom's nose after Tom has been kicked out by Squire Allworthy. Once Squire Allworthy finds out about his theft, Black George disappears, never to be seen by his family again.

All of these actions make us kind of despise Black George. Yet, the narrator speaks up for him. He notes that, "it is often the same person who represents the villain and the heroe" (7.1.15), meaning that people are sometimes villains and sometimes heroes, but rarely one or the other all the time. Black George may seemlike a villain, but he is "as honest as men who love money better than any other thing in the universe, generally are" (6.12.17).

In other words, Black George is greedy, and that leads to a lot of his terrible actions. But at heart, he is not a bad person through and through—he's just weak.