Study Guide

Tom Jones Book 1, Chapter 3

By Henry Fielding

Book 1, Chapter 3

An Odd Accident Which Befel Mr. Allworthy, at His Return Home. The Decent Behaviour of Mrs. Deborah Wilkins, With Some Proper Animadversions on Bastards

  • (An "animadversion" is a negative comment or criticism of something. Use it and you'll sound uber-impressive.)
  • Squire Allworthy has just spent almost three months in London on business.
  • He arrives back at home completely exhausted.
  • But when he goes to bed, he finds a baby wrapped up in his sheets.
  • He immediately calls for one of his servants, a lady named Mrs. Deborah Wilkins. (The "Mrs." just means she's older; she's not married.)
  • Mrs. Wilkins wants Squire Allworthy to hunt down the shameless mother of the child. She must be an awful sinner, to go around having sex and babies without a husband (says Mrs. Wilkins).
  • Mrs. Wilkins also thinks that the baby isn't worth much, since he is a bastard (a child born outside of marriage).
  • Squire Allworthy pays no attention to Mrs. Wilkins's harsh words.
  • He thinks the baby is super cute, and he tells Mrs. Wilkins to go and hire a nurse for him ASAP.
  • Mrs. Wilkins takes the child for the night.
  • All of her dark judgments about bastards seem to melt away, since the baby is so sweet.