Study Guide

Tom Jones Book 4, Chapter 11

By Henry Fielding

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Book 4, Chapter 11

The Narrow Escape of Molly Seagrim, With Some Observations For Which We Have Been Forced to Dive Pretty Deep Into Nature

  • Tom runsthe three miles from Squire Western's house to Squire Allworthy's.
  • He gets there just in time to stop the servant who is taking Molly to the local house of correction.
  • Tom promises Molly that he's going to take care of her.
  • Tom, Molly, and the servant all head back inside to Squire Allworthy.
  • Tom tells Squire Allworthy that this whole situation is his fault and he wants to take responsibility.
  • Squire Allworthy sends Molly back to her parents and reads Tom the riot act for his irresponsibility and sinfulness.
  • Squire Allworthy is really, genuinely angry at Tom's behavior.
  • But he is also secretly proud that Tom owned up to everything so honorably.
  • As usual, Tom's good points seem to balance out the bad in Squire Allworthy's opinion.
  • Mr. Thwackum shouts a lot about Tom's gross behavior, which Squire Allworthy ignores.
  • But Mr. Square hates Tom even more than Mr. Thwackum does.
  • And he is much more subtle and intelligent than Mr. Thwackum.
  • He pretends that he is disappointed in Tom's wrongdoing because it reveals that his charities to the gamekeeper's family were biased.
  • In other words, Mr. Square hints to Squire Allworthy that all of those earlier crimes—the poached partridge and the sold Bible—were not the results of Tom's generosity.
  • Instead, they were all about getting what Tom wanted out of Molly sexually—"a prostitution of [friendship]" (4.11.17), as Mr. Square says.
  • And once Mr. Square suggests this idea to Squire Allworthy, the squire can't quite let it go.
  • Squire Allworthy really begins to doubt Tom in that moment.

Tom Jones Book 4, Chapter 11 Study Group

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