Study Guide

Tom Jones Book 4, Chapter 11

By Henry Fielding

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.