What is the significance of the Man of the Hill episode in Tom Jones?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

The significance of the Man of the Hill episode in Tom Jones could relate to the similarities between Jack’s life and Tom’s life.

Before Tom gets to know the Man of the Hill—or Jack—he’s told, “The country people are not, I believe, more afraid of the devil himself.” Thus, the Man of the Hill already has something in common with Tom. They’re both ostracized and outcasts.

Once Jack starts to tell his story, the reasons for their banishments align. Both men have tempestuous, passionate streaks and a hard time exerting self-control. They’ve also had the misfortune to find themselves in the company of people who exploited their temperaments. For Tom Jones, Blifil manipulates events to make them worse than they are. For Jack, his acquaintance with the “very diabolical” Sir George Gresham precipitates his exile.

Additionally, the two characters are at odds with their father/father figure. Blifil’s skewed version of Tom’s behavior leads Squire Allworthy to send him away. For Jack, his behavior caused his father to cut off financial assistance.

Arguably, the episode creates a parallel between Tom and Jack. The episode serves as a warning to Tom about what could happen to him if he doesn’t get a better handle on his actions. Since Tom wants to be with Sophia and not alone like Jack, he could probably learn from Jack’s experiences, and these lessons might significantly improve his future.

Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on