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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Ironies of Vice and Virtue

The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling
by Henry Fielding (22 April 1707 – 8 October 1754)

 Tom Jones - the movie (1963):

Tom (Albert Finney) grows up to be a lively young man whose good looks and kind heart make him very popular with the opposite sex. However, he truly loves only one woman, the gentle Sophie Western (Susannah York), who returns his passion. Sadly, Tom is stigmatised as a "bastard" and cannot wed a young lady of her high station. Sophie, too, must hide her feelings while her aunt (Edith Evans) and her father, Squire Western (Hugh Griffith) try to coerce her to marry a more suitable man – a man whom she hates.

This young man is Blifil (David Warner, in his film debut), the son of the Squire's widowed sister Bridget (Rachel Kempson). Although he is of legitimate birth, he is an ill-natured fellow with plenty of hypocritical 'virtue' but none of Tom's warmth, honesty, or high spirits.

When have you seen religious principles put ahead of love? (Serendipity Bible 10th Anniversary Edition, page 1500).
Far and away the best portrait of hypocritical virtue at its worst can be found in the movie Tom Jones (1963).  Here, Master Blifil, an incredibly sanctimonious young man, contrives to destroy the happiness of the generous spirited and irrepressible Tom Jones. If you have not seen this movie please do so. It will fix in your mind permanently how parsimonious "virtue" can be a major vice......and how kind hearted "vice" can be a major virtue.

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