Download a PDF to print or study offline.

Study Guide
Cite This Study Guide

How to Cite This Study Guide

quotation mark graphic


Course Hero. "Tom Jones Study Guide." Course Hero. 9 Feb. 2017. Web. 16 Nov. 2018. <>.

In text

(Course Hero)



Course Hero. (2017, February 9). Tom Jones Study Guide. In Course Hero. Retrieved November 16, 2018, from

In text

(Course Hero, 2017)



Course Hero. "Tom Jones Study Guide." February 9, 2017. Accessed November 16, 2018.


Course Hero, "Tom Jones Study Guide," February 9, 2017, accessed November 16, 2018,

Tom Jones | Symbols


The Muff

Sophia's muff symbolizes her sexual feelings and passionate love for Tom. A muff was ornamental in the 18th century as well as having the purpose of keeping a person warm. When Sophia gets a new muff she plans to discard the old one; then she finds out Tom kissed it so it becomes sacred to her. She wears it on her arm when she is not carrying it around, and she saves it from the fire when her father gets impatient with her because the muff is getting in the way of her playing the harpsichord. Sophia leaves her muff behind for Tom when she learns of his infidelity with Mrs. Waters. This is both a reminder of their unspoken commitment and an admonishment to him that she might abandon her feelings for him.

The muff can also be seen to represent Tom's abiding devotion to Sophia, despite his liaisons with other women. Even though he takes a while to learn how to show his devotion to her through chastity, he knows all along that no woman so fulfills his ideal nor stirs up in him such longings as she does. In Book 5, Chapter 4 when Tom realizes the extent of Sophia's attachment to the muff, it becomes for him too the abiding symbol of their union.

Tommy the Bird

The bird, Tommy, symbolizes Tom's love for Sophia. Tom Jones takes the bird out of its nest and teaches it to sing. He gives the bird to Sophia as a token, and when Blifil slips off its string the faithless bird immediately flies up into a tree. Thus the bird also represents Tom's tendency to roam and not be domesticated. Tom risks his life to retrieve the bird for Sophia by climbing into a tree and then falling. His action to retrieve the bird demonstrates his valor but also his willingness to go the last mile for Sophia because he loves her even before he knows he does.


Money in the novel symbolizes power and status as well as reveals the degree to which people are greedy or generous. Neither Sophia nor Tom has much power or money as the younger generation, and they must rely on their fathers to provide them with the necessities, including cash. Tom is extremely generous with money when he gets it and even careless with money to a fault. This is how he loses the £500 given to him by Mr. Allworthy. Black George is greedy, and although he becomes much more prosperous because of the intervention of Tom, he feels no compunction about stealing Tom's money and sending him into the world penniless. Sophia is also generous with money, and when she loses £100 she does not spend much time fretting about it. She sends Tom her own money—whatever she has—when she finds out he has been disowned. Later she sends him back the £100 note he returned to her. Lady Bellaston is not very charitable, the narrator says, even though she is rich, but she uses her money to get what she wants from men. She uses money to seduce Tom and to keep him in her power. Squire Western threatens to disinherit his daughter if she does not yield to his command that she marry Blifil, and he is another example of someone who uses money to push people around. Moreover, he is greedy. Although he has a lot of money already, he tries to retain cordial relations with his sister mostly because he wants to inherit her money, and he wants his daughter to marry Blifil because he is Mr. Allworthy's heir.

Cite This Study Guide

information icon Have study documents to share about Tom Jones? Upload them to earn free Course Hero access!