Critical Analysis of Oliver Goldsmith’s Essay Beau Tibbs

Beau Tibbs by Oliver Goldsmith is an extract from the collection of essays “The Citizen of the World. ‘In the essays of The Citizen of the World’, Goldsmith introduces an imaginary philosophic China man named Lien-chi-Altangi. He was an acute observer of men and things. He recorded his observations in letters supposed to be written by him to friends in China. These letters record the adventures of the Chinese philosopher. They consist of character-sketches, social satire and whimsical reflections on all sorts of subjects. They are connected by a slight thread of story.

Beau Tibbs records the experiences of the Chinese philosopher in England. It tells us the story of his acquaintance with a person named Tibbs. In the first section of essay, the Chinese philosopher is introduced to Tibbs through the Man in Black. Tibbs is an extraordinary character. His dress was peculiar. His clothes were old. They showed his poverty. Yet talked continually of his associations with aristocrats. He said to the Man in Black that the Duke of Piccadilly had offered him a good sum of money. His statements were often false. They were found to be contradictory. Thus he said that they had dined with the Duchess of Piccadilly the previous day in town. But after a while, he spoke of his dining with the Duke in the country on the same day. The Chinese philosopher asked him to explain his position. He then suggested that he ate two dinners every day. This showed that Tibbs was in the habit of telling lies. Again, Tibbs was in the habit of borrowing money from others. He did not care to pay back the borrowed amount. His very dress was not less extraordinary than his conduct. One day he would be found dressed in rags, the next-day he would be found dressed in fine clothes. He talked familiarly with distinguished persons, but really he was not in the least acquainted with them.

He thought that people did not know about his poverty. He was a pleasant companion. He understood the art of flattery. He charmed all by his talks and then demanded money from them. So long as he was young, his light behaviour may be tolerated. But his old age would be unhappy. He would have to depend upon the charity of some people. He would be treated contemptuously. He would be employed as a spy upon servants or he would be employed as a fearful object to terrify children.

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In the second section of the essay, the Chinese philosopher visited the house of Tibbs, Tibbs overtook him in the public walk. Soon he began to behave oddly. He saluted several well dressed persons, though they did not return his salutes cordially. He saluted well-dressed strangers. At times, he took out a pocket-book and took down notes. The Chinese philosopher was disgusted with him. He could not tolerate his oddities. But he said that he was in a jesting mood. Next he invited the Chinese philosopher to dine with him that day. He spoke highly of Mrs. Tibbs and his charming daughter, Varolina Withelmina Amelia Tibbs. He wanted to make his daughter a perfect lady. He wanted to marry her to the son of a noble man. All this showed that Tibbs was a man of great poses and pretensions.

By his visit to Tibb’s house, the Chinese philosopher realized that he was a tall talker. His house was situated at an ugly place, but he spoke highly of the beauty of its natural surroundings. All his talk about this talented wife was nonsensical. His wife had to wash his clothes, they were very poor. He tried to hide his poverty by his poses and postures. At last the Chinese philosopher became disgusted with his behaviour. He left the house of Tibbs under the pretext of keeping some previous engagement.

This essay gives us the sketch of an extraordinary character. It gives us the picture of social life. Often we come across poor people who try to hide their poverty by posing to be rich. Such people are foolish. They are objects of pity.

The moral of the essay is contained in the following observation of the Chinese philosopher-“The company of fools may at first make us smile, but at last never fails of rendering us melancholy.” The Chinese philosopher realised that we may feel amused in the company of fools for some time, but at last the company of fools makes us sad.



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