In Fielding’s Tom Jones, Squire Allworthy (Tom Jones’ guardian) and Squire Western (Sophie Western’s father) are from the same social class in the same county. But Allworthy speaks what appears to be the 18th-Century equivalent of BBC English, while Western speaks with an exaggerated provincial dialect. How could that be?
I assume it’s because Western is a boor and a fool, and Allworthy is neither.
Being from the same social class and the same location doesn’t mean you’ve had the same education, or even that your parents had the same accents. Sounds like whomever educated Allsworthy and Western taught them different accents, purposefuly (tutors, choice of schools) or not.
It’s been a while since I read it but I think the key word is provincial. Western may be of the same social class but he’s had a far more narrow upbringing and not travelled much. Allworthy on the other hand speaks like an educated man. Although their status is ostensibly the same their accents do mark a significant social as well as character difference. Allworthy’s speech would make him fit in with and be taken seriously by the upper classes at large and particularly in London society whereas Western would be marked as a country boor.
Squire Allworthy spends all his free time hanging around with scholars and theologians. Squire Western spends all of his time hanging out with his dogs and horses.