tom jones

Title: tom jones
Author:
More Cliffsnotes

^^^^^^^^^^ HENRY FIELDING: THE AUTHOR AND HIS TIMES The outspoken eighteenth-century man of letters, Samuel Johnson, wrote to a woman who had read the novel Tom Jones: I am shocked to hear you quote from so vicious a book. I am sorry to hear you have read it: a confession which no modest lady should ever make. I scarcely know a more corrupt work. That's an unusual judgment about a landmark book in the history of world literature, but it's a sample of the kind of passionate response--both favorable and unfavorable--Tom Jones has inspired since it was published. Its author, Henry Fielding, was born on April 22, 1707, in Somerset, in southwest England, the area where his hero is born and raised. Unlike Tom, Fielding had no doubts about his aristocratic lineage. His father was a lieutenant general who had fought against the forces of the great French king, Louis XIV. His mother was the granddaughter of Sir Henry Gold, a baron of the exchequer. But if the Fieldings' social position was secure, their financial situation was shaky. Like most aristocrats, the young Fielding grew to have expensive tastes. Unlike many, he had no way of affording them. For much of his life, he would be like Tom Jones, frequently standing in some lavish drawing room talking to nobility, while wondering how he would pay his own rent. First educated by tutors, he was then sent to Eton, the finest English boarding school. But where other young men of his background and intelligence would have continued on to Cambridge or Oxford University, he didn't, probably because his family could not afford the tuition. Later, he broke off his legal studies at the University of Leyden, in Holland, for the same reason. He made the most of the education he did receive, though, picking up the dazzling familiarity with classical authors that he displays so artfully in his writing. In 1734 Fielding eloped with Charlotte Cradock. The model for Sophia in Tom Jones, Charlotte was his great love--the one, he declared, "from whom I draw all the solid comfort of my life." Like Sophia, she was both beautiful and an heiress. The newlyweds settled happily in rural Dorsetshire, but within a year they were back in London, having run through most of Charlotte's fortune. Meanwhile, Fielding had taken up writing plays. According to the great twentieth-century playwright George Bernard Shaw, Fielding was "the greatest dramatist, with the single exception of Shakespeare, produced by England between the Middle Ages and the nineteenth century." Most critics, however, don't find his plays so praiseworthy. Mostly light and satirical, some obviously dashed off to make money, they served best to train Fielding's comic and dramatic gifts--gifts that reached their height in Tom Jones. Fielding's career in the theater ended suddenly. In 1737, England's prime minister, Sir Robert Walpole, a frequent target of the playwright's satires, passed a law that effectively barred Fielding from writing for the stage. His livelihood destroyed, the struggling husband and father was forced to resume the legal career he'd abandoned earlier. But he continued to write, and soon he found a new target for his pen. That target was one of the first English novels ever written, Samuel Richardson's Pamela, published in 1740. Pamela tells the story of a maid who fends off her master's romantic advances so he'll propose marriage instead. It was an enormous success, and not just for literary reasons. Education, once an exclusive privilege of the rich, was spreading to the middle and lower classes. Shop-girls, bargemen, and carriage drivers were learning to read. They weren't interested in the literature taught to the aristocracy: Latin poems, Greek philosophies, or stories about kings and emperors. They wanted heroes and heroines they could identify with--heroines like Pamela. Fielding understood the reasons for the popularity of Pamela, but he still found the book and its author foolish and sentimental, and viewed their success with amusement and exasperation. He attacked Pamela twice. His first effort was a hilarious satire, Shamela, published in 1741. (It's not known for certain that Fielding was Shamela's author, but he is the prime suspect.) Two years later, he published the tale of Pamela's virtuous brother, Joseph Andrews. A funny thing happened, however, while Fielding was writing Joseph Andrews. The book, which he began as a satire, took on a life of its own. In the end it became not just an attack on Richardson but a great work in its own right. Fielding became, with his rival, one of the pioneers of the novel. Joseph Andrews was also Fielding's practice ground for an even greater work, his rich and massive masterpiece, Tom Jones. Tom Jones was written in the most difficult circumstances. Unable to support his family solely by writing, Fielding had to juggle both a literary and a legal career. He did it honorably; eventually appointed justice of the peace, he shunned the bribes and privileges that usually accompanied the office. Though an aristocrat, he worked with tireless devotion to help London's poor. He presided over a busy police court and founded a forerunner of Scotland Yard (the London police force). With a friend, the artist William Hogarth, he fought the rampant alcoholism which the recent introduction of gin had brought to England. Meanwhile, his personal life was in turmoil. In 1744 his beloved wife, Charlotte, and a daughter both died, plunging him into depression. He also developed painful gout. Yet throughout these trials, he kept writing. Tom Jones was published in 1749, and it was an immediate, enormous success. The entire first edition of 2000 copies was sold out before the date of publication. Some readers disliked it as much as Samuel Johnson did later; they called it "truly profligate" and "offensive to every chaste reader." But that didn't discourage sales. Three more editions sold out in the first year. There are a number of reasons for Tom Jones' success, and for the fact that it is still so widely read today. Fielding was a master of storytelling. The nineteenth-century poet and critic Samuel Coleridge called Tom Jones "one of the most perfect plots ever planned." Fielding keeps numerous plots and subplots going at once, and makes them collide in fascinating ways. His experience in the theater helped him give the novel a dramatic structure, full of sharp, lively scenes. Fielding's comic gifts provide his readers with brilliant satire as well. And he makes ample use of his broad classical education, elevating the novel to what he called a "comic epic-poem in prose." Although some readers have criticized Fielding's work for not presenting an intimate portrayal of emotion and mood, Fielding provides this sense of intimacy in his own way. The narrator in Tom Jones is one of the friendliest, most personable companions in literature. He's someone you'd love to have dinner with. He amuses you with his wit, dazzles you with his intelligence, warms you with his hospitality. After you've read his great novel, you feel as though you've been on a carriage ride with one of the best traveling companions you could find. In short, in Tom Jones, Fielding wrote a book that is important both as a great novel in its own right and as one of the works that established the novel form. As the critic Martin Battestin writes, Tom Jones is at once the last and the consummate literary achievement of Fielding's age.... The place Henry Fielding's finest novel holds in "the great tradition" of English fiction is quite secure. Not just as the mirror of... an age or as the... influence behind such different writers as Jane Austen and Dickens, Thackeray and George Eliot... but as a work of art in its own right. Tom Jones has been the subject of more stimulating critical attention than any other novel of its period. Fielding's years of exhausting legal and literary work took their toll. Though, according to his cousin, Lady Montagu, he "knew more happy moments than any prince on earth," he struggled against depression and exhaustion. He never really recovered from the loss of his wife, though he married Charlotte's maid several years after Charlotte's death. His health damaged, he left with his family for the more congenial climate of Portugal. He died in Lisbon on October 8, 1754. Fielding was an aristocrat and a gentleman, widely praised for his wit, charm, and generosity. One of his greatest gifts to the world was his writing. It is a gift you will find richly displayed in his greatest work, his masterpiece, Tom Jones. ^^^^^^^^^^ TOM JONES: THE PLOT Returning to his country estate from a long trip, Squire Allworthy discovers a baby in his bed. He eventually finds the mother, Jenny Jones, the unmarried servant of a schoolteacher named Partridge. Allworthy generously offers to raise the child as his own. Jenny gratefully accepts the offer and leaves town without revealing the father's name. Suspicions turn to Jenny's master, Partridge. Allworthy sadly dismisses him from his post, and Partridge leaves town also. Allworthy gives the baby the name Tom Jones and loves him dearly. Soon after, Mrs. Bridget (Allworthy's sister who lives with him) marries the greedy Captain Blifil. They have a baby boy who is raised together with Tom Jones. As he grows up, Master Blifil becomes very jealous of Tom. Blifil plays up to his tutors, Thwackum and Square, and plots to bring about Tom's ruin. Meanwhile, Sophia Western, the lovely daughter of the neighboring squire, falls in love with Tom. Tom likes her but doesn't notice Sophia's adoration. He's become involved with the gamekeeper's daughter, Molly Seagrim. She becomes pregnant and is humiliated by the townspeople. Tom confesses to Squire Allworthy that he's the father, but when he goes to Molly to bring her some money, he finds her in bed with the philosopher Mr. Square. She has had other lovers all along. Tom feels free to think of the other woman he's gradually fallen in love with: Sophia Western. But Squire Western, Sophia's father, won't allow her to marry a foundling like Tom. He wants her to marry Blifil and so unite the Allworthy and Western estates. Blifil wants to marry her as well, to gain her wealth and to get revenge on Tom Jones. When Western discovers Sophia's love for Tom, he locks her up until she agrees to marry Blifil. Squire Allworthy becomes very ill. He recovers but receives the news that Mrs. Bridget, who was away on a trip, has died. To celebrate Allworthy's recovery, Tom gets drunk. Later Blifil lies to Allworthy that Jones got drunk because he thought Allworthy was about to die and was celebrating his impending inheritance. Thwackum and Square corroborate the story. Allworthy, who is fed up with Tom's offenses, banishes him from his estate. Miserably, Tom heads toward the sea. Meanwhile, Sophia escapes her father's imprisonment and sets out to find Tom. Western, an enthusiastic hunter, climbs on his horse and sets off to track his daughter down. At an inn, Tom is attacked by a surly soldier named Northerton. The man who bandages Tom's wounds turns out to be Partridge--Tom's supposed father. But Partridge informs Tom that Tom isn't his son. The pair become friends and traveling companions. Walking along, Tom finds Northerton attacking a woman named Mrs. Waters. He rescues the attractive lady and takes her to Upton Inn. Mrs. Waters seduces Tom over dinner. Sophia arrives at the inn and finds that Tom's in bed with another woman. Enraged, she leaves her handwarmer on his bed, with her name, and makes her way toward London. Western, too, arrives and finds Tom but not Sophia. Cursing, he begins the pursuit of Sophia but becomes distracted by a fox hunt and eventually returns home. On the road, Sophia meets her cousin, Mrs. Fitzpatrick, who's fleeing her hot-tempered Irish husband. They go to London together. Meanwhile, Tom discovers Sophia's handwarmer on his bed and falls into despair. He sets off on foot toward London with Partridge. In London, Sophia stays with Lady Bellaston, a society lady. Lady Bellaston hears about Tom Jones and is so intrigued she contrives to meet him on her own. Tom, hoping the lady can lead him to Sophia, has an affair with her. One evening, while he's alone in Lady Bellaston's drawing room, Sophia walks in. He asks her forgiveness for what happened at Upton Inn and proclaims his love for her. She forgives him, and they embrace. But she tells him that her father's displeasure prevents her from marrying him. Later, the enraged Lady Bellaston accuses Tom of carrying on with Sophia behind her back. At the same time, a friend of Lady Bellaston, Lord Fellamar, has fallen in love with Sophia. To remove her rival, Lady Bellaston arranges for Fellamar to abduct and marry Sophia. Tom tries to figure out a way to break off his affair with Lady Bellaston. Nightingale, a young gentleman who has become Tom's friend, surprisingly suggests that Tom propose marriage to her. He does, and Lady Bellaston, believing Tom's just trying to get her money, angrily refuses him. Meanwhile, Squire Western, hearing that Sophia's in London, goes there with Mrs. Western. He finds Sophia just as she's about to be raped by Fellamar. He takes her to his lodgings for safe keeping. Allworthy and Blifil, following the others, arrive in London. Tom goes to Mrs. Fitzpatrick to figure out how to reach Sophia. As he's leaving, he runs into Mr. Fitzpatrick. Jealously believing that Tom is his wife's lover, Fitzpatrick draws his sword. Tom thereupon wounds Fitzpatrick and is taken to prison. Mrs. Waters, who is now traveling with Mr. Fitzpatrick, visits Tom in prison and tells him that Fitzpatrick's wound was slight. Tom now receives a letter from Sophia, who has discovered his affair with Lady Bellaston, saying she never wants to see him again. And Partridge, recognizing Mrs. Waters as Jenny Jones, tells Tom that he slept with his own mother. Meanwhile, Tom's landlady, Mrs. Miller, who is a friend of Squire Allworthy, tells Allworthy of Tom's great generosity and kindness toward her. Allworthy doesn't even want to hear Tom's name. But Allworthy is visited by Mrs. Waters (Jenny Jones), who informs him that Tom Jones is the son of Mrs. Bridget (Allworthy's sister), and so is also Allworthy's nephew and Blifil's half-brother. Allworthy then hears that his sister wrote him a letter revealing that she was Tom's mother, but that the letter had been kept from him by Blifil. He receives a letter from the dying Square, saying that Tom dearly loved Allworthy. Convinced of Blifil's villainy, Allworthy banishes him. Allworthy and Tom have a tender reunion. Western, finding that Tom is the Allworthy heir, becomes enthusiastic about Tom's marrying Sophia. But Sophia, though she loves Tom, is still angry. Tom vows his devotion. Sophia, pretending to obey only her father's wishes, but actually obeying her own heart, accepts him. They marry and return happily to the country, where Western gives them his estate. ^^^^^^^^^^ TOM JONES: THE NARRATOR Many readers find the narrator the most interesting character in Tom Jones. (Some readers identify the narrator with Fielding.) In the first chapter, the narrator compares the novel to a feast and the opening chapters of each book to a menu. The narrator himself is like a very affable host who has invited you to dinner. Genial, intelligent, witty, he's wonderfully well educated (especially in the classics) but never stuffy. Whether criticizing critics and other novelists, or calling for your sympathy in helping him with the impossible task of his narrative, he constantly amuses and charms. In Tom Jones, you feel as if you have had a personal chat with the narrator just by reading his novel. ^^^^^^^^^^ TOM JONES: TOM JONES Tom Jones is the foundling taken in and raised by the wealthy Squire Allworthy. You later learn that he is Mrs. Bridget's son--and thus Allworthy's nephew, Master Blifil's older half-brother, and the heir to the Allworthy estate. Tom Jones is both unheroic and heroic. "Even at his first appearance, it was the universal opinion of all Mr. Allworthy's family, that he was born to be hanged," says the narrator. When you meet him again at age fourteen, "he has been already convicted of three robberies, viz. of robbing an orchard, of stealing a duck out of farmer's yard, and of picking Master Blifil's pocket of a ball.... Tom Jones was universally disliked." But Tom's thefts, and Tom himself, have another side as well. Tom robbed the orchard and stole the duck to help the impoverished gamekeeper, Black George. Tom is often astoundingly generous, underlining Fielding's belief in charity as one of the central Christian virtues. At the novel's end, even Allworthy, an ideal of charity, is amazed by Tom's generosity toward the criminal Black George. Further, unlike Master Blifil, Tom seeks no publicity for his virtues. He gives Mrs. Miller money for her relatives privately, and he's embarrassed by her praise. Nor, unlike so many of the other characters, does Tom have any desire for revenge. He doesn't seek vengeance on Blifil or Black George, even though they've betrayed him. In these ways, Tom resembles his surrogate father, Squire Allworthy. But Tom is also impulsive like Squire Western, his other surrogate father. He has the Squire's hot temper: when called "a beggarly bastard" by Blifil, he bloodies Blifil's nose. He has unbridled animal drives, seldom putting much restraint on his sexual urges. Even as he's feeling pure, elevated love for Sophia Western, he indulges in an affair with Lady Bellaston. Tom Jones is a bildungsroman, a novel about growing up; the novel traces Tom's acquisition of knowledge of the world. Tom slowly comes to temper his impulsiveness with wisdom. When, because of his love for Sophia, he turns down the romantic proposals of Mrs. Fitzpatrick, he demonstrates his maturity. Having acquired wisdom, he almost magically regains Allworthy's love and marries Sophia. Readers vary greatly in their estimation of Tom. Some see him as a virile, high-spirited young man whose character flaws are minor because they never conceal his noble heart. Others are repulsed by such a flawed hero and find unpalatable a novel that evidently celebrates him. Readers also vary in their estimation of Tom as a literary character. Some feel he's realistically portrayed--a character with the mix of strengths and flaws all people possess. Others think that compared to heroes of other great novels, Tom lacks depth. To them, Tom seems portrayed in a kind of shorthand. Fielding doesn't often explore Tom's emotions here, he just describes them in general terms, as if he didn't take them seriously or wasn't especially interested in them. According to one critic, Tom and the other characters have no emotional complexity, and their psychological development seems extremely limited. See if you feel this limitation as you read. Other readers don't find this lack of complexity a defect, because they see Tom as an allegorical figure--more an abstract symbol than a realistic character. According to one writer, "Tom Jones is that universal hero of folk tale and myth--the foundling prince, the king's son raised by wolves, Moses in the bullrushes...." Another writes: The story of Tom Jones's disgrace and redemption, of his arduous journey toward reconciliation with his foster father and marriage with the woman he loves, takes on a broadly allegorical dimension; it is the story of our deep need to live our lives with Wisdom. As you can see, Tom Jones has been interpreted in many ways. It is up to you to determine who the real Tom is. Your evaluation of the book will rest to a considerable degree on your interpretation of the title character. ^^^^^^^^^^ TOM JONES: SQUIRE ALLWORTHY A wealthy landowner, Squire Allworthy finds Tom Jones and raises him as his own son. Generous and kind, Squire Allworthy often represents an idealized image of fatherhood. A kindly man, he can also seem stern and even rather arbitrary. ("Though Mr. Allworthy had the utmost sweetness and benevolence in his smiles, he had great terror in his frowns.") As his name implies, he serves as a God-like image, resembling for some readers the God of the Old Testament. He contrasts with the rash Squire Western in his moderation, urbanity, and wisdom. He also contrasts with the sophisticated but cynical Mrs. Western and Lady Bellaston in his warmth and kindness. Yet for a God-like figure, he seems to some readers very unaware or blind. For example, he doesn't understand Blifil's motives for marrying Sophia--he even believes Blifil has a passionate, erotic desire for her. Some critics feel this blindness is merely a device to serve the plot, while others feel he thus becomes a more complex character. ^^^^^^^^^^ TOM JONES: MASTER BLIFIL Mrs. Bridget's son and Squire Allworthy's nephew, Master Blifil is raised with Tom Jones in the Allworthy household and is the villain of the novel. Prissy and pompous, he seems to act mainly out of selfishness, greed, and jealousy. He plays up to his pious mentors, Thwackum and Square, then enlists them in his plots. He wants to marry Sophia not out of love but out of a desire for the Western estate. He hides the letter from his mother to Squire Allworthy that reveals Tom is really her son and thus Allworthy's nephew and heir. He also lies that Tom was overjoyed when Allworthy seemed about to die--a lie that causes Allworthy to banish Tom for a time. Blifil is indeed villainous. But Blifil's nasty cleverness makes him his own worst enemy. At the novel's conclusion, his treachery is discovered and he--not Tom Jones--is the one banished from the Allworthy estate. ^^^^^^^^^^ TOM JONES: SQUIRE WESTERN Squire Western is Sophia's father and one of the most delightful characters in Tom Jones. A bundle of unbridled instincts who spends much of his time hunting, Western sometimes functions as another father figure for Tom, who shares his vitality and lack of restraint. The squire is crude and boorish, with a violent temper and almost as violent an affection for his friends, relations, and animals. He loves his daughter so much that he comes to prefer her to his hunting dogs--high praise from him. He likes Tom as well. Despite his affections, greed prevents him from letting the couple marry. Instead, he insists Sophia marry Blifil for money. Not until Tom is declared Squire Allworthy's true heir does he agree to Sophia's marrying his young friend. ^^^^^^^^^^ TOM JONES: SOPHIA WESTERN Sophia is Squire Western's daughter, Tom Jones' true love, and the heroine of Tom Jones. She is lovely, kind, and bright, without the biting wit or cynicism of so many others in the novel. The noted twentieth-century novelist Somerset Maugham said Sophia is "...as delightful a young woman as has ever enchanted a reader of fiction. She is simple, but not silly; virtuous, but no prude; she has character, determination and courage; she has a loving heart." The character of Sophia was based on Fielding's first wife, Charlotte Cradock, whom he loved dearly. Sophia's name means wisdom, and in the novel she functions as an emblem of wisdom. Perhaps because of this, some readers find her too idealized. ^^^^^^^^^^ TOM JONES: MRS. BRIDGET (ALLWORTHY) BLIFIL Squire Allworthy's sister and the mother of Master Blifil, she's pompous and sanctimonious, and she despises both her husband, Captain Blifil, and their son. She does, however, bear a surprising affection for the young Tom Jones. That affection is explained at the end of the book when, years after her death, she is revealed as Tom's mother, having conceived him during an affair with a young visitor to the Allworthy estate, Mr. Summer. ^^^^^^^^^^ TOM JONES: CAPTAIN BLIFIL The Captain is Master Blifil's father and Bridget Allworthy's husband. He's introduced into the Allworthy household by his greedy brother, Dr. Blifil, who hopes the Captain can win Bridget's hand and thus be in line to inherit Allworthy's estate. Captain Blifil does marry Bridget, but he has no intention of sharing his luck with his brother. He causes Dr. Blifil to die of sorrow at losing a fortune. Ironically, Captain Blifil himself dies before he can inherit anything. ^^^^^^^^^^ TOM JONES: MR. THWACKUM Thwackum is a pompous tutor who is fond of Blifil but despises Jones, being one of the many who believe Tom was "born to be hanged." As his name implies, he is fond of dispensing punishment. He has many tedious philosophical discussions with his rival, Mr. Square, and is also an unsuccessful suitor to Mrs. Bridget. ^^^^^^^^^^ TOM JONES: MR. SQUARE A resident guest at the Allworthy estate, Square is Mr. Thwackum's companion and rival. He, too, dislikes Jones and fawns over Blifil, and he helps Blifil to have Jones banished. He turns out to be a lover of Molly Seagrim, and an unsuccessful suitor of Mrs. Bridget Blifil. Near the end of the novel, on his deathbed, he writes a letter to Allworthy, which helps Tom Jones regain the Squire's love. ^^^^^^^^^^ TOM JONES: MRS. WESTERN Mrs. Western is Sophia's aunt and Squire Western's sister--a sophisticated lady (though not as sophisticated as she likes to think) who despises her brother's country boorishness. On the subject of Sophia's marriage, however, she and Squire Western agree. Having taken the responsibility for Sophia's education, she expects her niece to marry a wealthy aristocrat. She too pushes Sophia to marry Blifil. ^^^^^^^^^^ TOM JONES: JENNY JONES--MRS. WATERS The supposed mother of Tom Jones, Jenny Jones was hired by Mrs. Bridget Blifil to assume motherhood and bring the foundling to Squire Allworthy's bed. She's then sent away by Allworthy for her supposed infidelity with Partridge. Years later, she turns up as Mrs. Waters, the bawdy wife of an army captain. Rescued from the brutal Ensign Northerton by Tom Jones, she shows her gratitude by seducing her rescuer. (As a result, Tom will briefly fear he's slept with his own mother.) At the end of the book, she reveals Tom's true parentage to Allworthy. ^^^^^^^^^^ TOM JONES: BLACK GEORGE (SEAGRIM) He's the impoverished gamekeeper of Squire Allworthy and, later, of Squire Western. Tom Jones takes the blame for his crimes, and helps him financially. Black George ungratefully repays him by stealing the bank note Allworthy gave Tom on banishing him. Black George offers to help Tom at the end of the book, though, proving he has some loyalty. ^^^^^^^^^^ TOM JONES: MOLLY SEAGRIM Molly is Black George's wild daughter. She's also Tom Jones' first lover. Tom believes, wrongly, that he is the father of her child, then discovers that she has other lovers, including Mr. Square. ^^^^^^^^^^ TOM JONES: PARTRIDGE (LITTLE BENJAMIN) Partridge is the schoolteacher wrongly thought to be Jenny Jones' lover and Tom Jones' father. When his jealous wife dies, he takes to the road. Years later, he runs into the banished Tom and accompanies him, partly out of friendship and partly out of hopes of regaining Allworthy's favor by reconciling the Squire with Tom. Partridge is a nervous, amusing fellow, a scholarly stand-up comic who gives his punch lines in Latin. Faithful if sometimes bothersome, he's been compared to another famous traveling companion of literature, Sancho Panza of the great early-seventeenth-century Spanish novel, Don Quixote, by Miguel de Cervantes. ^^^^^^^^^^ TOM JONES: MRS. (HARRIET) FITZPATRICK She flees with her cousin Sophia to London. She claims to be fleeing her cruel Irish husband, Mr. Fitzpatrick, but she's also running away for a romantic engagement with an Irish nobleman. Her selfishness (she betrays Sophia to gain favor with Western) contrasts with Sophia's nobility. ^^^^^^^^^^ TOM JONES: MR. FITZPATRICK Mrs. Fitzpatrick's husband, he has a violent temper and is chasing his wife. He wrongly suspects Tom of having an affair with his wife and challenges him to a duel, which results in Tom's being thrown in prison. ^^^^^^^^^^ TOM JONES: LADY BELLASTON A wealthy, sophisticated, and utterly selfish friend of Mrs. Western, she gives Sophia a place to stay in London. After hearing Sophia talk about Tom Jones, she develops an infatuation for him, and, using Sophia as a lure, she begins an affair with him. Generous at times--she provides Tom with money and clothes--she's vicious when angry. When Tom breaks off their affair, she does her best to ruin his chances with Sophia. ^^^^^^^^^^ TOM JONES: MRS. MILLER The warm, simple woman who runs the London lodging house where Tom stays, she's a friend of Squire Allworthy and a recipient of his generosity. By singing Tom's praises to Allworthy, she helps him regain Allworthy's favor. ^^^^^^^^^^ TOM JONES: NIGHTINGALE A boarder at Mrs. Miller's and a friend of Tom when he gets to London, he is the lover and eventual husband of Mrs. Miller's daughter Nancy. As his name suggests, he is something of a frivolous social creature, but he proves to be a good and loyal friend to Tom. ^^^^^^^^^^ TOM JONES: SETTING Tom Jones has three basic settings, which provide the background to the three major sections of the novel: The Country (Somersetshire), The Road, and London. They allow Fielding an opportunity to present a panorama of England, and provide a neat scheme for organizing the novel as a whole. THE COUNTRY The Country section of Tom Jones is set in Somersetshire, in Western England, south of the Bristol Channel. This is where Fielding himself grew up, and he conveys his obvious affection for the area, portraying it as a rural paradise. The very name of the mansion on the vast Allworthy estate is Paradise Hall. The other primary setting is the neighboring Western estate, which is similarly wealthy, and serves Squire Western mostly as a kind of hunting lodge. THE ROAD The middle section of Tom Jones takes place along the roads and within the roadside inns between Somersetshire and Upton (at the very upper tip of the Bristol Channel) and between Upton and London. The roads are often dangerous, full of hostile soldiers and occasional bandits. The inns are, in a sense, homes away from home that provide hospitality, warmth, and rest--but for a price. They're loud, boisterous, sometimes friendly, sometimes hostile places, which vary a great deal according to the whim of the innkeeper and the condition of the traveler's pocketbook. The most important of them is Upton Inn, which serves much like the setting of a French farce, with one person coming in the front door as another is leaving by the back door. LONDON The London of Tom Jones is, for the most part, high-society London. You see little of the poverty, filth, and squalor which Charles Dickens would later portray in his novels. You see exquisite drawing rooms, theaters, and costume balls. Heightening the theatrical theme of the novel, this is the kind of setting found in a drawing room stage comedy. ^^^^^^^^^^ TOM JONES: STYLE The style of Tom Jones is one of its greatest pleasures. Witty and ironic, Fielding is the master of the epigram--the brief, clever, pointed remark. Marriages, he says, provide two kinds of pleasures, that of pleasing someone you love, and that of tormenting someone you hate. He employs a vast range of classical allusions. For example, he compares the porters of high-society houses to Cerberus, the dog that guards the gates of hell in Greek mythology. Some of this cleverness is intended to show up the often tedious style of his rival novelist, Samuel Richardson. Some is just his way of showing off--but with such flair that you indulge him. Fielding's style has some of its roots in earlier literature. He calls Tom Jones "a comic epic poem in prose." (Epics are long poems such as The Iliad and The Odyssey, by Homer, and John Milton's Paradise Lost.) To achieve that comic epic effect he often employs the mock-heroic style, which uses the grandiose similes found in epics not to make characters seem heroic but to make fun of them. A typical example is found in Book II, Chapter 4: As fair Grimalkin, who, though the youngest of the feline family, degenerates not in ferocity, from the elder branches of her house, and... is equal in fierceness to the noble tyger himself... With not less fury did Mrs. Partridge fly on the poor pedagogue. Fielding uses his experience as a playwright for scenes of drawing-room comedy or farce. The scenes in Book 13, Chapters 11 and 12, between Sophia, Tom, and Lady Bellaston provide a brilliant example of this theatrical kind of writing. Occasionally, he employs interpolated narrative, which is a story told not by the novel's narrator but by one of the characters (for example, the stories of The Man of the Hill and of Mrs. Fitzpatrick), integrated into the novel. These interpolations are one of Fielding's many innovations in the development of the novel. Finally, Fielding gives you the casual, witty style of the narrator himself in the essays that begin each book of Tom Jones and elsewhere throughout the novel. The narrator's wit is often sharply ironic. He will praise a character, only to have that praise turn to mockery in the face of the character's greed or selfishness. The narrator's humorous observations on the art of swearing, in Book 6, Chapter 9, provide a particularly amusing example of his wit. ^^^^^^^^^^ TOM JONES: FORM AND STRUCTURE Tom Jones is one of the most elaborately plotted, highly structured novels ever written. It consists of eighteen books, each introduced by an opening essay. The eighteen-book arrangement imitates the standard form of an epic. Its plot in part parallels the plots of epics like Homer's Odyssey: a hero leaves his home; he goes on a journey; and after many adventures, he returns home. Tom Jones parallels as well the classic structure of a romance: the hero and heroine meet and fall in love; they are separated; they meet again, reconcile, and marry. Thus the journey structure reflects Tom's banishment and reconciliation with Allworthy, while the romance provides the story of Tom's winning Sophia. Tom Jones is divided into three roughly equal sections of six books each, which reflect Tom's journey: those taking place at home in the Country (Books I-VI), those on the Road (Books VII-XII), and those in London (Books XIII-XVIII). The London books conclude with Tom (and Sophia and many of the other characters) coming home to the country. These three sections also roughly correspond to the three movements of the romance. In the first six books, Tom and Sophia fall in love; in the second six they are separated and Sophia falls out of love with Tom; and in the third six they meet again and Sophia is slowly reconciled to Tom. The culmination of both the journey and the romance is the couple's marriage and return to the country. The Upton Inn Books (IX-X) occur in the exact middle of the novel, and mark a major change between Tom and Sophia. Before Upton Inn, Sophia chases Tom, both on the road and metaphorically. The pursuit reverses at Upton Inn, and from there Tom chases Sophia. A number of critics have noted that Tom Jones is constructed in the neoclassical style popular in the art and architecture of Fielding's day. In neoclassicism, balance and symmetry are of prime importance. In Tom Jones, Fielding made sure that almost every character and plot element is balanced in some way by another. For example, you'll notice how the various relations of Tom at the Allworthy estate are balanced by those of Sophia at the Western estate. Both Western and Allworthy are squires, own valuable estates, are widowed, and have sisters. Western is Sophia's father, and Mrs. Western is her aunt and surrogate mother. Balancing this, Mrs. Bridget Blifil is Tom's mother, and Squire Allworthy is his uncle and surrogate father. Tom is similar to Squire Western, and Sophia is similar to Squire Allworthy. Both Tom and Sophia dislike Blifil--and desire each other. Much of the plotting reflects these kinds of balances. For example, in the London section of Tom Jones, Lady Bellaston hides behind a bed curtain while Mrs. Honour visits Tom. Later, Mrs. Honour hides behind the bed curtain while Lady Bellaston visits Tom. Some readers greatly admire the careful symmetry of Tom Jones. Others find it highly contrived, and therefore annoying and distracting. As you read, note the symmetries and balances and your reactions to them. BASIC STRUCTURES OF TOM JONES -- THE JOURNEY AND THE ROMANCE Country Road London Books Books Books I ------------ VI VII ------------- XII XIII ---------- XVIII ---------------------------------------------------------------- ------ - Tom finds a home - Tom sets off on - Tom finds a "home" J with Allworthy. journey, on the road with Mrs. Miller. O - Tom grows up. and homeless. He - Mrs. Miller U - Tom is banished does not meet reconciles him with R from home by Allworthy in this Allworthy. N Allworthy. section of the - Tom goes home to E novel. Allworthy and the Y country and establishes his own home with Sophia. ---------------------------------------------------------------- ------ - Sophia falls in - Sophia pursues Tom - Tom pursues Sophia love with Tom. to Upton Inn. She through Lady - Tom falls in love finds Tom in bed with Bellaston. with Sophia. Mrs. Waters and - Tom meets Sophia at R - Tom and Sophia flees. Lady Bellaston's. O are separated - Tom pursues Sophia - Sophia flees Tom M by parents. to London. But Tom again because of A and Sophia do not his infidelity with N meet in this section Lady Bellaston. C of the novel. - Tom and Sophia are E reconciled by "parents": Western, Mrs. Miller, and Allworthy. - Tom and Sophia marry. ---------------------------------------------------------------- ------^^^^^^^^^^ TOM JONES: POINT OF VIEW Point of view is one of the most fascinating aspects of Tom Jones. It's intricately related to another intriguing aspect of the novel, Fielding's brilliant narrative technique. Basically, Fielding employs a third-person, omniscient (all-knowing) point of view. He shifts the focus from one character (usually Tom) to another, and sometimes adopts a more general vantage point. To heighten suspense, Fielding often limits the focus of his narrative. For example, in the Upton Inn section of the novel, the narrator relates that a lady and her maid arrive at the inn. You must determine that they are Mrs. Fitzpatrick and her maid. A more important example is the question of Tom's parentage, which Fielding keeps hidden from Tom--and from you--as long as possible. In fact, Fielding is so clever at hiding and disguising important information that sometimes you can't fully appreciate his cleverness until you've read Tom Jones a second time. The encounter between Blifil and Tom in Book V, Chapter 9, provides one example of a scene that yields an entirely different interpretation the second time you read it. We will explore this further in The Story section. ^^^^^^^^^^ TOM JONES: THEMES The following are themes of Tom Jones. 1. THE HUNT Fielding effectively uses a metaphor taken from the sport of hunting. He creates the image of people driven by passions and instincts to pursue others, the way hunters pursue a fox. In the first half of the novel, Sophia pursues Tom Jones, metaphorically and literally, and in the second half Tom pursues Sophia. Squire Western spends most of his time hunting fox, but when he finds Sophia gone, he sets out to hunt her down as well. Fielding elaborates this theme into a complex pattern of pursuits and flights. The hunted can also be a hunter, and the roles can suddenly reverse--as with Sophia and Tom. The hunter can reach his prey and find her trapped by another hunter, as when Squire Western finds Sophia as she's being abducted by Lord Fellamar. Fielding elaborates this theme more subtly. When Sophia goes hunting with Squire Western, Fielding shows you her affection for her father. She then falls from her horse into the arms of Tom Jones. In this way you're given a metaphor for the way Sophia's passion pulls her from her father and causes her to fall for Tom. The sport of hunting becomes a metaphor for the relationships in the novel as a whole. 2. THE THEATER The world's a stage, the narrator writes, borrowing a theme used by William Shakespeare and other authors. Fielding spent many years writing for the theater, and in Tom Jones he presents the spectacle of people playing false roles and wearing masks as though they were actors. For example, Tom meets Lady Bellaston at a masquerade, where she greets masked friends as though they were in her drawing room having tea. Reversing this, when she finds Tom and Sophia in her drawing room, she and Tom must act like strangers to each other. Just as the theme of the hunt is a rural one that predominates in the first half of the book, the theme of the theater is an urban one that predominates in the second half. The themes overlap in the Upton Inn chapters of the novel (Books 9 and 10) where the theatrical aspect of the story takes on the cruder, more frenzied quality of a farce. 3. MARRIAGE FOR LOVE VS. MARRIAGE FOR MONEY With this theme, Fielding explores both English class prejudice and the question of children's duty to their parents vs. the need to follow their own desires. Sophia wants to marry Tom. But because Tom has no money or lineage, Squire Western thwarts her desires and imprisons her. Even though Western loves Sophia dearly, his greed makes him demand she marry Blifil for his money. Sophia in turn is torn between her love for her father and her desire for her own happiness. Fielding presents many other instances of this conflict as well--for example, the Quaker who is angry because his daughter married for love rather than money. Fielding attacks the cold view of Squire Western and Mrs. Western that sees marriage as an alliance between estates rather than an expression of love between husband and wife. Yet Tom turns out to have aristocratic lineage, and so marries in his own class. Do you think Fielding has aristocratic prejudices, after all? 4. WISDOM The name Sophia comes from a Greek word meaning wisdom, and it's wisdom that Tom Jones must attain before he can marry Sophia and achieve happiness. Wisdom was seen in Plato's philosophy as the highest ideal a man could achieve; this ideal is often referred to by Allworthy as prudence and, occasionally, discretion. A major theme of the novel is Tom's struggle to achieve these qualities. When, near the end of the novel, he spurns the erotic offers of Mrs. Fitzpatrick and Mrs. Waters, he shows that he's gained the wisdom he needs in order to gain the symbol of wisdom itself, Sophia. 5. TOM JONES AND THE BIBLE There are many parallels between Tom Jones and the Bible. In many ways, Tom resembles the Prodigal Son whose story is told in Luke: an impetuous, wild young man who is eventually reunited with his father. Even more important are the parallels with the story of Adam. Tom and Sophia are banished from their country paradise just as Adam and Eve were banished from Paradise. Fielding emphasizes this parallel by calling Allworthy's mansion Paradise Hall and by quoting John Milton's epic Paradise Lost to compare Tom to Adam: "The world, as Milton phrases it, lay all before him, and Jones, no more than Adam, had any man to whom he might resort for comfort or assistance." In this way, the country is associated with Eden, in contrast to the harshness of the road and the city. Tom and Sophia's return there is portrayed as a return to paradise and provides a metaphor for the happiness that love brings. In addition, Fielding draws parallels between Allworthy and God, emphasizing his compassion. Tom plays the Good Samaritan to a highway robber, underscoring Christ's message of charity. Perhaps most importantly, Fielding compares the narrator with God, and calls the novel his world, turning the book into a metaphor for the universe itself. 6. MAN AS INHERENTLY SELFISH: GREED, JEALOUSY, AND REVENGE Fielding portrays many of the characters as driven by the motives of greed, jealousy and revenge. Tom Jones' chief villain, Blifil, is jealous of Tom, greedily desires Sophia for her estate, then wants revenge on her for her rejection of him. Fielding provides many other instances of these motives in the novel. Mr. Fitzpatrick is jealous of his wife, even though he doesn't particularly love her and only married her out of greed. Mrs. Deborah Wilkins, Mrs. Bridget's maid, takes revenge on those beneath her for the abuse she suffers from those above her. The lower classes are jealous of the upper classes, and greedy for their money, while the upper classes are jealous of each other. To some readers, most of the characters in Tom Jones seem relentlessly selfish and mean. Others think most are neither completely evil nor totally good. Which view do you support? 7. BALANCE, SYMMETRY, AND THE SEARCH FOR ORDER IN THE UNIVERSE The eighteenth century is often called the Age of Reason, reflecting a belief in an inherent order in the universe and in the ability of man's reason to discover that order. Fielding compares the narrator to God and the novel to God's world. He gives that world many kinds of balance and symmetry, conveying the image in an ordered universe. Yet Fielding also presents many instances of far-fetched coincidences, seeming to convey an image of the universe as arbitrary. ^^^^^^^^^^ TOM JONES: BOOK I In the first chapter of Tom Jones, Fielding compares the book to a feast and his headings to the menu. In the second chapter, he launches into what many readers consider the best-plotted novel in English literature. The opening part of the novel relates the discovery of the foundling, Tom Jones, his kind treatment by Squire Allworthy, and the attempts to find his parents. You are introduced to the kindly Allworthy, a wealthy English squire (a type of country gentleman). Having lost his wife and children years before, the squire now lives on his magnificent estate with his spinster sister, Miss Bridget Allworthy. Going to bed one evening after returning from a long trip, he discovers a baby asleep beneath the bedcovers. NOTE: FOUNDLINGS The full title of the novel is The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling. Foundlings were a popular charitable cause in Fielding's day. The person of unspecified parentage is also a familiar figure in literature, including Moses (a peasant boy found and raised by royalty) and Oedipus (a royal son found and raised by a peasant) and beyond. Thematically, the story of a foundling has broad appeal. The identity of one's parents is closely linked to one's self-identity. Fielding also uses the foundling theme to comment on the idea of merit based on lineage or class. Note how Squire Western's attitude toward a marriage between Tom and Sophia changes after he discovers Tom is really Allworthy's nephew and heir. Allworthy summons the elderly maid, Mrs. Deborah Wilkins, to care for the infant. (In eighteenth-century England the term "Mrs." could be applied to any older woman, including single women like Mrs. Deborah.) Unable to discover the child's parents, he tells his sister, Miss Bridget, that he plans to raise him as his own. He gives the boy his own name: Tom. Oddly, the dour Miss Bridget praises his generosity. Mrs. Deborah, taking her cue from Miss Bridget, falls into raptures. While praising her master, and lavishing affection on Tom, Mrs. Deborah rails against Tom's mother and determines to find out who she is. Fielding compares Mrs. Deborah to a kite--a great bird of prey--setting all the other birds trembling as she swoops around the town. He points out that slaves and flatterers--like Mrs. Deborah--often vent the same abuse on those below them that they take from those above them. NOTE: THE MOCK HEROIC One type of satire Fielding uses is called the mock-heroic. It employs the grand descriptions and comparisons found in epics in order to mock the subject at hand. The description of Mrs. Deborah advancing on the town is a good example of the mock-heroic style: Not otherwise than when a kite, tremendous bird, is beheld by the feathered generation soaring aloft, and hovering over their heads, the amorous dove, and every innocent little bird, spread wide the alarm, and fly trembling to their hiding-places. He proudly beats the air, conscious of his dignity, and meditates intended mischief. So when the approach of Mrs. Deborah was proclaimed through the street, all the inhabitants ran trembling into their houses.... Note the extended comparison between Mrs. Deborah and the kite, and between the townspeople and the other birds. Also note the high-flown style, which sarcastically mocks Mrs. Deborah. These are both typical of the mock-heroic style. You will find many examples of this style as you read. Rumors about Jenny Jones, a schoolmaster's servant, lead Mrs. Deborah to settle on her as Tom's mother. Jenny has earned the town's hostility by learning Latin from the schoolmaster and wearing a silk dress. NOTE: The bizarrely incongruous reasons for the townspeople's jealousy--Jenny's knowing Latin and wearing silk--are a typically wry Fielding touch. Also typical is the motivation of jealousy--watch how often it comes up in the novel. Do you think jealousy is as important a motivation as Fielding makes it? Is he being overly cynical or is he realistic? Amazingly, and to Mrs. Deborah's delight, Jenny confesses. Mrs. Deborah and the townspeople--who have gathered to enjoy the scene--hold forth against Jenny, uppity servants in general, and silk dresses. Notice how Fielding sets up a contrast between Mrs. Deborah's handling of Jenny ("she began an oration with the words, 'You audacious strumpet!'") and Allworthy's. Fielding's subtle satire of the townspeople is worth noting as well. When Mrs. Deborah invades the town, the people tremble, and your sympathies shift to them. But when Mrs. Deborah attacks Jenny, they vent their abuse on the girl as well, applauding the very beating they themselves fear. Mrs. Deborah hauls Jenny before Allworthy. Strictly, but with compassion, Allworthy lectures Jenny and offers to take care of the infant. Jenny weeps with gratitude, but a solemn vow prevents her from revealing the identity of the father. She assures him the man is out of reach and promises to reveal his name when appropriate. Allworthy, satisfied, gives her money to move away. When the townspeople hear of this, they turn on Allworthy himself. Rumors fly that he is the child's father. Meanwhile, Miss Bridget and Mrs. Deborah listen at the key hole (as they do regularly, you gather). Mrs. Deborah is critical of Allworthy's leniency and says she'll discover the father's identity. Miss Bridget condemns her maid's inquisitiveness (while being inquisitive herself) and even praises Jenny for her vow of silence. Maid and mistress reconcile with a tirade against men in general. Fielding has moved the plot along swiftly and introduced some of the novel's themes. He offers a searing portrayal of pompousness and spite with Mrs. Deborah. Balancing her, he shows the kindness, generosity and compassion of Allworthy. He has also introduced the themes of displaced vengeance, envy, and the class system. He's left you wondering who the child's father is and why Miss Bridget shows such compassion, as well as what will become of Jenny Jones. NOTE: Fielding is considered a master of plot construction. Some readers, however, while admiring the plot of Tom Jones, believe that it dominates the book to excess, that Fielding sacrifices emotional depth and even credibility to keep his plot moving along. As you read further, you'll be able to make your own judgment. The generous Allworthy entertains many guests at his estate. He especially favors men of learning. Two brothers, Captain and Dr. Blifil, come to stay, and encouraged by his brother, the Captain marries Miss Bridget so he can inherit the Allworthy estate. Having gained position, he then makes his brother feel so unwelcome that Dr. Blifil leaves and dies of a broken heart. Notice the way Fielding toys with the Captain (and you) when describing the Captain's love for Miss Bridget. "Long before he had discovered any flattering symptoms in Miss Bridget, he had been greatly enamoured; that is of Mr. Allworthy's house and gardens." Also, the notion of the scheming Captain's brother suffering from a broken heart caused by disappointed greed is wonderfully ludicrous. NOTE: WILLIAM HOGARTH In his humorous depiction of Miss Bridget, Fielding doesn't describe her, referring instead to a woman in a Hogarth picture. William Hogarth (1697-1764) was a renowned painter and engraver and a friend of Fielding's. His work, like Fielding's, was often bitingly satirical. Fielding says Miss Bridget served as a model for the woman in a Hogarth print, an ugly lady who has a starved foot-boy carry her prayer book. The comparison describes not only Miss Bridget's ugliness but her pious selfishness as well. Fielding's pleas of authorial incompetence make her seem even more awful--she's so ugly he can't even manage a description of her. Fielding often refers to Hogarth's work in Tom Jones. Looking at Hogarth's paintings and engravings can help you imagine the costumes and settings of the novel. Hogarth's famous works include two series of paintings, A Harlot's Progress (1731-32) and A Rake's Progress (1735), and the six paintings called Marriage A la Mode (1743). ^^^^^^^^^^ TOM JONES: BOOK II The narrator devotes the first chapter of Book II to the theory of narrative. In the following chapters, he introduces Blifil, Mrs. Bridget's son, who is raised with Tom, and relates the dismissal of Partridge, Tom's supposed father. NOTE: Fielding devotes the first chapter of each book to an essay, usually on a subject related to writing: on the theory of narrative, critics, those who try to write novels, plagiarism, and so on. Although many readers feel these chapters contain some of Fielding's best writing, later novelists generally abandoned this convention of intermittent essays not closely related to the plot. Eight months after the wedding, Miss Bridget (now Mrs. Bridget Blifil) gives birth to a boy. Mr. Allworthy offers to raise him with the foundling, whom he has given his own first name, Tom, and Jenny's last name, Jones. Despite the displeasure of Captain Blifil, Tom Jones and young Master Blifil are raised together. NOTE: A foil is a character who highlights, by contrast, another character. By having young Blifil raised with Tom Jones, Fielding has set up a way of illuminating his protagonist. As the two boys grow up, note how Blifil contrasts with Tom. Fielding's use of foil characters is one of many ways in which he makes his plot exhibit the neoclassical ideal of balance and symmetry. Mrs. Deborah continues her restless search for Tom Jones' father. Fortune and spite play into her hands. Jenny Jones had worked as a servant to a schoolteacher, Mr. Partridge. Mr. Partridge's jealous wife believed that he had an affair with Jenny and kicked her out of the house. When Jenny confessed to being Tom's mother, her suspicions were confirmed. She badgered her husband so much that he confessed to an affair with Jenny. Mrs. Deborah brings the news to the Allworthy household. NOTE: Note the discussion about charity between Captain Blifil and Allworthy in Chapter 5. Charity is one of the central Christian virtues, the greatest, according to Saint Paul. Fielding presents a similar view. One of Allworthy's most noble attributes is his charity, demonstrated many times in the novel. You'll notice this theme again as the story progresses. Squire Allworthy, the town magistrate, summons Mr. Partridge before him. Mrs. Partridge testifies that Partridge has confessed his guilt to her. But Partridge claims he only confessed because his wife had convicted him anyway and was making his existence a living hell. Enraged, Mrs. Partridge testifies that she found Partridge and Jenny in bed together and accuses her husband of wife-beating. Allworthy convicts Partridge and sadly dismisses him, withdrawing his salary. As a result, the Partridges fall on hard times. Mrs. Partridge eventually dies of smallpox, and Partridge moves away. Meanwhile, the marriage between Captain Blifil and Bridget has become unhappy. Marriages, says Fielding, usually provides one of two pleasures: the joy of pleasing someone you love, or the satisfaction of tormenting someone you hate. The Captain and Bridget's marriage has lost the honey of the first, and even the salt of the second. Captain Blifil consoles himself with dreams of the wealth he will inherit. One day, blissfully occupied this way, he dies. In death, according to the narrator, he "regained the lost affections of the wife." ^^^^^^^^^^ TOM JONES: BOOK III Years go by. Tom and Blifil are now fourteen. As to Tom, "even at his first appearance, it was the universal opinion of all Mr. Allworthy's family, that he was born to be hanged.... He had been already convicted of three robberies, viz. of robbing an orchard, of stealing a duck out of a farmer's yard, and of picking Master Blifil's pocket of a ball." His vices appear all the worse contrasted to Blifil's virtues. Blifil was "a lad of a remarkable disposition; sober, discreet and pious, beyond his age. Qualities which gained him the love of everyone who knew him, whilst Tom Jones was universally disliked." At least, that's the way things seem on the surface. But in fact Tom robbed the orchard and stole the duck from a generous motive: to help his friend the impoverished gamekeeper, Black George. Another instance of Tom's generosity comes when, hunting with Black George, he and the gamekeeper trespass beyond the Allworthy estate and are caught poaching from their neighbor, Squire Western. Because George would lose his job if discovered, Tom covers up for him. As punishment, Tom is beaten severely by his tutor, the reverend Mr. Thwackum. Allworthy gives Tom a horse to compensate for the beating. Notice how clearly Fielding has portrayed his characters. Tom is exuberant, mischievous, but generous (toward George)--and in that way, at least, like Allworthy. Blifil is the teacher's pet, conniving for praise. Mr. Thwackum is vindictive, pompous, with a touch of cruelty. Mr. Allworthy is right-minded but generous. Fielding also introduces Mr. Square, who engages in lengthy philosophical discussions with Thwackum. About the only thing the two agree on is their intense dislike of Tom Jones. NOTE: Like many other writers Fielding often uses the names of his characters to reveal something about them. For example, Allworthy's name indicates his general merit; the name Thwackum seems to imply a taste for dispensing spankings; Tom Jones' name may indicate his commonness, his anonymity, or his universality. The next book introduces the heroine, Sophia, whose name comes from the Greek word for wisdom. You'll find other names that suggest some aspect of a character further on in the novel. With his virtues, Tom also has a temper. When called "a beggarly bastard" by Blifil, he bloodies Blifil's nose. Summoned before Allworthy, Blifil distracts him by telling him about Black George. (Notice Blifil's cleverness, often called cunning in the novel.) Allworthy dismisses George, both for poaching and for letting Tom take the blame. Tom secretly helps the poor gamekeeper, selling his own horse to help pay George's bills. Again Fielding stresses Tom's generosity. He further emphasizes Tom's similarity to Allworthy by having Tom give away the same horse Allworthy gave him. Because of his generosity, the townspeople and servants take a great liking to Tom. So, too, does Mrs. Blifil. (Pay close attention when you read about her affection for Tom--Fielding is giving you a hint.) She comes to despise her son Blifil because he reminds her of her husband. Meanwhile, both Thwackum and Square have taken a great liking to her--out of hopes of gaining her estate. Mrs. Blifil does not care to marry again, but she greatly enjoys Thwackum and Square's attentions, and flirts with both. Fielding presents Mrs. Blifil as a kind of passionate spinster, a wallflower with a tremendous romantic drive. As you'll discover, she had an affair before the novel opened, and she showed great passion for Captain Blifil for a while. Perhaps she also has an affair with Square, as one critic has suggested. (Fielding is often very subtle and only drops hints. What hints can you find to support this contention?) The irony is that most of the other characters think she has a crush on Tom Jones, whom she loves for an entirely different reason, as you'll discover at the end of the novel. Tom Jones, meanwhile, befriends Squire Western, his neighbor. Despite the fact it was on Western's land that Tom and Black George had been poaching, Tom hopes to convince Western to help poor George. For this he turns to Squire Western's daughter Sophia. ^^^^^^^^^^ TOM JONES: BOOK IV You are introduced to the heroine, Sophia Western--a beautiful, charming girl of eighteen. The narrator relates the reasons that she has come to love Tom Jones and dislike Blifil. NOTE: Sophia is based on Fielding's first wife, Charlotte Cradock (he alludes to her in his description), who had died years before he wrote Tom Jones and whom he had loved devotedly. Sophia has had a more worldly education than Tom, having spent three years away from the country with her aunt. But she is still somewhat naive and extremely warm-hearted. Some readers find limitations in Fielding's description of Sophia. He seems to hop from the mock-heroic (the opening of Chapter 4) to the maudlin. This points up a more general criticism, that Fielding demonstrates much greater skill at satirizing what he dislikes than praising what he admires. What do you think? The narrator goes back in time. When Sophia was thirteen, Tom gave her a bird that he had raised and taught to sing, and Sophia became very fond of it. One day, jealous Master Blifil sets the bird free. Heartbroken, Sophia cries out. Tom tries to rescue the bird from a tree, but the branch breaks and he falls into the canal below. Blifil claims he let the bird loose to give it freedom, and he is commended by Thwackum and Square (though for different reasons, of course). Squire Western, Allworthy, and Sophia praise Tom. Sophia's affection for Tom intensifies, as does her dislike of Blifil. Here Fielding demonstrates some differences between Tom and Blifil. Tom gives the bird to Sophia out of his unselfish affection for her. On the other hand, even Blifil's attraction to Sophia is selfish. Jealous of her affection for Tom, he lets the bird go, even though it hurts the person whose affection he craves. Tom cares for others while Blifil cares only for himself. NOTE: THE BIRD AS A SYMBOL Fielding uses the scene of the escaping bird to shed light on Tom, Sophia, and Blifil. The bird also serves more specifically as a symbol for Tom Jones, which is why Fielding had his heroine name the bird "Tom." When Sophia hugs the bird, she's also expressing her affection for Tom. Blifil perceives this and maliciously sends the bird away from her, thereby, at least in his jealous mind, sending Tom away from her. You should notice, too, Fielding's description of the bird's flight: "The foolish animal no sooner perceived itself at liberty, than forgetting all the favours it had received from Sophia, it flew directly from her, and perched on a bough at some distance." As you continue the novel, see how this forgetfulness and desire for liberty remind you of Tom. Perhaps because he's often treated as an outsider, Tom seems isolated, untamed, like the bird. He must tame himself before he can earn Sophia. As the next years go by, Sophia's affection for Tom turns to love. Tom, though admiring and liking Sophia, doesn't return her love, and fails to notice her devotion. Tom asks Sophia, as a friend, to help Black George. She gladly says she'll try. When Tom thanks her by kissing her hand, she falls head over heels in love with him. By playing her father's favorite tunes for him that evening, she obtains the favor. Squire Western hires Black George as his gamekeeper. Here Fielding presents two instances of devotion--an important theme in the book. Sophia's devotion to Tom helps him gain a difficult favor for Black George. Squire Western's devotion to his daughter makes him hire the very gamekeeper he had found poaching on his land. Western's devotion to Sophia is important because it makes even more bewildering his attitude about her marriage. He wants Sophia to marry for reasons of money and class, rather than for her own happiness. Fielding also shows the two ties of affection that will tear at Sophia as the novel progresses--her love for her father and her love for Tom Jones. The narrator now discloses the reason that Tom is not in love with Sophia. He's infatuated with Black George's wild daughter Molly Seagrim. She's seduced the shy young man, playing her role so well that Tom believes he was the seducer. (Does Molly's skill at playing her role mean that she's played it before? Fielding drops a hint here.) Molly becomes pregnant, and to hide her condition, wears to church a fine dress that Sophia had given her. As she leaves church, the envious women of the village hiss, curse, and throw rocks at her. Molly turns on them, and a battle ensues. (Fielding uses his best mock-heroic style to describe the battle.) While Molly's a strong, well-built girl, the crowd is too much for her. But Tom comes to the rescue. At Squire Western's the next day, Tom hears that Allworthy has summoned Molly to find out who her lover is. Tom quickly leaves. Western decides Tom's the culprit, and jokes with the local minister, Parson Supple about him. He laughs that Allworthy himself had a lower-class lover. For Allworthy must be Tom's real father, or why would he have raised him? Sophia, faint, begs to be excused. Tom tells Allworthy that he's Molly's lover. The squire lectures him sternly. This isn't nearly enough for Thwackum, who condemns Allworthy's mercy and rails against Tom. Square hates Tom even more than Thwackum does; the narrator intimates that Square has private reasons for his hatred. Square tells Allworthy that now he can understand why Tom's been so generous to Black George, Molly's father. Allworthy, disturbed, admits that Square's innuendos may be correct. Here are two good examples of Fielding's skill at spinning a plot. He's hinted that Square has a particular reason to hate Tom now that Tom has been discovered to be Molly's lover. He's also set up a reason why Allworthy might not believe Tom's later expressions of love for him. Both of these suggestions will be important further on in the novel. Sophia resolves to give up even thinking of Tom Jones. But when she meets him, the symptoms of love return. Squire Western has grown fonder and fonder of Sophia--so fond that he comes to love her even more than his hunting dogs. In order to enjoy them both, he takes Sophia hunting. She dislikes the sport, but goes to keep her father from breaking his neck. Instead, she almost breaks her own, for during the chase she falls off her horse. Tom Jones catches her, cushioning her fall, but breaks his arm in the process. NOTE: Here you see a metaphor that will become important throughout Tom Jones--the portrayal of life, and love, as hunts. To Fielding, people are carried off by their emotions like hunters on horseback. Sophia joins the hunt out of love for her father, but she ends up falling into the arms of Tom Jones. She'll spend the next section of the novel hunting him down. Tom is taken to Mr. Western's, where a physician tends him. Charmed by his gallantry (and perhaps by his physique), Sophia falls further in love with him. Tom, as he holds her in his arms, finds that he's madly in love with her as well. Sophia's maid, Mrs. Honour, tells her that a few days earlier she had found Tom kissing a muff (a hand warmer) of Sophia's. Tom rhapsodized about Sophia, giving Mrs. Honour money to keep his love secret. (Mrs. Honour pockets the money but seems notably unbribed.) As Mrs. Honour tells Sophia this, Sophia blushes and loves Tom even more. ^^^^^^^^^^ TOM JONES: BOOK V Tom Jones recuperates at Squire Western's, where Allworthy gives him a sermon, and Thwackum and Square lecture him. Squire Western serenades him with his hunting horn, and barges in to visit, not caring whether Tom is awake or asleep. The most welcome visitor is Sophia, who plays the harpsichord for him. From her attentiveness, Tom suspects that she loves him as he does her. Yet Tom's suspicion that Sophia shares his romantic feelings leaves him uneasy--because he knows there's little future in such a relationship. Squire Western likes Tom--so much he even offers him a horse. But he would never let his daughter marry a man who wasn't an aristocrat, who didn't have money. Squire Western wants to increase his estate by marrying Sophia to a wealthy heir. Tom knows that Squire Allworthy wouldn't approve of such an unequal match, either. He doesn't want to do anything to injure his friend or his benefactor, so he tries to put Sophia out of his mind. He turns his thoughts back to Molly. NOTE: It is difficult for us to fully understand how important and rigid the class system in England was in Fielding's day. But its influence was all-pervasive. Because marriage was often seen to be as much a business arrangement (the merging of two fortunes) as an affair of the heart, to marry below one's social class seemed self destructive. Such marriages were sure to be criticized--as was Fielding's second marriage to his late wife's maid. As for Sophia, she now constantly wears the muff Tom had kissed. One evening, while she's playing the harpsichord, the muff falls over her fingers and ruins her playing. The irritable Squire Western flings it into the fire. Sophia jumps up and recovers the muff from the flames. Tom, understanding that she loves him, falls in love with her again. Tom visits Molly, bringing her money and promises of more, in hopes this will satisfy his debt to her. Enraged, she cries that he had promised to marry her, and that she loves him. But just as she's exclaiming that she will forever hate the whole male sex, the closet curtain falls open to reveal Square, naked, ludicrously trying to hide among her dresses. Tom laughs, but promises not to reveal Square. He later finds that Molly has had another lover as well, and that he is just as likely as Tom to have fathered the child. Tom now feels free to love Sophia. But he still knows that neither Squire Western nor Squire Allworthy would let him marry her. He falls into depression. Though his distress goes unnoticed by Squire Western, Sophia discerns it and even his reasons for it. The couple meet beside the same canal into which, years before, Tom fell while trying to rescue Sophia's bird. In a scene of comic confusion, they resolve not to speak of their love--and so speak of it. While staying at Squire Western's, Tom receives a summons from home. He arrives to find Allworthy very ill. Allworthy reads his will, leaving most of the estate to Master Blifil, a generous annual stipend to Tom, and some money to the others. Notice Fielding's contrast between Allworthy and Western. Both are widowers, squires, estate owners, and substitute fathers to Tom. Here again Fielding shows his taste for symmetry and balance. The two men also serve as different models for Tom. Western, like Tom, has unbridled emotions and drives. Animal-like and wild, he spends most of his time hunting. Allworthy (like Sophia) represents wisdom, a wisdom that Tom must acquire to achieve happiness. It is significant that in this part of the book Tom spends most of his time hunting with Western. Square, Thwackum, and Mrs. Deborah stew with disappointment over their share of Allworthy's estate. Allworthy's attorney, Mr. Dowling, arrives. He brings the news that Mrs. Bridget, who was away on a trip, has died. Unlike his sister, Allworthy recovers. On hearing of the good news about his guardian, Tom Jones celebrates by drinking and carousing. Blifil upbraids Tom, offended that he can celebrate while his mother has died. Tom apologizes, but Blifil, hurt, insults him about not even knowing who his parents are. They scuffle but are brought to a truce by Thwackum and Square. NOTE: As the narrator intimates, this quarrel between Tom and Blifil will play an important role in the plot. Up to this point, Tom loved Blifil as a brother, and Blifil, if only out of duty, had restrained his dislike for Tom. Now their relationship worsens. Furthermore, many readers have cited this scene as an example of Fielding's cleverness, because upon a second reading, it takes on entirely different meanings. Mark it and reread it after you've discovered who Tom's parents really are. Many other scenes also have other meanings when read a second time. That evening Tom walks in the garden, dreaming of Sophia. Molly happens by, and she and Tom retreat into the grove. Fielding explains, "Jones probably thought one woman better than none, and Molly as probably imagined two men to be better than one." The narrator says that many readers will dislike this passage, and many have. They find it hard to care about the romantic agony of a crossed lover, if he becomes distracted that easily. Others note that Jones believes he's permanently barred from Sophia and is merely taking what Molly offers. How do you feel? Blifil and Thwackum spy Jones and a woman going into the bushes and try to find them. Jones comes up to them so that Molly can escape, and he fights them in as great "a Battle as can possibly be fought without the Assistance of Steel or Cold Iron." He's rescued by Squire Western, who's enraged by an uneven fight. Sophia comes by and finds her father, Tom, and Blifil, and Thwackum strewn about on the ground. She faints, and Tom carries her to a stream, where she revives. Squire Western embraces Tom with gratitude. "He called him the preserver of Sophia, and declared there was nothing, except her, or his estate, which he would not give him; but upon recollection, he afterwards excepted his fox-hounds, the Chevalier, and Miss Slouch (for so he called his favourite mare)." Here Fielding further demonstrates his brilliant comic technique. When Western says he'd give Tom anything but Sophia or his estate, Fielding shows Western's class prejudices against Tom. But Fielding is amusing as well. He describes Western's gratitude slowly wearing off--as he puts his fox-hounds, his favorite stallion, and his favorite mare on his list as well. NOTE: This scene with Tom and Molly will be echoed later on in the novel, in the section at Upton Inn. There Sophia will be furious with Tom's fall from virtue; here she seems patient. When Thwackum tells of Tom's going off with another woman, she merely claims faintness and asks to go home. Some readers feel that Sophia, like Allworthy, often seems too patient and good to be true. How do you feel? ^^^^^^^^^^ TOM JONES: BOOK VI Fielding opens Book VI with an essay about love. The second chapter introduces Mrs. Western, Squire Western's sister, who frequently stays with him. She's spent many years in the city and finds her brother crude and a bit stupid. The joke Fielding plays is that although Mrs. Western is more perceptive than Squire Western, she isn't perceptive enough: in his blundering way he often understands more than she does. Throughout the novel they have many amusing dialogues, hurling insults at each other. Mrs. Western, unlike her brother, perceives the symptoms of love in Sophia. She informs Western that Sophia is in love with Blifil. NOTE: FIELDING'S "DOUBLE IRONY" Squire Western and Mrs. Western provide an example of what the critic William Empson calls Fielding's "double irony." Many authors employ irony to satirize one character through another: character A's stupidity is satirized in comparison with character B's intelligence, for example. With Fielding, you often find both characters satirized by the other--each is misguided, stupid, selfish, or greedy, but in his or her own way. The shouting matches between Squire Western and Mrs. Western provide a good example of this double irony. Western's boorishness is shown by his inability to perceive what his sister perceives: that Sophia is in love. But Mrs. Western isn't any better. In her own arrogance and insensitivity she assumes that Sophia's in love with Blifil, when she's really in love with Jones. Thwackum and Square's absurd philosophical competitions provide another example of double irony, yielding what Fielding called "the true ridiculous." See if you can find other examples as you read. Cursing his daughter only the minute before for falling in love without his permission, Western blissfully dances in the hall. He commissions Mrs. Western to give his blessings to Sophia. Squire Western invites Allworthy to dinner and announces Sophia's passion for Blifil. Allworthy says he'd be pleased with the match, if Blifil is interested. (This seems a minor detail to Western). Blifil, indifferent to Sophia but greedy for the Western estate (as his father was greedy for the Allworthy), indicates his pleasure. He tells Allworthy "that matrimony was a subject on which he had not yet thought; but that he was so sensible of his friendly and fatherly care, that he should in all things submit himself to his pleasure." This theme is repeated throughout the novel: marriage to please parents (which means making a good social and economic match), vs. marriage for love. Here, Blifil and Tom Jones provide contrasting positions. Tom, lower class and without lineage, wants to marry for love, against both fathers' wishes. Blifil, having both lineage and money, marries for wealth (and supposedly to please his family). Fielding believes that if the families were truly concerned with their children's happiness, they would wish them to marry for love rather than for money. Meanwhile, Mrs. Western tells Sophia that she and Squire Western approve of Sophia's romance with Blifil. Sophia cries out that she loves Tom Jones. Mrs. Western flies into a rage--can Sophia really think of disgracing her family by marrying an illegitimate man? How would her father feel about such a marriage? Sophia begs her not to tell Western, and her aunt says she won't--but only if Sophia promises to go ahead with the engagement to Blifil. Sophia consoles herself with the hope that she might come to love Blifil. She promises but, once alone, weeps bitterly. NOTE: FIELDING'S FRIENDS AND RELATIVES At the opening of Chapter 5, Sophia is reading a book, which she praises to Mrs. Western. Most scholars agree that the book is The Adventures of David Simple, by Fielding's sister Sarah, for which Fielding wrote the introduction. The passage is an amusing advertisement for the novel, and a joke about the Fieldings' social position. Sophia praises the book and calls the author "a lady of fashion," who "doth honour to her sex." Mrs. Western indicates that the author is from a "very good family" but not part of the really fashionable crowd. Fielding inserts other friends and relatives into Tom Jones--for instance, his wife Charlotte (as Sophia), benefactors George Littleton and Ralph Allen (as Allworthy), and good friends artist William Hogarth and actor David Garrick. Mrs. Western may be based partly on Fielding's imposing cousin Lady Mary Montagu, who disapproved of both Richardson's and Fielding's novels, because they encouraged marrying for love. (She had made a match for money and was beset by impoverished relatives seeking favors.) Note the similar attitude in the unmarried Mrs. Western. Sophia has her first courtship session with Blifil--a dismal, dreary, embarrassing hour. Afterward, she finds her father in a happy, affectionate mood, because of the marriage. Hoping to take advantage of his mood--and unaware of its cause--she cries out to him that she loathes Blifil. Marrying him would be torture. Western flies into a rage and swears "If you detest him ever so much, you shall have him." With many curses, he leaves her weeping on the floor. NOTE: Fielding has amply demonstrated Western's love for his daughter. Thus Sophia wonders, "Can you be unmoved while you see your Sophy in this dreadful condition? Can the best of fathers break my heart?" Evidently, the class system--and greed--are strong indeed. In the hall, Squire Western discovers Tom Jones. Unaware of Tom and Sophia's love, he sends Tom in to encourage Sophia to marry Blifil. Tom and Sophia meet and profess their love. For Tom's sake, Sophia bids him "fly from me forever." Meanwhile, Mrs. Western, considering her pact with Sophia broken, tells Western about Sophia's love for Tom. Western, discharging "a round volley of oaths," becomes enraged and finding Tom with Sophia, flies at Tom. Parson Supple restrains him and advises Tom to leave. The narrator concludes the chapter with humorous observations about swearing. Western informs Allworthy and Blifil about Tom and Sophia's love. Allworthy blames Western for inviting Tom to his house so much. Western blames Allworthy for even raising "the son of a whore." When Western leaves, Blifil tells Allworthy about the afternoon Allworthy's will was read--with a slight twist. When Allworthy was sickest, Blifil lies, Jones got drunk and set about carousing and singing. This twist makes Jones seem ungrateful and mean to Allworthy. Blifil says that when he chided Tom about his behavior, Tom attacked him. Later he and Thwackum discovered Tom with a wench--and when they went up to him, Tom attacked them again. Allworthy calls Thwackum, who affirms the story. Allworthy then summons Tom. He gives him a 500 pound bank note and banishes him forever. Most important about the banishment is the way it ties Tom's story to the story of the biblical Adam, in Genesis. Allworthy, as his name implies, is a God-like figure. The name of his home is Paradise Hall. Like Adam and Eve, Tom and Sophia must leave their rural garden paradise and go into the world. In the next book, Fielding underscores this theme by referring to John Milton's epic poem Paradise Lost: "The world, as Milton phrases it, lay all before him; and Jones, no more than Adam, had any man to whom he might resort for comfort or assistance." Tom leaves and sinks into grief and despair. NOTE: Some readers cite the depiction of Tom's agony as an example of Fielding's limited talent or interest in portraying emotions. Leaving, Tom "fell into the most violent agonies, tearing his hair from his head, and using most other actions which generally accompany fits of madness, rage and despair." Fielding describes Tom's feelings in melodramatic cliches and doesn't explore them. Does this seem a limitation to you? One critic writes that because the characters have no emotional complexity, their psychological development is extremely limited. To him, Fielding is more interested in types--the hero, the villain, the heroine--than in individuals. But another critic finds Fielding's characters (like Miss Bridget, for example) convincingly complicated and contends that Fielding simply leaves it to the reader to figure out how emotionally complex his characters are. Which do you find to be the case? When he comes to, Tom can't find the bank note that Allworthy had given him to help him on his way. He runs across Black George and they search for the note. They can't find it--because Black George discovered it earlier and pocketed it. But George does deliver Tom's farewell letter to Sophia in which he vows, because of his love for her, not to meet her again. Sophia sends him all the money she has. George grudgingly brings Tom the relatively minor sum. NOTE: When you consider all Tom has done for George, his theft seems remarkably selfish. In later works, Fielding set out to refute the views of the philosopher Thomas Hobbes that man is inherently self-centered. But in Tom Jones, many readers feel, almost everyone is selfish. Does the novel seem to you to support Hobbes' cynical view? Does the kindness shown by Allworthy, Sophia, and Tom prove the equal of the greed shown by the others? ^^^^^^^^^^ TOM JONES: BOOK VII The narrator quotes Shakespeare, among others, to introduce one of the major themes of Tom Jones--all the world's a stage, all the people merely players. This theme becomes increasingly important, especially in the third section of the novel. With Book VII you begin the novel's second section, the six books that occur on the road. They serve as a kind of bridge between Tom's adventures in the country and in London. NOTE: THE PICARESQUE Tom Jones is derived in part from earlier styles of fiction. Among them is the picaresque, a tale of travel, in which the protagonist, often with a sidekick, goes on a journey and encounters adventures along the way. Often these adventures are unrelated--the only link is that they all happen to the same hero. One of the most famous picaresque works, and a favorite book of Fielding's, is Don Quixote, by Miguel de Cervantes. Fielding himself said that he used Cervantes' work as a model. Books VII to XII represent the picaresque section of Tom Jones, and a shift in style from the sections that precede and follow it. Some readers feel this shift in style detracts from the unity of the novel. Others enjoy the way Fielding uses this section to present a panorama of England. Some note that in fact Tom's adventures are more highly structured than are the adventures in most picaresque novels. Characters tend to meet each other more than once, and their adventures tend to be balanced by the neoclassical formality seen earlier in the book. After his banishment, Tom decides to go to sea. Because England in Fielding's day was a major maritime power, going to sea was a common option for men who had no other prospects, a way for them to escape sorrows and debts as well as to seek their fortunes. Back at the Westerns', Mrs. Western rebukes Sophia for turning down Blifil, and Sophia gives her reason--"I hate him." According to Mrs. Western, Sophia has no right to any inclinations in the matter. She says she knows many couples who've married without liking each other. (The narrator humorously remarks he's met many couples like that himself.) It's clear that Fielding is opposed to Mrs. Western's cold view of marriage as an alliance between estates--like a treaty between nations--rather than the expression of love between two free hearts. Squire Western bursts in to shout at Sophia, but soon he and Mrs. Western fall to arguing instead. Mrs. Western vows to leave the house; Sophia persuades her father to ask her aunt to stay. In a typically wry Fielding irony, Western and his sister make up by raging against Sophia. Squire Western and Blifil press Allworthy, and the wedding is set for the next day. Mrs. Honour, Sophia's maid, tells Sophia and Sophia determines to run away, taking Mrs. Honour with her. NOTE: Servants and maids are secondary characters in the novel and supposedly of minor importance in society. But notice how often they play major roles in the plot. The only way for Mrs. Honour to get her dresses out of the house without being suspected of running away is by being fired, so she insults Mrs. Western and her maid, and is dismissed. Tom has set out for Bristol, a nearby seaport. He winds up at an inn where he's invited to join a troop of soldiers. NOTE: THE JACOBITE REBELLION In 1688 King James II, a Stuart, was forced to leave the throne of England and was driven into exile in part because he had become Roman Catholic. But the Stuarts had many supporters in Scotland and England. In 1745, under the Scottish "Bonnie Prince Charlie," the second of two Stuart attempts to regain the throne was made. This revolt, supported also by France, was called the Jacobite Rebellion. (Jacobite is the adjective form of the name James.) Fielding was writing just after the rebellion, and set his novel during it. Tom joins the soldiers going to the support of the seated king, George II. George was related to the German House of Hanover, which is why he's referred to disparagingly by Western and others as the "German king" and that "Hanoverian rat." Tom joins the troop, and during the drinking after dinner the next day he proposes a toast to Sophia. Northerton, an ensign, jokingly insults Sophia, claiming "Tom French of our regiment had both her and her aunt at Bath." Tom curses him, and Northerton throws a bottle, hitting Tom on the forehead and knocking him out. The lieutenant in charge of the troop locks up Northerton and has Tom carried to bed. Recuperating quickly, Tom buys a sword. Later that evening, bloody and bandaged, he goes to find Northerton to avenge the insults to Sophia. The guard, seeing this bizarre apparition, faints. When Tom enters the room he finds that Northerton, having bribed the landlady, has escaped. ^^^^^^^^^^ TOM JONES: BOOK VIII In Chapter I, the narrator theorizes about the marvellous (the supernatural) and coincidence. In writing, he claims to favor credibility and probability. Some readers point out that, in many instances, Fielding himself indulges in far-fetched coincidences (such as Tom's meeting with Partridge right here in Book VIII, for example). Why do you think Fielding employs coincidences in the novel? Book VIII deals with Tom's friendship with Partridge and includes the tale of disillusionment told by a hermit, the Old Man of the Hill. While Tom is recovering at the inn, he meets a barber, who attends to his wounds. The barber is an odd little man, comical and learned. He turns out to be Mr. Partridge, the schoolteacher who was supposedly Tom's father. Mr. Partridge assures Tom that he's not his father, and that he has no idea who Tom's father really is. Partridge takes a great liking to Tom and asks to accompany him on his travels. Friendship isn't Partridge's only motive: he hopes to reconcile Tom with Allworthy so that Allworthy, out of gratitude, will give him back his job. (Notice again how nearly everyone in Tom Jones has ulterior motives for his or her actions.) Tom and Partridge set out to catch up with the soldiers. That evening the pair come to a great hill, and at its foot they find a cabin where they meet an old man. The Man of the Hill tells them a tale of disillusionment, because he's wasted his life gambling and drinking. NOTE: DRINKING AND GIN The introduction of gin, which in Chapter II Fielding sarcastically calls "the rich distillation from the juniper-berry" had, according to some observers, turned the beer-drinking English into a nation of drunkards. In his Enquiry into the Causes of the Late Increase of Robbers (1751) Fielding lashed out against alcohol. He called gin "the principal sustenance... of more than one hundred thousand people in this metropolis" (London). His friend Hogarth's picture Gin Lane provides a similarly bleak portrayal of alcoholism. The old man's father had disowned him. The woman he'd loved left him as soon as his money was gone. Eventually his best friend betrayed him as well. After traveling the world, he'd retreated to the cabin, where he spends his days in contemplation. NOTE: INTERPOLATED NARRATIVE Here Fielding presents a story within a story. This is often called interpolated narrative, because the second narrative is interpolated or introduced into the larger story. Fielding is credited with introducing this device--found generally in epics and oral tales--into the novel. Note that Fielding neatly balances the Man of the Hill's story in the first half of the novel, by presenting a feminine tale of disillusionment (Mrs. Fitzpatrick's story) in the second half. Some readers find the Man of the Hill irrelevant to the rest of Tom Jones and therefore a structural flaw. Others ascribe great importance to his tale, both in its similarity and its contrast to Tom's own. Both Tom and the Man of the Hill were young, bright, and rash, and both were banished from their homes. But Tom eventually marries the girl he loves and finds a home, whereas the Man of the Hill ultimately retired in disillusionment. Readers who like the story point out that Tom's remarks to the old man are Fielding's way of calling attention to Tom's natural wisdom. Tom argues against the Old Man's disillusionment and as you'll see, his own experiences seems to bear his argument out. Which do you think Fielding believes in more--the Man of the Hill's disillusionment or the optimism of Tom? Do you find the old man's story irrelevant or a clever narrative technique? ^^^^^^^^^^ TOM JONES: BOOK IX Fielding praises his own genius, and has some amusing, albeit nasty things to say about his fellow novelists. Many of these attacks refer to his rival Samuel Richardson, author of Pamela. NOTE: FIELDING AND RICHARDSON Not everyone agrees with Fielding that he's superior to Richardson. Critics do agree, though, that the two authors are very different. Readers have tended to greatly prefer either one or the other. For example, Samuel Johnson, the eighteenth-century literary figure wrote: "There is more knowledge of the heart in one letter of Richardson's, than in all of Tom Jones." On the other hand, the nineteenth century poet and critic, Samuel Coleridge, praises Fielding: "To take him up after reading Richardson is like emerging from a sickroom heated by stoves to an open lawn on a breezy day." The differences between Fielding and Richardson are striking. Richardson came from the emerging lower and middle classes. He was not particularly well educated. Fielding was aristocratic and extremely well educated; he shows off this learning in his writing--sometimes, it seems, simply to best his rival. Richardson has a gift for moralism and melodrama, but can seem ponderous and humorless. Fielding sparkles and entertains, but to some lacks seriousness. The next chapters deal with Tom's rescue of Mrs. Waters from Ensign Northerton, and his and Mrs. Waters' adventures at Upton Inn. While on a walk, Tom hears a cry and runs to find Ensign Northerton attacking a half-naked woman. He rescues the woman and ties up the soldier. When Tom goes for help, Northerton escapes. Tom takes the woman, Mrs. Waters, to Upton Inn. Along the way he steals glimpses at his attractive companion. She seems to admire him as well. The landlady at the Inn, however, thinks the woman is Jones' prostitute. She and her husband attempt to throw Tom and Mrs. Waters out. They seem to be winning until Partridge comes to Tom's aid. The battle is interrupted by the arrival of a coach. A lady and her maid leave the coach and are shown to their room. Jones and Mrs. Waters retire to the kitchen to clean up, while Partridge uses the pump outside. A group of soldiers arrive. NOTE: FIELDING AND THE THEATER Fielding is showing his theatrical expertise here--he's setting up a kind of fast-paced French farce. Upton Inn resembles a stage set with many doors, where someone leaves just as someone else comes in the back way. These frantic comings and goings are vital to Fielding's plot. For example, Fielding makes sure that Partridge is too busy fighting to ever get a good look at Mrs. Waters. That should be a hint that Partridge might recognize Mrs. Waters if he saw her clearly--and eventually he will. With similar slyness, Fielding doesn't reveal the identity of the lady and her maid. You may be guessing that they're Sophia and Honour. You'll soon see if you're correct. A soldier recognizes Mrs. Waters as the wife of Captain Waters. The landlady apologizes to Mrs. Waters for her disrespect, and gives her a dress and a room. Tom retires to dine with Mrs. Waters in her room and is seduced by her in the process. Downstairs the sergeant informs the company that Mrs. Waters has had affairs with many soldiers--most recently with Ensign Northerton. Mrs. Waters was running away with Northerton, who was himself running away from the soldiers, when she told him of money and a diamond ring she'd brought with her. He tried to strangle her and escape with the money, but Tom rescued her. ^^^^^^^^^^ TOM JONES: BOOK X Fielding further praises his own genius, with more sharp comments about critics. The next chapters deal with further adventures at Upton Inn, and with Sophia and Squire Western's visit there. An Irishman, Mr. Fitzpatrick, arrives hunting for his wife. Based on the maid's description, he bursts in on Mrs. Waters and Tom. After much hullabaloo, he retires to sleep. A young woman and her maid arrive on horses: Sophia and Mrs. Honour. That, of course, means they weren't the ladies who earlier arrived in a coach. They had reached the inn while trying to elude Squire Western and find Tom. Sophia hears that Tom Jones is at the inn and that he's in bed with Mrs. Waters. Crushed, she leaves her muff on Tom's bed; she also leaves a piece of paper with her name written on it. She weeps, and resolves to stop thinking of Jones completely. Heartbroken, she sets out toward London. Jones, returning to his room, finds the muff and the paper with Sophia's name. He becomes very upset. Meanwhile, Squire Western, hunting down Sophia, arrives with servants, and finds Tom. Enraged, he sets up "the same holla as is used by sportsmen... and... laid hold of Jones, crying, 'We have got the dog fox, I warrant the bitch is not far off.'" Fitzpatrick tells Western that Jones spent the night with a woman. Thinking the woman must be Sophia, they burst in on Mrs. Waters just as Mr. Fitzpatrick did. The farce is that Mrs. Waters is found in bed by everyone but her husband. Amid a volley of curses, Western leaves, hot on Sophia's trail. Fitzpatrick hears of the other lady staying at the inn (the lady who arrived in a coach) and decides that it's his wife, who has run away from him. By the time he reaches her room, however, she's escaped on horseback. He pursues her toward Bath and is joined by Mrs. Waters, who's going the same way. They get along famously. Tom, heartbroken, sets out with Partridge to find Sophia. NOTE: METAPHOR OF HUNTING When Squire Western calls Tom the dog fox and Sophia the bitch, he's using a metaphor that compares life and love to a hunt. Fielding has used this metaphor before (Sophia and Tom's hunting experience in Book IV) but it takes on new importance in Book X and the rest of the road section of Tom Jones, which is a series of chases and flights. Squire Western chases Sophia, Sophia chases Tom, Northerton flees the soldiers, Fitzpatrick chases his wife, and later Allworthy and Blifil pursue the rest to London. Fielding uses the hunting metaphor to show people fleeing their enemies, pursuing their desires, and being carried off by their passions like fox hunters riding runaway horses. Pursuit can be as subtle as Mrs. Waters' seduction of Tom, or as blatant as Squire Western's hunt for Sophia. The prey can also be the hunter, as with Sophia, who's fleeing her father and pursuing Tom, or with Mrs. Waters, who's saved from a predator (Northerton) but pursues her rescuer (Tom). The hunt can suddenly reverse: at Upton Inn, the mid-point of the novel, Sophia's pursuit of Tom shifts to Tom's pursuit of Sophia. A hunter like Western pursues one prey (Sophia) only to be distracted by another (Tom). The hunt thus becomes a metaphor for human relationships. ^^^^^^^^^^ TOM JONES: BOOK XI Fielding continues to lash out at critics. He devotes the rest of the book to Sophia and Mrs. Fitzpatrick, and their journey to London. NOTE: THE ROADS Sophia falls on the road, because "the lane they were then passing was narrow and very much over-grown with trees." You'll notice that Tom, Sophia, and others seem to lose their way frequently, as well. English roads were terrible in Fielding's day, despite Turnpike Acts intended to improve them. In Book XVI, Mrs. Western remarks, "I think the roads, since so many turnpike acts, are grown worse than ever." Sophia and Mrs. Fitzpatrick meet on the road, going the same way on horseback. They are cousins and friends, having spent several years together with their aunt, Mrs. Western. Mrs. Fitzpatrick provides a foil for Sophia, just as Blifil does for Tom. Like Tom and Blifil, Sophia and Mrs. Fitzpatrick are related and, to some extent, have been raised together. The parallel between Sophia and Mrs. Fitzpatrick is heightened by the fact that they're both being chased by angry men--Sophia by her father and Mrs. Fitzpatrick by her husband. As with Blifil, note Mrs. Fitzpatrick's selfishness--she betrays Sophia just to gain favor with her uncle. Compare that with Sophia's kindness and warmth. After reaching an inn, they tell each other their stories. Mrs. Fitzpatrick (Harriet) had been staying with Mrs. Western at Bath, when she was courted by a handsome Irishman, Mr. Fitzpatrick. He had been paying attention to the wealthy Mrs. Western, but eventually married Harriet instead. Mrs. Western, when informed of their marriage, jealously refused to see them again. In Ireland, Fitzpatrick turned out to be a cold brute who spent most of his time hunting, and took a mistress. He ran out of money and when Harriet refused to give him her estate, he locked her up. But she escaped and has been fleeing him since, trying to reach London where relatives can protect her. Sophia archly wonders "What could you expect? Why, why would you marry an Irishman?" (It was a common pastime of the English to amuse themselves at the expense of the Irish and Scots.) Harriet generously protests that it is not all Irishmen--only the kind she married. As if to disprove Sophia's prejudice, an Irish nobleman--a friend of Mrs. Fitzpatrick--arrives at the inn and offers to take them to London. They gladly accept. Sophia suffers a setback though: she finds that she has somehow lost most of her money. They arrive in London. Anxious to preserve the Irish nobleman's reputation, Harriet doesn't stay at his home. The narrator slyly relates what Sophia figured out on the way: that Harriet is running off with the Irish nobleman. NOTE: Observe how this revelation twists everything. The Irish nobleman didn't meet them coincidentally: he had been following them, to run off with Mrs. Fitzpatrick. (No wonder she objected to Sophia's remarks about Irishmen!) What does this do to Mrs. Fitzpatrick's story? Did Mr. Fitzpatrick abuse her, or did she simply invent an excuse to leave him for the nobleman? Do you have any way of knowing for sure? Fielding's narrative technique is quite complex and sometimes confusing--as if to point out how difficult it is in real life to know all the facts behind any story. Sophia stays with Lady Bellaston, a friend of her aunt. ^^^^^^^^^^ TOM JONES: BOOK XII Book XII relates how Squire Western loses Sophia's trail, while Tom and Partridge follow her to London. Western, following Sophia on horseback, bemoans wasting an ideal day for fox-hunting. As though attentive to his desires, a pack of hunting hounds happen by in full pursuit of a fox. He happily chases after them. The next day, having lost the scent of Sophia, Western goes home. NOTE: Here Fielding keeps his plot spinning in a particularly exquisite and ludicrous way--to build suspense, he makes sure that Western doesn't catch up with his daughter just yet. Fielding also elaborates, in an ironic way, the hunting theme: Squire Western doesn't seem to care what he's hunting, as long as he's hunting something. Meanwhile, Tom and Partridge set out on foot after Sophia. Seeing he'll never catch up with her, Tom despairingly determines to rejoin the army. If he can't have love, he'll have a glorious death. He takes the road leading to the soldiers--which, ironically, is the same road Sophia took. As Tom and Partridge trudge along, a beggar offers to sell them a pocketbook that Sophia had lost. Jones recognizes the pocketbook and buys it. In it is the hundred pound bank note she lost. From the road she's taken, Jones concludes that Sophia's going to London and heads there himself to return the bank note. He and Partridge have several adventures on the way. First they run into an incompetent robber who scares the wits out of the timid Partridge, but who loses his gun to Jones. The robber moans that he's very poor, and it turns out that his gun isn't even loaded. To Partridge's amazement, Tom gives the robber money and sends him on his way. Here Fielding shows us another instance of Tom's charity, which to Fielding is perhaps the greatest Christian virtue. Tom helps the thief who tried to rob him because the man is poor. Another incident is typically picaresque: Tom and Partridge meet some gypsies celebrating in a barn. Partridge, drunk, is seduced by a gypsy woman and caught by her husband, who had been watching all the time. The seduction turns out to be the man's money making scheme, for he demands payment of Partridge. (Surprisingly the gypsy king punishes the man.) Here Fielding provides an unusual twist to his theme of money and marriage, with the husband using the wife to make money through infidelity. Some readers think that Fielding wants to portray gypsy society as superior to English society. They see in the gypsy king a paternal figure like Allworthy, but even wiser--a figure who can better serve as a metaphor for God. Others believe that Fielding is parodying the English by indicating their similarity to the gypsies--the gypsy man sells his wife for money and the king is a despot. NOTE: Another incident that has no apparent relation to the main plot involves a puppet show. Here Fielding is attacking those who banned his plays from the stage. He had been an extremely successful satirist, lampooning on stage many public figures including Prime Minister Walpole. In 1737 Walpole introduced The Licensing Act which ended Fielding's career as a playwright and theater manager. The Act had a generally dampening effect on stage satire. Here Fielding bitterly attacks this war on his livelihood. "There are several of my acquaintance in London, who are resolved to drive everything which is low from the stage." They have taken Punch and Joan (Judy) from the puppet show. Tom remarks, "I should have been glad to have seen my old acquaintance Master Punch, for all that; and so far from improving, I think... you have spoiled your puppet-show." Fielding founded his own puppet theater while he was writing Tom Jones. So here he might also be inserting an advertisement for his theater. ^^^^^^^^^^ TOM JONES: BOOK XIII Here begins the third section of Tom Jones. The setting shifts to London. Fielding invokes the Muses to aid him in his writing. The invocation of the Muses (the Greek goddesses of artistic inspiration, poetry, and so on) is the standard opening of an epic and because Fielding thought of his novel as "a comic epic poem in prose," he employs this convention. But note that because Tom Jones is a comic epic, the invocation has absurd overtones--Fielding calls one Muse "a much plumper dame" than the other. Book XIII relates Tom's search for Sophia in London and his affair with Lady Bellaston, at whose house Sophia is staying. Having learned along the way that Sophia traveled with Mrs. Fitzpatrick and an Irish nobleman, Tom tries to find the nobleman. He bribes the Irishman's porter, who takes him to the house where Mrs. Fitzpatrick is staying. Jones eventually sees Mrs. Fitzpatrick, but Mrs. Fitzpatrick thinks he's Blifil and refuses to tell him Sophia's whereabouts. But her maid, a good friend of Sophia's maid, tells Mrs. Fitzpatrick Tom's real identity and says that Sophia's in love with him. Mrs. Fitzpatrick begins to think a little differently of her simple country cousin, who hadn't even mentioned Tom Jones. Thinking she can gain her uncle Squire Western's good graces by turning Sophia back to him--and thinking that she's saving Sophia from a rake--Mrs. Fitzpatrick still won't tell Tom where Sophia is. Instead, she goes to see Lady Bellaston, and tells her about Tom and Sophia. Lady Bellaston had heard about Tom from her maid. Lady Bellaston does not want Mrs. Fitzpatrick to write to Squire Western about Sophia. But she thinks keeping Sophia from a lower-class rake like Tom Jones is a service. She's so intrigued by Mr. Jones that she desires to meet him herself. NOTE: Again, observe the ironic Fielding twist. Lady Bellaston keeps Sophia away from Tom, presumably because he's lower class. But if he's lower class, why does she want to meet him? Having heard he's handsome, does she hope to have him to herself? At his lodgings, Tom rescues a young gentleman, Mr. Nightingale, from a thrashing by his footman. The lodging house is run by Mrs. Miller, a widow with two daughters, who is also a friend of Squire Allworthy. Tom and Nightingale--who seems to be a dandy, as his name implies--become friends. The next day Tom receives a package, which contains a domino costume, a mask, a masquerade ticket, and a note inviting Tom to a masquerade. Tom, hoping that the note comes from Sophia, goes to the masquerade that evening with Nightingale. Nightingale offers to take Nancy, Mrs. Miller's older daughter. To Nancy's disappointment, Mrs. Miller declines for her, saying that she doesn't belong with high society. NOTE: Here Fielding again explores the theme of romance hindered by class distinction. It wasn't only the upper class that was aware of these distinctions, and that clung to them. The lower classes often did as well. Meanwhile, Tom has no money, so he turns to Partridge for a loan. At the masquerade, a lady in a domino costume approaches Tom and casually mentions Sophia's name. Tom, thinking the woman is Mrs. Fitzpatrick, begs her to take him to Sophia. She replies that marrying Tom would ruin her cousin Sophia; the poor girl's father would disown her. Tom protests that he will leave Sophia forever, but he must see her once more. NOTE: Masques and masquerades, a favorite form of amusement for high society at the time, fascinated Fielding. His first published works were a satirical poem called "The Masquerade" and a comedy called Love in Several Masques. They're also linked to the theatrical theme of the novel. Notice how Fielding explores the notion of people wearing masks and playing roles as this section continues. Jones and the masked woman talk of Sophia, until the woman objects, saying "Are you so little versed in the sex, to imagine that you couldn't affront a lady more, than by entertaining her with your passion for another woman?" Tom, though not in the mood for flirtation, plays along, hoping to get to Sophia. Meanwhile, "he observed his lady speak to several masks, with the same freedom of acquaintance as if they had been barefaced. He could not help expressing his surprise at this, saying, 'Sure, madam, you must have infinite discernment to know people in all disguises.'" That's an indication of the lady's cleverness and also of her romantic and sexual experience. The lady coyly entices Jones by asking him not to follow her. He follows to her apartment, and when the lady unmasks, finds not Mrs. Fitzpatrick but Lady Bellaston. He goes to bed with her and obtains "a promise that the lady would endeavour to find out Sophia, and in a few days bring him to an interview with her, on condition that he would then take his leave of her." Here many readers find Fielding at his best and his worst. The scene at the Masquerade is brilliantly written. Nothing is as it seems. Tom Jones' enticement by Lady Bellaston is depicted with an exquisite touch and she is a superbly drawn character: a vain, egotistical woman devoted only to her own pleasures, a woman who can feel great passion when it suits her and great rage when she's crossed. Just when you reach the scene of interest, when Tom and Lady Bellaston meet in her room, the author discreetly withdraws. What are Tom's motives for his obviously less than admirable affair with Lady Bellaston? Of course he's trying to find Sophia, but this seems a dubious tactic at best, because it soon becomes obvious that Lady Bellaston won't introduce him to her greatest rival. Soon, Lady Bellaston is supplying Tom with money and clothes. Does Tom simply use her for her sexual favors, or does he use her for her money? Neither motive seems commendable. Also, because the affair comes just as Tom is protesting his great love for Sophia, it makes some readers wonder about his sincerity. Tom leaves Lady Bellaston's apartment--which she keeps for these brief encounters--with a fifty pound bank note. He dines with Nightingale and the Millers. Mrs. Miller tells a sad story about relations of hers, a poor couple who married for love. The couple and their children live in misery and squalor. Fielding again explores the theme of love and money. The point this time, though, is that love alone isn't enough. He also demonstrates again the charity displayed by Tom Jones. Jones weeps at Mrs. Miller's tale and offers to give the couple his fifty pounds. Mrs. Miller accepts some of the money. Tom's generosity is astounding. Moreover, he takes Mrs. Miller into another room to offer the money, so he has no thought of reaping praise. Contrast his actions with Nightingale's easy but useless good wishes or the greed and praise-seeking of Blifil. NOTE: The aristocratic Fielding worked tirelessly to help the poor in London's slums. Except for the privileged few, the standard of living in eighteenth century England was extremely low. According to the famous eighteenth-century historian Edward Gibbon, "not one male child in ten lives to see the age of twenty-one." Tom has another rendezvous with Lady Bellaston that evening, and begins an affair with her. Lady Bellaston claims that Sophia has resolved never to meet him again. Soon Lady Bellaston refuses to even mention Sophia's name. So Tom employs Partridge to find out Sophia's address from Lady Bellaston's servants. He also feels an obligation to Lady Bellaston. With her money, he's become "one of the best dress'd men about town, and was not only relieved of the ridiculous distresses" of poverty, but enjoys greater luxury than at Allworthy's. He finds that he doesn't particularly like the lady--she cakes on make-up over her wrinkles, and she has bad breath--but he feels obliged to her. Lady Bellaston's bad reputation gets her evicted from the apartment she uses for her affairs. But she's so desperate to see Tom that she tells him to meet her at her house. (The other members of the household, including Sophia, are going to the theater that evening.) As Tom is reluctantly leaving for Lady Bellaston's, Mrs. Miller's poor relation comes to thank him for his generosity. The relation turns out to be the incompetent robber who attacked Tom on the highway. He and Mrs. Miller join in a chorus of praise of Tom, much to Tom's embarrassment. Tom arrives at Lady Bellaston's early, and as he's standing in the drawing room in walks Sophia. A riot at the theater had sent her home early. She turns, sees Tom in a mirror, and becomes pale. Tom rejoices that he's found her and gives her the pocketbook she'd lost. He falls on his knees and asks her forgiveness for his infidelity at Upton Inn. "My heart was never unfaithful to you," he implores. "I... could seriously love no other woman." Some readers find it difficult to condone--or believe--that Tom can protest his love for Sophia while standing in the house of a woman with whom he's having an affair. Perhaps Fielding intends to hint that Tom doesn't yet deserve Sophia's love. Sophia asks, "Why, Mr. Jones, do you take the trouble to make a defence, where you are not accused?" She says if she thought it worth even bothering to accuse him of something, it would be of something much worse than what occurred at Upton Inn. Tom guiltily thinks of his affair with Lady Bellaston, and asks her what she's referring to. She answers that he is guilty of bandying her name loosely about every inn on the way to London. Jones figures out that it was Partridge who had been criticizing Sophia to the inns' servants and landlords, and convinces Sophia that he's innocent (of this crime, at least). Sophia forgives him and vows that, except for her father's displeasure, she'd rather face ruin with Tom than fortune with another man. He resolves to give her up rather than ruin her. They cry and kiss, and when they have moved apart, Sophia asks how Tom happened to be in the room. In walks Lady Bellaston. Trying to understand what's going on, she says "I thought, Miss Western, you had been at the play." Sophia, who has no idea of Tom's relationship with Lady Bellaston, says she came home early because of a riot. Sophia's tone makes Lady Bellaston assume--rightly--that Tom has not betrayed their relationship. She says she hopes she didn't interrupt any business with the gentleman. Sophia tells her that Tom came to bring her the pocketbook and money she'd lost. Jones, who feels very foolish, takes Lady Bellaston's hint that they will pretend not to recognize each other. He says that ever since he'd found the pocketbook with the lady's name, "he'd used great diligence in enquiring out the lady whose name was writ in it; but never till that day could be so fortunate to discover her." NOTE: Fielding makes the double meanings fly here. Jones is explaining to Sophia how he came to the house, and also poking jabs at Lady Bellaston. He's angry because he's just realized that Sophia's been living with Lady Bellaston, and that Lady Bellaston's been hiding her from him. In saying that he'd used great diligence in trying to find Sophia, he's referring to his affair with Lady Bellaston--implying to Lady Bellaston that he tolerated their affair only in hopes of finding Sophia. Lady Bellaston, an incredibly jealous woman, doesn't believe the excuse about the pocketbook or the riot at the theater. She thinks that somehow Sophia and Jones have met behind her back. Bitterly, she congratulates the stranger (Tom) for finding out Sophia's name, and for discovering that Sophia's been staying at her house. Jones explains that the pocketbook had Sophia's name on it. He says that when he mentioned finding the pocketbook to a lady at a masquerade, she gave him the address. Jones explains to Sophia how he ended up at Lady Bellaston's. And he's indicating to Lady Bellaston that he can play this sly game of double meanings too. Tom notices that Sophia is feeling uncomfortable, so he gets up to leave. He asks, as a reward for returning her pocketbook, that he be allowed to visit again. Lady Bellaston says that people of fashion are always welcome. This gives Tom the opportunity of seeing her, but it also allows him to visit Sophia. After Tom leaves, Sophia and Lady Bellaston talk about him, alternately praising his charm and calling him crude. Lady Bellaston wryly says she first had the impression when she came into the room that the gentleman was Sophia's Tom Jones himself. But he was genteely dressed, which she gathers is not often the case with Mr. Jones. She also observes that he was much too crude to be someone Sophia could care about. Lady Bellaston upbraids Sophia for thinking too much about Tom Jones. Mr. Jones, Sophia tells her, is as entirely indifferent to me as the gentleman who just now left the room. That last remark is a fine example of Fielding's skill at dramatic irony. On the surface, it seems to mean that Sophia doesn't care about Tom Jones. But because the stranger who left the room was Tom, you know that she loves him. The irony is doubled, because Lady Bellaston is aware of the stranger's identity--and so aware of the real meaning of Sophia's remark. But Sophia doesn't know that Lady Bellaston knows. NOTE: This scene is one of the most brilliant in the novel. Fielding again shows his theatrical skill. Each character tries to uncover secrets about the others, while trying to preserve his or her own secrets. In both its setting and style, the scene is typical of a kind of play called a drawing-room comedy. This form, which reached its height in the eighteenth century, took a highly witty and ironic look at human foibles, including romance and the clash between social classes. ^^^^^^^^^^ TOM JONES: BOOK XIV The narrator explains why he writes better about high society than do some other writers. It's because he belongs to the upper class himself. Many readers feel that Fielding is showing his snobbery here. He satirizes the upper classes while reminding you that he's one of them. And he can't stand criticism of the upper classes from lower-class people. As a result of these and other passages, some readers think the novel reaffirms, rather than attacks, the English class system. Book XIV relates Tom's declining affair with Lady Bellaston, and Nightingale's parallel but quite different affair with Mrs. Miller's daughter Nancy. Just after he arrives home, Jones receives angry, desperate notes from Lady Bellaston, and then the lady herself appears. Jones says he recognizes his debts to her. She wants to know if he's betrayed her honor to Sophia. Jones protests that he's kept the affair a secret. Partridge dances into the room, joyously shouting that he's found Mrs. Honour, Sophia's maid, and that she's coming upstairs. Lady Bellaston hides, and Mrs. Honour enters, bubbling that Sophia loves Tom. She also says that everyone is talking about Lady Bellaston's affair with a strange gentleman. Mrs. Honour gives Jones a letter from Sophia. When Honour leaves, Lady Bellaston, furious, says she has lost her reputation because of Jones, and she demands to see the letter from Sophia. If he gave her Sophia's letter, Tom says, what assurances would Lady Bellaston have that he wouldn't show her letters around as well? How could she ever trust him? Tom proves ironically prophetic here. A little later, Lady Bellaston will be showing Tom's letters around--an action that will have much effect on Tom and Sophia. Lady Bellaston calms down. The narrator tells you that she knew Sophia possessed the first place in Jones' affections, but that for once she would tolerate second place. When Tom is alone, he reads Sophia's letter. It offers him some hope, but begs him not to visit her again. Tom is depressed. He can't visit Lady Bellaston at her house, because he might meet Sophia there. So he writes a note to Lady Bellaston to say that he's sick. Meanwhile, Mrs. Miller visits Tom. She tells him she loves him for his kindness, but if he has ladies visiting him late at night, he'll have to leave. He promises to look for other lodgings. Nightingale announces he will leave as well, for private reasons. Jones says he understands the private reasons: Nightingale's flirting with Nancy has made her fall in love with him. Over a farewell tea, Mrs. Miller tells Tom of Mr. Allworthy's generosity toward her all these years. He's given her an annual stipend to help support her, using his occasional lodging there as a pretext for his kindness. When Tom protests he's no relation to Allworthy, she tells him that she's figured out he's the same Tom Jones that Allworthy adopted and loved as a son. That evening a distraught Mrs. Miller bursts in on Tom. Nightingale has left, and Nancy is pregnant by him. Tom goes to Nightingale, who tells him that he loves Nancy, but that he can't marry her because she's from a lower class. Not only would his father never bless the marriage, he would disown Nightingale. His father has already chosen a wealthy heiress for Nightingale to marry. Besides, Nightingale says, he would feel dishonored in the opinion of the world. Tom says Nightingale would achieve honor by marrying Nancy, and, when Nightingale expresses his love for the girl, offers to visit his father for him. When Tom does visit, old Nightingale expresses his rage at the marriage. Once again Fielding presents the choice: should you marry for love, or marry for money and the good opinion of your parents? ^^^^^^^^^^ TOM JONES: BOOK XV In the opening chapter of Book XV, Fielding espouses wisdom as the route to happiness. For the rest of the book, the plot continues to accelerate, as Lady Bellaston schemes against Sophia, as Sophia is rescued and then imprisoned by Western, and as Tom breaks off his affair with Lady Bellaston. Lady Bellaston resolves to remove Sophia as a rival. A friend of hers, a foppish young nobleman named Lord Fellamar, falls in love with Sophia. Lady Bellaston encourages him, but mentions that Sophia loves another man. She describes Tom as "a bastard, a foundling, a man in meaner circumstances than your lordship's footmen." Lady Bellaston is afraid Sophia will run off with him any day. To prove Sophia's devotion to Tom, she hires a friend to announce, while Sophia and Lord Fellamar are playing bridge, that Tom has died. Sophia misdeals and faints. Lady Bellaston later manages to persuade Sophia it was just a joke. Lord Fellamar and Lady Bellaston plan for him to rape and abduct Sophia, then marry her. The next evening Lord Fellamar goes to Sophia's room and proposes marriage to her. She respectfully but sternly rejects him. Convinced she won't have him otherwise, Fellamar seizes her. Suddenly, in bursts a drunk Squire Western. Western is too drunk to notice that Sophia's clothes are torn. But when Fellamar proposes marrying his daughter, Western insults him. Western takes Sophia away and fires Sophia's maid, Mrs. Honour, for helping her escape. Lady Bellaston, however, is very "pleased with the confinement into which Sophia was going." She reasons that one man is as good as another for carrying off her rival. You'll notice the hunting theme again: just as one hunter, Lord Fellamar, has trapped Sophia and is carrying her off, she's rescued by another hunter, Western, who springs the trap and carries her off himself. NOTE: FIELDING'S DRAMATIC CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE NOVEL Two of Fielding's contributions to the novel, which he borrowed from his dramatic writing, are the interrelation of multiple plots, and a dramatic structure that accelerates as the novel concludes. You can see both of these contributions here and throughout the following books. Two plots collide--Squire Western's pursuit of Sophia (and her marriage to Blifil) and Lord Fellamar's rape of Sophia--just as Fitzpatrick's pursuit of his wife and Fellamar's abduction of Tom will collide later. And Fielding continually accelerates the many plots as the novel progresses. Compare these books to Books XI and XII; you can feel the pace quicken. How did Squire Western find Sophia? Mrs. Fitzpatrick wrote to Mrs. Western, hoping to gain her favor. Squire Western "had no sooner read the letter than he leaped from his chair, threw his pipe into the fire, and gave a loud huzza for joy." He set off to hunt Sophia down, with Mrs. Western following him the next day. Meanwhile, Nightingale and Nancy marry, despite old Nightingale's displeasure. Mrs. Miller expresses her eternal gratitude to Tom. Mrs. Honour visits Tom and hides when Lady Bellaston drops by. (You'll notice Fielding's fondness for symmetry. In Book XIV it was Lady Bellaston who hid when Mrs. Honour entered the room.) Lady Bellaston discovers her, and, to control her gossiping, hires her as a maid. Later, as Tom gets an angry note from Lady Bellaston, Nightingale asks how the affair is going. Apparently, he's been aware all along of the identity of Tom's lover, for he recognized her in her domino costume at the Masquerade. Tom wonders how he can find a way to leave Lady Bellaston, to whom he still feels indebted. Nightingale tells him that Lady Bellaston has "bought" many other young lovers. Tom "began to look on all the favours he had received rather as wages than benefits, which not only depreciated her, but himself too.... and put him quite out of humour with both. His mind.... turned towards Sophia: her virtue, her purity, her love to him, her sufferings on his account, filled all his thoughts...." Through his love for Sophia, Tom is gaining wisdom--and so is preparing to gain Sophia herself. He resolves to end his affair with Lady Bellaston. Nightingale offers an intriguing suggestion. "Propose marriage, and she will declare off in a moment." This is a brilliant variation on one of Fielding's favorite themes, that of the difficulties of marriage between persons of different social classes. Tom's poverty has been a handicap to him because it prevented him from marrying Sophia. Now it becomes an asset that helps rid him of Lady Bellaston. Nightingale assures him that if he proposes, Lady Bellaston will think he wants to marry her only for her money, and that she'll end the affair. In the unlikely event that she accepts, Nightingale says he possesses her letters to an earlier lover, which Tom can use to end the affair himself. Nightingale dictates a letter for Tom, proposing marriage "for fear your reputation should be exposed." Tom then gets angry notes from Lady Bellaston. Does he think she's a fool? He is a villain. If he comes to visit she won't be at home. Note Lady Bellaston's utter cynicism toward marriage: she writes of "that monstrous animal, husband and wife." Nightingale's brilliant tactic has worked. But Tom's letter will play yet another role in the novel. Marriage seems to be in the air. Jones receives a note from a wealthy widow, Mrs. Hunt, who's fallen in love with him. She proposes marriage, but Tom refuses her out of devotion to Sophia. Meanwhile, Mrs. Miller receives a note from Allworthy saying that he and Blifil are coming to town and that they desire their usual accommodations. So Jones and Mr. and Mrs. Nightingale move to other lodgings. Partridge has run into Black George, who's working for Squire Western. Partridge gives him a note from Tom for Sophia. ^^^^^^^^^^ TOM JONES: BOOK XVI The narrator discusses the advantages of his introductory chapters. The plot continues to accelerate, and Tom's fortunes sink. Book XVI relates Squire Western's confinement of Sophia and her release by Mrs. Western; the arrival of Allworthy, Blifil, and Fitzpatrick in London; and the imprisonment of Tom Jones. Squire Western, still eager for Sophia to marry Blifil, locks her up at his quarters. He is visited by a friend of Lord Fellamar, who says Fellamar will overlook the insults of the other night, if Western gives him Sophia's hand. Otherwise, Fellamar challenges Western to a duel. Western's enraged reaction convinces Fellamar's friend that he's dealing with a madman, and he leaves. NOTE: This may be the most hilarious example of Fielding's "double irony." Western and Fellamar's friend, both pursuing different but equally distasteful marriages for Sophia, are so different they have difficulty even understanding each other. Fielding makes ironic fun of each with the other, and the narrator makes fun of both. Hearing the commotion from her room, Sophia screams with concern for her father. They profess their mutual love. Western tells her: "Sophy, you do not know how I love you, indeed you don't, or you never could have run away and left your poor father, who hath no other joy, no other comfort upon earth, but his little Sophy." The narrator wryly tells you "...except in that single instance in which the whole future happiness of her life was concerned, she was sovereign mistress of his inclinations." They break up again over Blifil, with Western shouting his litany of curses. The landlady begins to entertain a strange opinion of her guests. Black George sneaks Sophia a note from Tom, which professes Tom's love for her. Mrs. Western arrives that evening and berates her brother for his handling of Sophia. "Women in a free country are not to be treated with such arbitrary power." (The irony is that Mrs. Western won't let Sophia have her freedom any more than Western will.) Seeing he's getting nowhere with Sophia, Western entrusts her to his sister's care. Sophia's now set free, but on the condition that she not see anyone (which means Jones) without her aunt's permission. Sophia writes Jones a note declaring her devotion, but asking him not to try to see her or write to her. Jones takes a mixed comfort in the note. He goes to the theater with friends. NOTE: This chapter pays homage to a friend of Fielding, the actor David Garrick. Garrick (1717-79) was the leading actor of his day and a figure of great importance to the English theater. He pioneered a less melodramatic style of acting. Amusingly, Partridge considers Garrick a poor actor--because you can't tell he's acting. Meanwhile, Western writes Blifil that he's found Sophia. Blifil, driven by love (of the Western estate) and hatred (of her rejection of him) comes to London with Allworthy. Allworthy declares that he won't consent to the marriage without Sophia's free desire. Blifil and Western surprise Sophia and Mrs. Western at Mrs. Western's apartment. Sophia goes pale and withdraws. Mrs. Western tells them to try again, more politely, another time. Western vents his frustration, telling Blifil "I can no more turn her, than a beagle can turn an old hare." Blifil thanks him, privately fuming, and they leave. Meanwhile, Lord Fellamar--who seems to thrive on rejection--goes to Lady Bellaston with his ever-mounting passion for Sophia. Lady Bellaston now seethes with hatred for Jones. She tells Fellamar that if he removes Jones, Sophia would be free to fall in love with him. She offers a plan to have Jones pressed into naval service and taken on board ship, so that he can "make his fortune in an honest way." NOTE: Pressing men into naval service was a way of maintaining the manpower needed for England's large navy. The impressment of Americans by the British was a contributing factor in the worsening relations between Britain and the Thirteen Colonies, which led to the American Revolution some thirty years later. Lady Bellaston has another visitor, her old friend Mrs. Western, who finds Lord Fellamar's marriage proposal to Sophia even more attractive than Blifil's. The two women agree that Sophia's love for Jones is the difficulty. Lady Bellaston, laughing, says "Will you believe that the fellow (Jones) hath even had the presumption to try to make love to me?" As proof she gives Mrs. Western Tom's letter proposing marriage to her. She tells Mrs. Western to use it any way she'd like. Lady Bellaston's spite is even greater than her pride. Mrs. Fitzpatrick visits the Westerns, hoping to have ingratiated herself with the note about Sophia. She is insulted by both, however. She becomes determined to get revenge and sends for Tom, hoping they can work together. Her thoughts turn to romance, though, when she meets Tom, and she tries to flirt with him. Tom politely leaves. The narrator tells you: "his whole thoughts were now confined to his Sophia, that I believe no woman upon earth could have drawn him into an act of inconstancy." Jones' rejection of Mrs. Fitzpatrick (who is still young and pretty, much more so than Lady Bellaston) shows that he has finally achieved some wisdom. He's showing his devotion to Sophia in more than words. He's beginning to deserve Sophia--but she seems farther away from him than ever. Meanwhile, Mrs. Western--still annoyed at Mrs. Fitzpatrick for having stolen Mr. Fitzpatrick from her--writes to him about his wife. NOTE: Fielding has created another neat plot balance here. Mrs. Fitzpatrick, to gain favor with Mrs. Western, sent her Sophia's London address--and Mrs. Western went to London. Mrs. Western, to avenge herself on Mrs. Fitzpatrick, sends Mr. Fitzpatrick his wife's London address--and he goes to London. Fitzpatrick races to London. As he reaches his wife's door, he finds Tom leaving. He remembers Tom from Upton Inn and figures Tom had slept with his wife there. In a jealous rage, he knocks Tom down and challenges him to a duel. When Fitzpatrick draws his sword, Tom draws his and stabs Fitzpatrick in self-defense. Jones is seized by the gang employed by Fellamar to press Tom into the Navy. (They had followed him to Lady Fitzpatrick's.) The officer in charge figures that putting Jones in jail will be even better than pressing him into military service, so he takes him to the magistrate. Jones, overwhelmed with grief about wounding Fitzpatrick, is taken to prison. There Partridge visits him and gives him a letter from Sophia. She writes that her aunt has shown her Tom's proposal of marriage to Lady Bellaston, and she says that all she wants is to never hear his name again. Jones grows so tormented with misery that Fielding says, "even Thwackum would almost have pitied him." ^^^^^^^^^^ TOM JONES: BOOK XVII In the opening chapter of Book XVII, the narrator discusses how he might help his poor hero. Unlike ancient authors, he can't bring some deity to his hero's aid. He promises to try his best, though. Here Fielding elaborates the complex joke of the narrator--if he's only telling a story that he has no control over--if he's only a narrator of the "History of Tom Jones," how can he possibly help Tom? But of course Fielding wrote the novel, so he does control what happens. Further, Fielding here presents the narrator as a character, a player in the history, distinct from the author. One of the dramas of the novel becomes how well the narrator can handle his story, which threatens to get out of hand. NOTE: Some readers have objected to this chapter and other passages where the narrator comments on the story because they say it breaks the illusion of the story and destroys the reader's "willing suspension of disbelief." Do these passages obscure the story for you? Or do they contribute to the humor? In Book XVII, the plot accelerates at a dizzy rate, as it treats various marriage proposals to Sophia, Tom's imprisonment, Mrs. Miller's and Partridge's attempts to help him, and Blifil's attempts to ruin him. At Mrs. Miller's, Blifil gleefully tells Allworthy that the villain Jones has been thrown into prison. He's explaining Tom's crimes when Mrs. Miller angrily exclaims that Tom Jones is one of the most generous men she's ever met. Allworthy expresses amazement that she knows Jones. Before she can explain, Squire Western bursts in, cursing. Mrs. Western, Lady Bellaston, and friends had spent the evening urging him to let Sophia marry Lord Fellamar. "I'd rather be run in by my own dogs," Squire Western howls now, and he proposes marrying Sophia by force to Blifil. Allworthy says that the point of marriage is the happiness of the married couple. He loves and admires Sophia, and would love to have her in his family, but only if the marriage makes her happy. Parents, he says, have a duty to promote their children's happiness. Western exclaims, "'Did I not beget her?'... I have the best title to her, for I bred her up... I thought you had more sense.'" Blifil says that he too seeks only Sophia's happiness, and that the only reason she won't marry him is that she still loves Tom Jones. But Jones is in prison and may hang. Jones' predicament is news to Western. On hearing it, he dances with delight, and agrees to Blifil's continued pursuit of Sophia. When Western leaves, however, Allworthy advises Blifil to give up trying to marry Sophia. "I cannot flatter you with any hopes of succeeding." Ironically, he expresses the fear that Blifil is not concerned enough for Sophia's happiness, but is too driven by passionate desire for her. Meanwhile Partridge tells Jones that Mr. Fitzpatrick may recover. Jones laments that Sophia won't ever see him again. Forlornly he allows Mrs. Miller to carry a letter from him to Sophia. Sophia, recognizing Jones' handwriting, won't accept the letter. Mrs. Miller again proclaims Tom the most wonderful man in the world, and describes his generosity toward her cousin and daughter. NOTE: Observe in the novel's final books how Jones is estranged from the people he loves most, Allworthy and Sophia, and how the movement of the novel moves toward his reconciliation with them. This reconciliation is accomplished by others whom he has helped, notably Mrs. Miller. His generosity is slowly finding its reward. Sophia blushes and says that if Mrs. Miller wants to leave the letter, she can. Mrs. Miller does, and as soon as she goes, Sophia reads it. Jones writes that he hadn't the slightest desire to marry Lady Bellaston, and that he can explain the marriage proposal if he ever meets Sophia again. Sophia wonders if he's telling the truth, but directs most of her rage at Lady Bellaston. Mrs. Miller again tells Allworthy of Tom's kindness. Allworthy says he can appreciate her gratitude to Jones, but never to mention his name again. For it was "upon the fullest and plainest evidence" that he banished him. Mrs. Miller reminds Allworthy of the affection he once had for Tom and hopes they'll be reconciled. Various strands of the plot move along quickly. Blifil and Allworthy's attorney, Mr. Dowling, return to Mrs. Miller's to discuss a mortgage and various other business. Mrs. Western presses Sophia to marry Lord Fellamar. When Sophia refuses his offer, Mrs. Western takes her back to her father. Meanwhile, Nightingale visits Tom in prison and says he found the gang that put him there. They claim Tom attacked Fitzpatrick first. Partridge leaves to find out what reason they have to want Tom in prison. Tom has another visitor, Mrs. Waters, who came to London with Mr. Fitzpatrick. (She'd become involved with him when they left Upton Inn together, and hoped to be his wife.) While nursing Fitzpatrick, she heard that the man who stabbed him was Tom Jones--the charming young man who'd saved her from Northerton, and whom she'd seduced at Upton Inn. Still annoyed at Tom for leaving her but still infatuated with him, she's come to visit. She tells Tom that Fitzpatrick is recovering. Cheered, Tom tells her he left her at Upton Inn because he'd found Sophia's muff on his bed, and praises Sophia highly. Disappointed, Mrs. Waters hopes he'll get over this romantic obsession and tries to flirt with him. But Tom doesn't seem interested. Evidently he's grown more mature. ^^^^^^^^^^ TOM JONES: BOOK XVIII This is the final book of Tom Jones. Here you will bid farewell to the character many readers find the most interesting and entertaining in the novel, the narrator himself. In Book XVIII, Fielding resolves his complex plot. The mystery of the novel's opening is unravelled, and Tom's true parentage is revealed. The parallel discovery of Blifil's villainy and his banishment is presented. The novel concludes with Tom's reconciliation with Allworthy and Sophia, his marriage to Sophia, and their return home. Just after Mrs. Waters leaves, Partridge--who'd been waiting in a room outside Tom's cell--comes in shaking. He tells Tom he has slept with his own mother. Mrs. Waters, he says, is Jenny Jones, Tom's supposed mother. Jones falls into a fit of despair. He sends Partridge to find Mrs. Waters. While Partridge is gone, Jones gets a note from her that seemingly confirms Partridge's assertion. He goes "almost raving mad." Black George comes by and offers assistance and money. Allworthy does Mrs. Miller a favor. He visits old Nightingale and reconciles him to young Nightingale's marriage to Nancy. He also recognizes Black George leaving as he's coming in, and asks old Nightingale what George has been doing there. NOTE: This type of coincidence--especially frequent toward the novel's end--annoys some readers. They feel that Fielding delights in playing with plot patterns to amuse himself. Do you find these patterns too contrived? Or do you think Fielding's point is that the universe is arbitrary? Old Nightingale is Black George's purchasing agent, and Black George has given him the bank notes he stole from Jones. Allworthy recognizes the notes and puts a hold on them. He confers with Dowling about the bank notes and Black George. Mrs. Miller interrupts with the news that Fitzpatrick has recovered, and that he declares that he drew his sword on Tom. Dowling suddenly leaves. By now you can guess that he has some ulterior motive. Mrs. Miller brings in Nightingale to praise Tom's generosity. Allworthy rejoices and expresses his affection for Tom. He had just received a letter from the dying Mr. Square, who wrote that he had wronged Jones and that Jones had been the only person who really cared for Allworthy. Allworthy also received a letter from Mr. Thwackum, who rejoiced to find Jones in prison and begged for another position from Allworthy. Nightingale relates that he found the captain of the gang who testified against Tom. The captain told Nightingale he'd been hired by a nobleman to press Tom into the Navy. Nightingale also saw Dowling consorting with the gang, so he assumed Allworthy had hired them. Allworthy, recalling that he'd seen Dowling and Blifil together recently, asks to see Blifil. Blifil, blushing and stuttering, claims he sent Dowling to the gang to soften their evidence against Tom. Allworthy, charmed by Blifil's affection for Tom, and feeling his own affection as well, proposes that they all visit Tom in prison. But Partridge arrives. Knowing Tom's distress over his affair with Mrs. Waters, who's visiting him in prison, he says Tom is sick and to visit him another time. Allworthy recognizes Partridge as Tom's supposed father. He wonders why Partridge pretends to be Tom's servant. Partridge assures him that he's not Tom's father. Partridge tells Allworthy about Tom's affair with Mrs. Waters. As Allworthy exclaims his dismay, in walks Mrs. Waters--Jenny Jones herself. Once she's alone with Allworthy, Mrs. Waters tells an amazing tale. Partridge was not Tom's father, and she was not his mother. His father, she says, was the son of a close friend of Mr. Allworthy, a Mr. Summer, who had lived at the Allworthy estate for a year before he died of smallpox. That year he'd become very friendly with Mrs. Bridget, Mr. Allworthy's sister. She was Tom Jones' mother, and so Tom is Allworthy's nephew and Blifil's half-brother. NOTE: FIELDING AND THE CLASS SYSTEM After spending most of the novel suffering from poverty and a lower-class lineage, Tom turns out to belong to an aristocratic family of great wealth. Does this mean that Fielding, though he satirizes the barriers between social classes, actually supports them? That's what some readers believe, noting that Fielding himself was an aristocrat. Others disagree, citing remarks like this from Book XIV: "The only epithet which the upper class deserves is that of frivolous." Which position do you think Fielding favors? Mrs. Waters/Jenny further explains: Allworthy had been away during his sister's pregnancy, and had paid Jenny handsomely to help deliver the child and claim motherhood. Jenny had brought the child to Allworthy's bed, and, just as Mrs. Bridget had hoped, Allworthy had adopted the boy as his own. NOTE: Fielding hinted at this outcome along the way. Take another look at the opening book, for example. Mrs. Bridget praises Allworthy's generosity toward the foundling and develops a curious fondness for Tom, which the townspeople ironically mistake for romantic attraction. Allworthy, amazed, wonders why his sister never told him. Mrs. Waters believes Mrs. Bridget intended to. Mrs. Waters also tells him that she was visited by Dowling at Mr. Fitzpatrick's bedside. Dowling offered her money to help prosecute Jones for his attack on Mr. Fitzpatrick. When summoned, Dowling says Blifil hired him to prosecute Jones. And Blifil told Dowling to have the gang of thugs give evidence against Jones. Allworthy angrily says that Dowling was trying to prosecute Allworthy's own nephew. Dowling replies that he knew all along that Tom was Allworthy's nephew. But, he says, Allworthy should have known that too. For on her deathbed, Mrs. Bridget had written a letter explaining everything. She'd given the letter to Dowling, and he'd given it to Blifil to give to Allworthy. But Blifil had kept the letter. NOTE: You will now gain new insights by rereading Book V, Chapter 9, in which Tom apologizes to Blifil for carousing when Blifil's mother has just died. Fielding continues, Blifil scornfully rejected his hand; and, with much indignation, answered, "It was little to be wondered at, if tragical spectacles made no impression on the blind; but, for his part, he had the misfortune to know who his parents were, and consequently must be affected by their loss." On your first reading, you probably thought Blifil was merely insulting Tom for being a foundling. On a second reading you will see that Blifil is taunting Tom with the fact that although Tom doesn't know it, he's just suffered a loss, too--for Mrs. Bridget is Tom's mother as well as Blifil's. Blifil has just learned this fact from a letter, but he's keeping the information from Tom. It's only by rereading the passage now that you see the full extent of Blifil's nastiness. Allworthy, convinced of Blifil's villainy, banishes him forever. Allworthy visits Sophia and pleads Tom's case, but she doesn't want to see Mr. Jones again. Allworthy informs Western that Tom is his nephew and the heir to the Allworthy estate, Western becomes as enthusiastic about Sophia's marriage to Jones as he was about a marriage to Blifil. But, as if only to spite him, Sophia refuses to marry her father's new favorite, either. Back at his lodgings, Allworthy and Tom Jones have a tender reunion. Allworthy explains that he's Tom's uncle, and each asks the other's forgiveness. Allworthy tells Jones that he must learn wisdom, the duty that we owe ourselves. Here Fielding reiterates his theme of achieving wisdom. Jones says that he has achieved it at last, but that, ironically, he's lost the human emblem of wisdom in the novel, Sophia. In bursts Western to shake Tom's hand and ask his forgiveness. NOTE: The master plotter Fielding slips up in the seventh paragraph of Chapter 11: "When Allworthy returned to his lodgings..." In fact, Allworthy has not left his lodgings. Mrs. Miller, who supposedly enters the room at this point, has been there for four pages. Because of these and other anomalies, scholars believe Fielding wrote these last books in haste. Blifil asks to meet with Allworthy, but Allworthy coldly refuses. Tom intercedes for Blifil, and Allworthy expresses astonishment at Tom's generosity. Tom visits Blifil and gives him money, for Blifil has been banished from the house. Allworthy also tells Tom that Black George had stolen his bank notes. Tom forgives Black George, too, saying that he probably had to steal to help his family. Again, Allworthy is amazed by Tom's generosity. NOTE: Unlike so many of the characters in Tom Jones (Lady Bellaston, Blifil, Mr. Fitzpatrick, among them), Tom has no desire for revenge. Despite the numbers of greedy, vengeful characters, the novel affirms a belief in human goodness. You might also consider the fact that Fielding was a believer in determinism, a popular theory of his time, which held that occurrences in nature are determined by preceding events. Although his characters Tom and Blifil had the same mother, they were, according to Fielding's way of thinking, predestined to virtue and villainy, respectively. Tom meets with Sophia and begs her forgiveness. She says she forgives him but wants proof of his devotion. He shows Sophia her face in a mirror and asks how he could be unfaithful to such loveliness. In turn she asks what he will say when she has left the room. NOTE: This scene has philosophical and symbolic importance. As you've seen, the name Sophia comes from the Greek word meaning wisdom. To some Greek philosophers, and to Fielding, wisdom is the highest virtue a person can achieve. In Plato's Phaedo, the philosopher Socrates says that man's eyes can never really see wisdom; instead they can only see the shadow of it, reflected as in a glass (mirror) darkly. Here, Fielding expands Socrates' metaphor. In the mirror, Tom sees not the reflection of Sophia's physical beauty, but rather a reflection of an infinitely more important quality, her wisdom. Sophia wants proof of Tom's fidelity, the kind of proof that time alone can provide. Tom wonders when they can marry. A year seems appropriate to Sophia. But Tom impetuously takes her in his arms and kisses her. In bursts Squire Western. He demands the wedding take place the very next day, and Sophia says she will obey her father. Ironically she now uses obedience to her father to get what she wants but what her pride won't let her have: marriage to Tom Jones. They celebrate that evening with Mrs. Miller, Nightingale, Nancy, Western, and Allworthy. Sophia shines. Tom marries Sophia and they settle on the Western estate. Blifil is banished, but Tom gives him an annuity. Mrs. Fitzpatrick remains separated from her husband and carries on with the Irish nobleman. Mrs. Western is reconciled to Sophia and visits occasionally. The Nightingales have purchased an estate near Tom and Sophia. Mrs. Waters also comes home and marries Western's parson. Black George, hearing his theft had been discovered, flees. Partridge takes up his old position as schoolteacher, and is engaged to Molly Seagrim. Western gives Sophia and Tom his estate and moves to a smaller house where the hunting is better. Western visits Tom and Sophia frequently, doting on their children, a daughter and a son. He declares he was never happier in his life. Allworthy visits often, too, and Tom and Sophia love him as a father. Fielding has brought Tom and Sophia together at the end of their long romance, and returned them to their home. Tom has achieved the wisdom he needed in order to gain Sophia and happiness. Fielding's emphasis on wisdom as a path to happiness reflects the eighteenth-century belief in reason as a central quality of man. The other virtue Fielding highlights, generosity, is shown once more in Tom's generosity toward Blifil, as the novel concludes. The mystery at the opening of the novel has also been resolved. Tom has discovered his true parentage, and thus his identity. Perhaps more importantly, he has reconciled with his "father," Allworthy, as has Sophia with hers. Tom's banishment, journey, and return home has been seen by some readers to reflect the process of achieving adulthood. The young person leaves home to establish an independent identity, then is gradually reintegrated into family and society as an adult. Paradise has been regained in other ways as well. The primary villains--Blifil, Square, Thwackum, and Black George--are gone, while Lady Bellaston, Mrs. Fitzpatrick, and Mrs. Western remain elsewhere. Fielding heightens the feeling of fulfillment and resolution through various plot strategies. For example, up until now there have been almost no complete families in the novel. Allworthy, Western, Mrs. Miller, and others are all without spouses, just as Tom, Sophia, and Blifil are without a parent. Tom and Sophia's marriage presents a complete family for the first time in the novel. Also note that the marriage achieves the main goal of many of the major characters--Western, Mrs. Western, Blifil, and Allworthy--the uniting of the Western and Allworthy estates. At the end of Tom Jones, Fielding has resolved the two basic stories which give the novel its structure--the journey and the romance. Tom's banishment has been resolved with his reconciliation to Allworthy; his journey has been completed with his return to the country. Similarly, Tom's romance with Sophia has been resolved with their marriage. Tom and Sophia are home at last. ^^^^^^^^^^ TOM JONES: FIELDING AND THE THEATER The stage taught Fielding how to break the monotony of flat, continuous narrative.... Scenes do not ramble on and melt into each other. They snap past, sharply divided, wittily contrasted, cunningly balanced... only a theatre man's expertness in the dramatic... could cover the packed intrigue of the narrative. The theatre taught Fielding economy. -V. S. Pritchett, The Living Novel, 1946 ^^^^^^^^^^ TOM JONES: FIELDING'S LIMITS The talk about the "perfect construction" of Tom Jones... is absurd. There can't be subtlety of organization without richer matter to organize, and subtler interests, than Fielding has to offer. He is credited with range and variety and it is true that some episodes take place in the country and some in town... and so on. But we haven't to read a very large proportion of Tom Jones in order to discover the limits of the essential interests it has to offer us. -F. R. Leavis, The Great Tradition, 1948 Fielding... is regarded with a mixture of acceptance and contempt, as a worthy old boy who did the basic engineering for the novel because he invented the clockwork plot, but tiresomely boisterous, "broad" to the point of being insensitive to fine shades, lacking in any of the higher aspirations, and hampered by a style which keeps his prosy commonsense temperament always to the fore. ...I think the chief reason why recent critics have belittled Fielding is that they find him intimidating. -William Empson, Tom Jones, 1958 ^^^^^^^^^^ TOM JONES: TOM JONES AS FOLK HERO Fielding carefully subordinates all other characters to Tom and Sophia in a graded series of realizations. The nearer and more important they are to the principals, the more complex they are, but they are never very complex.... Tom Jones is that universal hero of folk tale and myth--the foundling prince, the king's son raised by wolves, Moses in the bullrushes... -Kenneth Rexroth, Tom Jones, 1967 ^^^^^^^^^^ TOM JONES: TOM JONES AND ALLEGORY There is what may be called an iconomatic impulse behind much of Fielding's art: many of his most memorable episodes and characters, and the general design and movement of such books as Joseph Andrews and Tom Jones, may be seen to function figuratively as emblem or allegory.... Sophy Western's image in the glass is the literalizing of the Platonic metaphor [of wisdom], the dramatization of Fielding's meaning in the broadly allegorical scheme of the novel. -Martin Battestin, Fielding's Definition of Wisdom, 1968 ^^^^^^^^^^ TOM JONES: THE SYMMETRY OF TOM JONES So symmetrical an arrangement calls attention to itself. Life is just not like this. Such neatness does in truth suggest the manipulated sequences of literature; the plot is indeed carefully contrived. As used by modern critics words like manipulate and contrive are pejoratives. They... would not, I think, have been used in that way by Fielding. -Frederick W. Hilles, Art and Artifice in Tom Jones, 1968 ^^^^^^^^^^ TOM JONES: FIELDING'S "PROFOUND PLAY OF HUMOR" The modern reader... may conclude that Fielding, so far away, is not for him... may have been repelled by a certain formality, a feeling that his author is addressing him from under a periwig. Let him try again, reading... for the irony, the profound play of humor beneath the surface play of fun, and he will soon discover that he has made friends with a great man. -J. B. Priestley, The English Novel, 1927 THE END