Compiled by Michael J. Cummings.©
History of Tom Jones, a Foundling is a novel that centers on a likable
hero who romps through a series of adventures while growing up and pursuing
the girl he idolizes. The novel falls into the general category of comedy
because of its humor and its happy ending. It contains elements of the
Novel about the coming of age, or maturation, of the main character. In
Jones, the title character undergoes character development while growing
up in the country, experiencing adventures while traveling, and searching
in London for the young lady he loves.
Epic Journey: Long
narrative about the main character's struggles and adventures while traveling
from one place to another. Tom Jones is a long narrative about the
struggles and adventures of a traveling protagonist.
Mock Epic: Literary
work that uses the elevated style of a classical epic (such as Homer's
or Virgil's Aeneid) to describe
a trivial or insignificant event. The result is a comic or satirical passage.
For more information, see Tom Jones as a mock epic.
Romance: (1) Narrative
about the adventures of a chivalric hero who often is in love with a noble
lady; (2) narrative that emphasizes love. Tom Jones battles villains, rescues
a damsel in distress, and is in love with a noble lady.
Novel about the episodic adventures of a vagabond hero. Tom Jones experiences
many episodic adventures while traveling from one place to another.
first edition of The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling was published
in London on February 28, 1749, by Andrew Millar. A second edition, containing
numerous revisions, appeared later that year. A third edition was published
Fielding presented the novel in three main sections with action taking
place in the first half of the eighteenth century. The first section centers
on life in the country at the estates of Squire Allworthy and Squire Western
in Somersetshire (Somerset County) in southwestern England. In this section,
the protagonist, Tom Jones, grows from infant foundling into a teenager
who falls in love with the beautiful daughter of Squire Western.
second part of the novel takes place along roads, at inns, and in other
locales between Somersetshire and London in the middle and late 1740s,
when the Jacobite rebellion was under way and English soldiers were bracing
for battles with their enemies (Jacobites), who were seeking to restore
the House of Stuart to the English throne. In this section, the protagonist
experiences many episodic adventures involving a diverse cast of characters
that include a woman in distress, soldiers on the march, gypsies, untrustworthy
lawyers, puppeteers, women admirers of the title character, and an impoverished
action in the third part takes place mainly in London, where the title
character searches for his beloved, fights a duel, has encounters with
a possessive seductress, goes to jail, gains his freedom, and reunites
with his beloved. This section ends when the principal characters return
tone is playful and light-hearted.
telling the story, the narrator generally uses third-person omniscient
point of view, enabling him to reveal the thoughts of the characters. When
commenting on the story, the narrator uses first-person point of view,
sometimes in the singular and sometimes in the plural, as in the following
It hath been observed,
by wise men or women, I
forget which, that all persons are doomed to be in love once in their lives.
No particular season is, as I
remember, assigned for this; but the age at which Miss Bridget was arrived,
seems to me as proper a period as any
to be fixed on for this purpose: it often, indeed, happens much earlier;
but when it doth not, I
have observed it seldom or never fails about this time. Moreover, we
may remark that at this season love is of a more serious and steady nature
than what sometimes shows itself in the younger parts of life. The love
of girls is uncertain, capricious, and so foolish that we
cannot always discover what the young lady would be at; nay, it may almost
be doubted whether she always knows this herself.
occasion, the narrator uses first-person point of view while telling the
story, as in the following passage:
Not that I
would intimate that such strict chastity as was preserved in the temple
of Vesta can possibly be maintained at a public inn. My
good landlady did not hope for such a blessing, nor would any of the ladies
have spoken of, or indeed any others of the most rigid note, have expected
or insisted on any such thing. But to exclude all vulgar concubinage, and
to drive all whores in rags from within the walls, is within the power
of every one. This my landlady very
strictly adhered to, and this her virtuous guests, who did not travel in
rags, would very reasonably have expected of her. (Book 9, Chapter 3)
Tom Jones: The main
character. The story follows his development from infancy to young manhood.
Born out of wedlock, he becomes the adopted child of Squire Allworthy and
the rival of the devious Blifil, the son of Allworthy's sister, Bridget,
and her husband, Captain Blifil. Tom is honest, courageous, and generous
but at times imprudent and downright reckless.
Wealthy landowner who adopts and rears Tom Jones. As his name suggests,
he is "all worthy"—that is, kindly, generous, and morally upright. However,
he sometimes makes unwise decisions.
Bridget Allworthy / Bridget
Blifil: Sister of Squire Allworthy. She gives birth to Tom when she
is unmarried and hires another woman to pose as his mother. After Bridget
marries Captain Blifil, she gives birth to a son who becomes Tom's rival.
Captain Blifil: Husband
Midwife: When attending
Bridget at the birth of Blifil, this woman notices that the child was born
eight months after Bridget married Captain Blifil.
Dr. Blifil: Brother
of Captain Blifil and friend of the Allworthys.
Blifil: Devious son
of Bridget. He tries to manipulate events to assure his inheritance of
Mrs. Deborah Wilkins:
Housekeeper for Squire Allworthy.
Matron: Friend of Mrs. Wilkins who helps her search for the mother
of the squire's adopted child.
Captain Waters: A
Jenny Jones / Mrs. Waters:
Servant girl who poses as the mother of Tom Jones when he is an infant.
Although she is not married, she adopts the name Mrs. Waters after
she begins to live with Captain Waters. She has a sexual encounter with
Tom at an inn at Upton. She later plays a key role in helping to extricate
Tom from difficulties.
Mother of Jenny Jones
wrongly accused of fathering Tom Jones. After Tom grows up, he and Partridge
become traveling companions. Partridge's relationship with Jones resembles
that of a page to a knight. It is also not unlike the comic relationship
between Sancho Panza and Don Quixote in the Cervantes novel Don
Quixote de La Mancha.
Mrs. Partridge: Wife
of Partridge. She dies not long after he loses his school.
George Seagrim (Black
George): Gamekeeper of Allworthy and friend of Tom when he is growing
up. When Tom loses £500, Black George finds the money but does not
return it. Near the end of the novel, Squire Allworthy learns of his deed.
Mrs. Seagrim: Wife
of George Seagrim.
Molly Seagrim: Daughter
of George Seagrim. She seduces Tom.
Betty Seagrim: Molly's
sister. She informs Tom that it was not he who got Molly pregnant.
Will Barnes: Father
of Molly Seagrim's child.
Squire Western: Wealthy
landowner and neighbor of Allworthy. He is a blustery man who loves the
Sophia Western: Beautiful
daughter of Squire Western. She and Tom fall in love, but circumstances
keep them apart until the end of the novel.
Mrs. Western: Sister
of Squire Western. She prides herself on being knowledgeable about society,
culture, and love but lacks the compassion exhibited by her niece, Sophia.
She opposes Sophia's attachment to the lowly Tom Jones.
Mrs. Honour: Sophia's
Rev. Roger Thwackum:
Tutor of Tom Jones and young Blifil. He exhibits favoritism toward Blifil
and looks down on Tom. On one occasion, he severely beats Tom.
Thomas Square: Tutor
of Tom Jones and young Blifil. He likewise exhibits favoritism toward Blifil.
Mr. Supple: Curate
of Squire Allworthy's parish.
Mr. Whitefield: Master
of the Bell, an inn at Gloucester.
Wife of Mr. Whitefield.
attorney of Bridget Blifil. He carries an important message from Bridget
to Squire Allworthy before she dies. In it, she reveals that she is the
mother of Tom Jones. However, Young Blifil intercepts the message and keeps
secret its contents.
Man who announces the arrival of Dowling at Allworthy's house.
Man of the Hill:
Elderly man whom Tom rescues from robbers.
Man of the Hill's Servant
of the Man of the Hill.
commander of two companies of foot soldiers whom Jones joins in their march
to fight Jacobite rebels.
who informs Jones about the mission of himself and his comrades.
Soldier who smashes a bottle on Jones's head and later assaults Mrs. Waters.
Officer marching with the foot soldiers.
Ensign Adderly: Another
ensign serving with the foot soldiers.
Mrs. Harriet Fitzpatrick:
Woman who escapes from an abusive husband and lodges at an inn at Upton
at the same time that Tom Jones is staying there.
Husband of Harriet. After she escapes from him, he tracks her to the inn
at Upton. There, mistakenly believing that she is staying in Tom Jones's
room, he attacks Tom.
Betty: Mrs. Fitzpatrick's
Acquaintance of Fitzpatrick. While staying at the inn at Upton, he points
out to Fitzpatrick that he has been looking in the wrong room for his wife.
Irish Nobleman: Unidentified
by name, this gentleman helped Harriet Fitzpatrick escape from her husband.
He accompanies Harriet and Sophia Western to London.
Master of Inn at Upton:
Inn landlord, who attempts to prevent Jones and Mrs. Waters from lodging
at his establishment.
Landlady of Inn at Upton:
Husband of the master of the inn.
Susan: Maid at the
Quaker: Man who advises
Jones on the road to Bristol to break his journey and stay at an inn.
Robin: Tom's guide
on the road to Bristol.
Master of a Puppet Show:
Man in charge of a traveling puppet show that performs at an ale house
where Tom and Partridge stop.
Grave Matron, Attorney's
Clerk, Exciseman: Members of the audience at the puppet show.
Landlady at Alehouse:
Woman who complains about the content of the puppet show. She believes
the puppeteers should stage Bible stories.
Husband of the Landlady
at the Alehouse: Man whom the landlady berates for allowing the puppeteers
to form at their alehouse.
Grace: Alehouse maid
beaten by the landlady for lewd behavior with the Merry Andrew character
in the puppet show.
King of the Gypsies:
Head of a group of gypsies celebrating a wedding in a barn where Tom and
Partridge stop. He believes the gypsy form of government is superior to
the English government in meting out punishments.
Gypsy Woman: Attractive
lady who pretends to tell Partridge's fortune and ends up in his arms.
But her husband discovers them together.
Husband of Gypsy Woman:
Man berated by the king of the gypsies for allowing his wife to mingle
Mr. Anderson: Bumbling
highwayman who fails in his attempt to rob Tom Jones so that he can feed
Mrs. Anderson: Wife
Lady Bellaston: London
relative of Sophia Western with whom Sophia lodges. Lady Bellaston has
liaisons with many men and seduces Tom Jones. When she discovers that Tom's
true love is Sophia, she becomes jealous and angry and schemes to get revenge
against both of them.
Mrs. Etoff: Lady
Mrs. Miller: Genial
and upstanding woman who provides lodging for Tom and Partridge after they
arrive in London.
Nancy: Teenage daughter
of Mrs. Miller.
Betty Miller: Ten-year-old
daughter of Mrs. Miller.
Lodger at Mrs. Miller's who befriends Tom Jones. He loves Nancy, who becomes
pregnant by him. Later they marry.
Man who fights with Nightingale after the latter reprimands him. Nightingale
Man who arrives at an inn in which Sophia and Mrs. Fitzpatrick are staying
to announce that French forces have landed at Suffolk, England, to support
the Jacobite cause.
Joe: Servant at an
at an inn.
Lady Thomas Hatchet:
Acquaintance of Lady Bellaston.
Lady Betty, Miss Eagle,
Colonel Hampstead, Tom Edwards: Dinner guests of Lady Bellaston.
Lady Edgely: Acquaintance
of Lady Bellaston.
Post-boy at Upton Inn:
Boy who prepares horses for Sophia.
Arabella Hunt: Wealthy
London widow who proposes to Tom.
Man hired by Lord Fellamar to carry out a task.
Vicar of Aldergrove:
Clergyman whose job Thwackum wants after the clergyman dies.
Mr. Summer: Man who
is revealed near the end of the novel to be real father of Tom Jones.
Participants in the Brawl
Outside the Church (Book 4, Chapter 8)
of the Mill
Freckle: Blacksmith's son.
Crow: Daughter of a farmer.
Children of Tom and Sophia
Adams: Tutor of Tom and Sophia's children.
Coachmen, Footmen, Servants
Michael J. Cummings...©
an inherited estate in Somersetshire in southwestern England, Squire Allworthy
lives comfortably in a magnificent Gothic mansion with his spinster sister
Bridget. Allworthy had been married to a beautiful woman who bore him three
children, all of whom died in infancy. Their mother then followed them
to the grave. The squire does not intend to remarry. If Bridget marries
and bears a child, it would become the squire's heir. She has time, for
she is still in her thirties.
evening, upon his return from a three-month business trip in London, the
squire discovers an infant soundly sleeping in his bed and summons his
housekeeper, Mrs. Deborah Wilkins, to care for it until the squire gets
a nurse for the child. Mrs. Wilkins speculates that the child was born
of a neighborhood "hussy" who ought to be punished severely.
how it stinks!" she says. "It doth not smell like a Christian."
recommends that the squire place it in a basket and take it to the local
church. But he has already grown fond of the little chap.
breakfast the next day, Allworthy informs his sister of the find. She exhibits
compassion for the child but not for the mother, whom she refers to as
an "audacious harlet," "wicked jade," and "vile strumpet." After concluding
that none of their virtuous servant girls could be impugned in the matter,
the Allworthys charge Mrs. Wilkins with learning the identity of the mother.
The housekeeper secures the help of a friend, an elderly matron who knows
her way around the neighborhood.
is not long before they fix their suspicion on a young girl named Jenny
Jones, the servant of a schoolmaster, Mr. Partridge. She is unlike other
girls her age in that, surrounded by the schoolmaster's books, she has
educated herself and even learned Latin from her master. The suspicions
of the two women intensify when they recall that Jenny had spent time in
the Allworthy home tending Miss Bridget during an illness.
Mrs. Wilkins summons her, she confesses her guilt. Squire Allworthy, a
magistrate, tells the girl that the law empowers him to punish her. However,
he merely upbraids her for her immoral conduct, then informs her that he
will rear the child in his home and provide for it in a way that she cannot.
When he asks her to identify the father, she says honor and “religious
vows” prevent her from doing so. Allworthy sends her to Little Baddington,
a town a day's journey away, to protect her from wagging tongues. Neighbors
then aim their gossip at Allworthy, suggesting that he fathered the child.
He is, of course, innocent of the charge.
frequent visitor to the home of the squire is Dr. Blifil, who introduces
Bridget to his bachelor brother, age thirty-five. He had served in the
military, first as a lieutenant and then as a captain. After leaving the
service, he took up residence in the country and began studying the Bible.
Bridget falls in love with him, and he falls in love with the Allworthy
wealth. Within a month they marry.
long after the wedding, the captain grows cold toward his brother, then
becomes downright rude to him. Allworthy tries to mend their relationship,
and the captain pretends to reconcile with the doctor. However, out of
the presence of Allworthy, the captain continues maltreat his brother.
One explanation for his behavior is that the captain has always been jealous
of his brother's superior learning. Bridget is “so passionately fond” of
her husband, the narrator says, that she sides with him in everything he
does. Eventually, the doctor moves to London. There, he dies a short while
later of what the narrator characterizes as a broken heart.
Bridget gives birth to a boy. The midwife notices that the child has arrived
exactly eight months after Bridget's marriage to the captain. The squire
suggests that Bridget's son be reared with with his adopted child, whom
he has named Thomas and of whom he has grown very fond. Bridget assents
to the idea, but the captain expresses reservations. Quoting Scripture,
he hints to Allworthy that children of sin, such as Tom, are children of
nobody. He argues in favor of “punishing the crime of the parent on the
bastard.” Allworthy counters with biblical references of his own and asserts
that it would be an outrage to punish the innocent for the sins of the
guilty. He says he will treat Tom as if he were a legitimate child.
reader well knows at this point that what really bothers the captain is
that Tom has become a rival of his and Bridget's son for the inheritance
of the squire's estate.
to Tom's origins, there is fresh news. Mrs. Partridge, the wife of the
schoolmaster, strongly suspects that her husband fathered the child. In
a trial before Squire Allworthy, Partridge denies the charge and asks the
squire to send for Jenny Jones to testify on his behalf. Allworthy does
so. When the messenger returns from Little Baddington, he reports that
Jenny had left her place of residence with a recruiting officer a few days
before. Allworthy then pronounces Partridge guilty and cuts off his annuity.
loses his school after failing to make enough money on his own to support
himself and his wife. Mrs. Partridge now regrets her accusation against
her husband—not only because of the loss of income but also because she
discovers that an acquaintance of Jenny could have been the father of the
child. Partridge's neighbors begin to pity the man, and their sympathy
becomes all the more pronounced after Mrs. Partridge dies of what the narrator
describes as distemper. These neighbors blame Allworthy for causing her
death. Eventually, with his wife, school, and reputation gone, Partridge
moves away. Captain Blifil also goes away—to his grave—after suffering
an attack of apoplexy one evening.
Tom Gets a Whipping
grows into a mischievous lad. On separate occasions, he steals fruit, a
duck, and a ball from young Blifil, Bridget's son. Neighbors begin to think
ill of him. What they do not know is that Tom gives what he steals to the
family of Allworthy's gamekeeper, George Seagrim, who is Tom's friend.
One day, Tom and George, whom people call Black George, go hunting and
scare up a covey of partridges that fly into the property of a neighbor.
Tom and George follow them even though Allworthy has forbidden the gamekeeper
to enter the property. When Black George shoots a partridge, the gunfire
attracts the neighbor to the scene. He finds two guns but only one hunter,
Tom, who is holding the partridge. The gamekeeper is hiding. Under questioning
from Allworthy, Tom refuses to identify the other hunter. The next morning,
the Rev. Roger Thwackum—one of two in-house tutors the squire has hired
to educate Tom and Master Blifil—questions Tom further about the partridge
incident at the behest of Allworthy. When Tom again refuses to identify
the other hunter, Thwackum severely whips the boy. Later, Allworthy feels
sorry for Tom and apologizes for the beating he received. To make him feel
better, he gives him a little horse as a present.
behavior contrasts sharply with that of young Blifil, who is regarded as
“a lad of a remarkable disposition; sober, discreet, and pious beyond his
age; qualities which gained him the love of every one who knew him,” the
other tutor is Thomas Square, a philosopher well read in Plato and Aristotle.
Whenever he and Thwackum are together, they argue about morality, human
nature, virtue, divine grace, and related topics. At dinner one evening,
Square argues that honor is “founded on religion” and Thwackum that it
is “antecedent to religion.” A quarrel between Tom and Blifil interrupts
their argument. It ends when Tom bloodies Blifil's nose for calling him
a “beggarly bastard.” Blifil, crying, says Tom is lying. He then reveals
to the elders a secret that Tom told him: Black George was the other hunter
in the partridge incident. When Allworthy prompts Tom for his side of the
story, Tom admits that Black George was with him, but the boy accepts blame,
saying the gamekeeper begged Tom not to enter the neighbor's property.
did go first,” Tom says, “and he only followed me to prevent more mischief.”
squire dismisses the boys, admonishing them to try to get along.
and Thwackum praise Blifil and condemn Tom. But there will be no whipping
this time, the Squire decides. He then summons the gamekeeper, lectures
him sternly, pays him his wages, and fires him. The servants in the squire's
employ side with Tom, regarding him as a hero for protecting the gamekeeper.
and Square's defense of Blifil is in large part a ploy to ingratiate themselves
with Mrs. Bridget Blifil, whom they take opportunities to compliment. She
accepts their behavior toward her and seems to favor Square over Thwackum.
Regarding Tom, she objects to the squire's treatment of him as the equal
of her son. However, she later softens toward him as he grows into an engaging
young fellow. At the same time she develops an antipathy for her own son.
When the squire reads her feelings, he tries to pay more attention to Blifil
in order to elevate him in his mother's eyes.
Tom sells his horse to provide money for the beleaguered family of Black
George, a gesture that impresses the squire and Mr. Square. Thwackum's
attitude toward Tom remains unchanged. When the squire sees for himself,
at the urging of Tom, the poverty Black George and his family must endure,
he reconciles with the man and decides to find a way to provide for his
family. However, young Blifil later tells Allworthy that Black George had
killed hares on Squire Western's property while in Allworthy's employ.
Allworthy then decides not to help Black George's family. But Blifil had
deliberately distorted the details of the story. In particular, Black George
had killed a single hare and sold it to provide for his family after he
lost his job.
and Blifil continue to be rivals.
Tom Impresses His Neighbors
time passes, Tom spends time with the Westerns—notably the squire and his
pretty daughter, Sophia, who persuades her father, at Tom's request, to
hire Black George. The squire thinks Tom a considerable athlete, for he
once observed him leap over five barred fences. Sophia, in the meantime,
falls in love with the handsome lad. But Tom, now in his late teens, has
been seeing Black George's daughter, Molly, sixteen.
of her age and Tom's respect for her, he avoids making advances toward
her. In fact, so concerned is he about controlling his passions that “he
actually abstained three whole months without ever going to Seagrim's house,
or seeing his daughter,” the narrator says. However, Molly, being
quite forward, throws herself at Tom and he succumbs to her charms.
hunting with Squire Western one day, Tom accepts an invitation to dine
in Western's home. One of the guests—Mr. Supple, a curate in the parish
of Allworthy—reports news that Molly Seagrim is pregnant. Squire Allworthy
made the discovery that very morning when he saw Molly “at the eve of bringing
forth” a child, Supple says. When Squire Allworthy questioned her about
the father, she refused to identify him, he says. Tom immediately excuses
himself and leaves. His abrupt departure leads Western to guess that Tom
is the father, although he does not think ill of him for it. To her dismay,
Sophia thinks her father is right.
he arrives home, Tom admits that he “corrupted” the girl. Allworthy is
angry with Tom but at the same time pleased that the young man had the
backbone to acknowledge his offense. Mr. Square, who never liked Tom, attempts
to envenom Allworthy against the youth by saying, “You now plainly see
whence all the seeming generosity of this young man to the family of the
gamekeeper proceeded. He supported the father in order to corrupt the daughter
. . . .” Allworthy worries that what Square says is true.
day, Squire Western takes Sophia on a hunt with him. On the second day
of the expedition, she is returning from a chase when she loses control
of her horse. It so happens that Tom is riding nearby and, seeing the trouble
she is in, rides over to help her. When her horse throws her, Tom catches
her but breaks his arm. Sophia is quite shaken by the incident. Mrs. Honour,
Sophia's maid, attends her mistress and praises Tom for his gallantry.
After a surgeon treats Tom's injury, Western orders the youth to bed in
the Western house.
receives many visits while bedridden. Among them are Allworthy and Thwackum.
Allworthy gently reminds Tom of his past behavior so that he may learn
from it and be a better man in the future. Thwackum tells him that "he
ought to look on his broken limb as a judgment from heaven on his sins.”
meanwhile, falls in love with Sophia. However, he still feels a responsibility
to Molly. One day, he visits her and, during their conversation, discovers
Mr. Square hiding in the room. He is wearing a nightcap. Square is embarrassed,
of course, but Tom promises to keep his presence there a secret. Molly's
sister Betty later tells Tom that another of Molly's visitors, Will Barnes,
had been the first to debauch Molly and that her expected child is his,
freed of the burden of Molly, Tom begins seeing Sophia. His presence at
the Western residence delights the squire, and from time to time he insists
that Tom stay there for several days. On several occasions, he sojourns
there for a fortnight.
Allworthy Becomes Sick
becomes ill and, told by the doctor that he is in danger of death, reveals
his will. It leaves almost the entirety of his estate to Blifil. It also
bequeaths him an additional £500 pounds a year after the death of
his mother. The will provides Tom a one-time bequest of £1,000 and
a yearly benefit of £500. Square and Thwackum are to receive £1,000
each. Servants are to get small bequests.
footman enters to announce that an attorney from Salisbury has arrived
with an urgent message. While Blifil goes out to receive the message, the
others leave the room. Mrs. Wilkins, Square, and Thwackum all believe they
should have received a larger bequest. When Allworthy's physician arrives
to check on the squire's condition, Blifil reports that the attorney, named
Dowling, informed him that his mother has died. The doctor wishes to keep
the news from Allworthy, but Blifil says he is under strict instructions
from the squire never to hide anything from him. However, at the very moment
that Blifil makes this statement, Allworthy is making a remarkable recovery.
When Blifil informs him of the death of Bridget, the squire says, “The
Lord's will be done in everything.” Then he appoints Blifil to make the
celebrates Allworthy's recovery with wine. Blifil objects, saying now is
no time for merriment but for mourning for his mother. Tom apologizes and
asks to shake Blifil's hand, but Blifil rejects it and insults Tom regarding
the circumstances of his birth. A scuffle ensues. Thwackum and the doctor
break it up, and the combatants make peace.
wanders into nearby fields and meditates “on his dear Sophia,” the narrator
says. After taking out his knife, he is about to carve a message on a tree
when Molly happens upon the scene. After they talk for a while, Tom—now
heady with the wine—goes with her into a grove. Blifil and Thwackum are
taking a walk when Blifil spies activity in the grove. They investigate.
Thwackum castigates Tom and asks him to identify “the slut” with him. Tom
blocks their way into the grove, and Thwackum and Blifil attack Tom. Squire
Western is out for his afternoon walk. Accompanying him are Sophia, a clergyman,
and Mrs. Western (Squire Western's sister and Sophia's aunt). When
they come upon the melee, the squire evens the odds. Tom and Western win
Western notices that Sophia is exhibiting signs of being in love and assumes
that Blifil is the object of her affection. She reports her finding to
her brother. When Western dines with Allworthy, he passes the information
on. Allworthy, in turn, talks the matter over with Blifil, who eagerly
agrees to a union with Sophia. (He covets the Western wealth.)
Sophia's aunt later informs the girl of what has taken place, Sophia reveals
that she loves Tom, not Blifil. Shocked, the aunt says, “"And is it possible
you can think of disgracing your family by allying yourself to a bastard?
Can the blood of the Westerns submit to such contamination?” Sophia replies
that she has kept secret her love for Tom and would not have revealed it
had she known that her aunt would disapprove of it. The aunt rants on about
the horror of a match between a Western and so lowly a fellow as Tom. Crying,
Sophia begs her aunt not to reveal her secret, for she does not wish to
to offend her father. The aunt agrees on one condition: that she begin
seeing Mr. Blifil and regard him as the person she will marry.
entertaining Blifil in the Western home that afternoon, Sophia decides
to tell her father how she really feels about Blifil. But he is now fixed
on a match between her and Blifil. Tom happens to be in the house that
day. When he talks with Sophia, they pledge undying love for each other.
the aunt tells Western the whole story about Sophia and Tom. Western, in
turn, tells Allworthy. Allworthy then apprises Blifil of the situation
and asks whether he still wishes to marry Sophia. Blifil is not willing
to give up his prize. He wants her money, and he wants to nettle Tom. He
then tells Allworthy about Tom's behavior in the grove with Molly. Allworthy
summons Tom, gives him a wallet containing £500, and orders him out
of the house. His clothes and personal effects will be sent later to an
of his choosing.
Tom Takes to the Road
walking off, Tom stops by a creek to think and decides not to try to win
back Sophia. To do so would only cause her trouble. After he moves on,
he stops at a house and writes a letter to Sophia. It says, in part,
“O Sophia! it is hard to leave you; it is harder still to desire you to
forget me; yet the sincerest love obliges me to both.” .......Searching
his pockets for wax to seal the envelope, he discovers that the wallet
with £500 is missing. When he returns to the creek to look for it,
he comes upon Black George, who helps him search. What Tom does not know
is that Black George has already found the wallet and pocketed it.
then asks Black George to deliver his letter, and the latter agrees to
do so while Tom goes to an alehouse along the road to await George's return.
When George takes it to Sophia, she gives him her own letter to take to
Tom. It says, in part, “Believe this, that nothing but the last violence
shall ever give my hand or heart where you would be sorry to see them bestowed."
also gives George money for Tom. This time, Black George does not steal
the money for fear that Tom would find out about the theft in the future..
heads for Bristol, intending to go to sea, but ends up joining foot soldiers
marching to meet the Duke of Cumberland to fight Roman Catholic rebels.
He says he will serve as a volunteer in the cause, without enlisting.
also leaves her home, accompanied by her maid, Mrs. Honour, after learning
that a date has been set for her marriage to Blifil.
soldiers halt their march in the evening to have supper at an inn. After
the meal, they take turns making toasts. When Tom's turn comes, he raises
his glass to Sophia, mentioning her last name at the request of a lieutenant.
Ensign Northerton, who was bested by Tom in a round of repartee, sees an
opportunity to get back at Tom and says he has heard of her and claims
she “was lain with by half the young fellows at Bath.” Tom then calls him
“one of the most impudent rascals on earth.” Ensign Northerton smashes
a bottle against Tom's head, opening a wound and knocking him out. The
lieutenant orders Northerton arrest. Tom is taken to bed and a surgeon
is called in to treat his wound.
later buys a sword from a sergeant to defend his honor. When he goes to
Northerton room late at night, a sentinel shoots at him, thinking him a
ghost, and falls on his face in fright. Jones walks by him and enters Northerton
room, but the latter is nowhere to be found. Jones returns to his room.
Other soldiers, roused by the sound of the shot, help the terrified sentinel
to his feet. Later, they discover that the ensign—perhaps fearing disciplinary
action or perhaps worried that Jones would die and that he would be held
to account—has escaped.
a long sleep, Jones awakens feeling refreshed. He asks the landlady to
prepare food for him and sends for a barber. Called Little Benjamin, the
barber has a knack for making interesting and humorous talk, and he and
Tom enjoy several conversations—one over a bottle of wine. The next morning,
the barber reveals himself as Mr. Partridge, the man who bore the blame
for getting Jenny Jones pregnant. (After leaving the country when Tom was
still a child, Partridge worked for lawyers in Salisbury and Lymington,
then later became involved in a lawsuit for allowing a pig he kept to run
roughshod over a neighbor's garden, spent time in jail, taught school at
Cork in Ireland, and later returned to England and took a job as a barber
at his present location). He assures Tom, however, that he is not Tom's
father. They get along well, and Partridge says he would like to tag along
with Tom. He hopes he can persuade Tom to return with him to Squire Allworthy's
so that he can restore his reputation and get back in the squire's good
next day, they travel to Gloucester without incident and stop at the Bell,
operated by Mr. And Mrs. Whitefield. It is a pleasant inn, and Mrs. Whitefield
invites Tom to dinner. Other guests include Mr. Dowling, the Salisbury
lawyer who delivered the news of Bridget Billfold's death, and another
lawyer, who is a cheat and a troublemaker. After Tom finishes his meal
and leaves the table, the the second lawyer tells lies about Tom to Dowling
and Mrs. Whitefield. Afterward, Dowling leaves for Hereford, saying he
has urgent business there. The other lawyer also leaves. When Mrs. Whitefield
next sees Jones, the lies told by the second lawyer cause her to treat
him so coldly that he decides to leave after paying his bill.
Rescues an Old Man
cold soon gets the better of Jones and Partridge, and they stop at a house
and beg admittance to warm themselves. Its occupant, a woman, refuses them
entry at such a later hour. Tom promises her half a crown if she opens
the door, and she accepts the enticement but says they may stay only a
short while. When they are leaving, they hear shouting. Two men are attempting
to rob an old man, and they throw him down. Jones grabs an old broadsword
hanging on the wall and charges the villains. They run off. The old man,
who is the master of the house, heartily thanks Tom, as does the woman,
the old man's servant. Called the Man of the Hill, the elderly gent then
tells Tom the story of himself—of how he came under the influence of an
unsavory person named Watson at college, fell into gambling, reformed,
went to war with Watson, and suffered betrayal by Watson when the latter
delivered him into the hands of the enemy. He escaped and came to the house
he now occupies, wise in the ways of men.
Jones goes for a walk with the Man of the Hill, they hear the screams of
a woman. Jones goes into the woods to investigate and sees a half naked
woman under the assault of a man. Jones knocks the man to the ground with
an oak rod and continues to thrash him until even the woman tells him to
stop. The villain is Ensign Northerton, who runs off. After Jones takes
the lady to an inn at Upton, he sends her immediately to one of the rooms.
The landlady and the landlord—offended by the appearance of a half-clad
woman in their fine establishment—attack Jones with weapons. Tom, carrying
a cudgel of his own, fights back. An Amazonian chambermaid named Susan
joins the fray, as does Partridge.
woman and her maid enter the inn, followed by a sergeant and several musketeers.
When the lady Tom rescued comes back downstairs, she is using a pillowcase
to cover her bosom. The sergeant recognizes her as the wife of a certain
Captain Waters, addressing her as “her ladyship.” The landlady now apologizes
for her behavior, as does the landlord, and gives Mrs. Waters a gown. Peace
is restored to the inn.
Partridge identifies Tom as “the heir of Squire Allworthy,” the landlady
thinks Tom quite a gentleman. Mrs. Waters by this time has become enthralled
with handsome Tom, and she takes keen notice when he casts an eye in the
direction of the woman who arrived in a coach.
Waters had lived with Captain Waters for many years as his wife, although
they were never actually married. Northerton is in the same regiment as
Captain Waters, and Mrs. Waters had developed a fondness for the ensign
that sullied her reputation. One day, they decided to abscond to Wales.
After they left, Northerton turned against her, taking her diamond ring
and money and assaulting her. It was at this time that Tom came to her
Irishman named Fitzpatrick enters the inn in search of his wife, Harriet,
who is the niece of Squire Western and cousin of Sophia. She had run away
to marry Fitzpatrick five years before. What she did not know was that
Fitzpatrick was marrying her for her money. After they became husband and
wife, he began abusing her. Eventually, she escaped from his clutches and
now she is hiding at the inn.
Fitzpatrick discovers that a woman (Mrs. Waters) is in Tom's room, he goes
there thinking that she is his wife. Seeing a woman's clothing strewn here
and there in the room, he starts a fight with Tom. Another Irishman at
the inn, Mr. Machlachlan, intervenes. A friend of Fitzpatrick, he informs
him that he is in the wrong room. When Fitzpatrick sees Mrs. Waters he
apologizes to her but not to Tom.
and by, a young woman of beauty and refinement, Sophia, enters the inn
with her maid, Mrs. Honour. When Mrs. Honour questions the landlady about
her establishment, the latter notes that people of quality stay there,
such as young Mr. Allworthy, referring to Tom. Partridge corrects her,
saying that the young man is indeed from Squire Allworthy's but goes by
the name of Tom Jones. After Mrs. Honour informs her mistress of the situation,
Sophia learns that another woman is with Tom. What is more, the chambermaid,
Susan, tells Sophia that Jones had cast Sophia in a bad light. "He told
us, madam, though to be sure it is all a lie, that your ladyship was dying
for love of the young squire," Susan says, "and that he was going to the
wars to get rid of you." Sophia then tells Mrs. Honour, "I am now convinced
he is not only a villain, but a low despicable wretch."
decides not to stay at the inn. A post boy prepares horses for her and
Mrs. Honour. Before quitting the inn, Sophia leaves behind her muff and
a piece of paper on which she has written her name with a pencil. At the
same time, Harriet Fitzpatrick and her maid sneak out and ride away on
Squire Western Arrives
Western and several of his men arrive at the inn to search for Sophia.
Fitzpatrick continues to seek his wife. Western has never before met Fitzpatrick.
When he sees Tom, he grabs him believing Sophia is probably not far away.
With the squire is Parson Supple, the curate of Allworthy's parish, who
points out that Tom has Sophia's muff. Fitzpatrick, seeing future gain
for himself with the squire, says he earlier saw Tom in bed with Sophia.
Fitzpatrick escorts the squire, followed by others, to the same room Fitzpatrick
previously entered and finds Mrs. Waters. She screams at the sight of the
raging squire. The squire then searches the rest of the house but of course
does not find Sophia. Fitzpatrick tells him that stealing a muff is a felony,
and a magistrate staying at the inn is pressed into service to hear the
case. After Partridge testifies on behalf of Tom, Susan informs the magistrate
that she herself carried the muff to Tom's room at the request of Sophia.
The magistrate dismisses the case. Western curses everyone and leaves to
pursue his daughter. However, not long after he is on the road again, he
hears a pack of hunting dogs pursuing a quarry. So much does he love the
thrill of the chase that he rides into a corn field, in the direction of
the barking, and joins the hunt. The narrator says, "The squire who owned
the hounds was highly pleased with the arrival of his brother squire and
sportsman." That evening, Western dines and drinks with the other squire.
In the morning, unsure of which way to go to pursue his daughter, he decides
to return home to Somersetshire but dispatches some of his men to continue
the pursuit of Sophia.
Jones abandons his plan to fight with the foot soldiers and instead pursues
Sophia. Fitzpatrick and Machlachlan take a coach to Bath, and Mrs. Waters
decides to go with them.
her way to London with Mrs. Honour, Sophia runs into Harriet Fitzpatrick,
her cousin, and Harriet's maid. They all stop at the same inn. There, Harriet
tells the story of how she met and married Fitzpatrick, a handsome man,
unaware that he was after her money. They moved to Ireland. When Harriet
found out about her husband's true intentions toward her, the marriage
went sour and her husband began to berate her. She later bore him a child.
Meanwhile, he had an affair while spending beyond his means. When Harriet
confronted him about his behavior, he confined her under lock and key.
But she escaped.
leaving the inn, Sophia and Harriet, along with their maids, move on to
London in the coach of a friend of Harriet, an Irish nobleman who, by coincidence,
had put up at the same inn. This gentleman had an estate that neighbored
the residence of the Fitzpatricks and, after becoming aware of Mr. Fitzpatrick's
abuse of his wife, had helped her escape.
London, Sophia stays with her cousin, Lady Bellaston; Harriet Fitzpatrick
goes to the residence of the Irish lord. On the road, Tom and Partridge
meet a man in rags who begs for alms. Partridge rebukes him, saying, “Every
parish ought to keep their own poor.” But Jones says, “Can any man who
is really a Christian abstain from relieving one of his brethren in such
a miserable condition?" He then gives the man a shilling. The man then
offers to sell a little book that he found. He shows it to Tom. When Jones
opens it, he sees Sophia's name written in it. A piece of paper falls from
the pages, a bank note for £100. Tom rewards the man, and he and
Partridge move on. Late in the day, Tom and Partridge stop an an ale house
where a puppet show is to be staged. It is now dark and Partridge says
they might as well stay at the inn and see the puppet show. So they remain
there and see the performance.
their overnight stay, a puppeteer tells Tom that he saw a woman fitting
Sophia's description pass by the day before.
about eight the following morning, Tom and Partridge set out once again.
The puppeteer shows Tom the place where he saw the young woman. After Tom
rewards him, they follow the road that leads from that place.
Storm Interrupts Journey
later stop at an inn after a storm interrupts their journey. Inside, they
meet a lad who acted as a guide for Sophia on her journey, and the boy
agrees to take them to the inn where Sophia stopped. Tom rents horses and
off they go, the three of them. At three in the morning they halt their
journey at another inn to pick up new horses. But not a single horse is
available. Lawyer Dowling happens to be staying at the inn, and he encourages
Tom to stay the night and get a fresh start in the morning. Tom, however,
wishes to continue on. While the horses eat corn, he and Dowling sit down
to a bottle of wine. When the lawyer toasts Allworthy and Blifil, Tom apprises
him of the malicious nature of Blifil, of which Dowling had no knowledge.
hath the cunning of the devil himself, and you may live with him many years,
without discovering him,” Jones says.
says it is unfortunate that such a person is to inherit Allworthy's estate.
The lawyer wants to know more about Tom, so the latter tells him his history.
Afterward, Tom and Partridge continue their journey. During a storm, they
take shelter in a barn, where gypsies are celebrating a wedding.
resuming their journey, they press on to Coventry, then Daventry, then
Stratford, then Dunstable. During their travels, they learn that Sophia
is traveling in the coach of the Irish lord.
Jones and Partridge are nearing London, a man approaches on a horse and,
because it is late at night, asks to ride with them into London. They welcome
him. When they are about a mile from Highgate, the man pulls a pistol and
attempts to rob Tom. The man is holding the pistol so close to Tom that
the latter wrests it from him in a struggle that causes the would-be robber
to fall on his back. The man then begs for mercy, saying he has a wife
and five hungry children he must care for. The pistol, he says, is not
loaded. Jones checks it, discovers that it is indeed empty, takes pity
on the fellow, and gives him a few guineas.
arriving in London, Jones hopes to discover, somehow, the residence of
the Irish nobleman who accompanied Sophia and Mrs. Fitzpatrick to London.
But on the first day in the city he has no luck, and he and Partridge put
up at the Bull and Gate inn for the night. The next day, he finds the nobleman's
house and bribes the porter to allow him to present himself at the door.
Sophia had been there ten minutes before, but left. The Irish nobleman
is also away. When Mrs. Fitzpatrick's maid greets Tom, she tells him Sophia
has left the house for an unknown destination. Mrs. Fitzpatrick herself
appears and gives him the same answer. Thinking Tom is one of Squire Western's
pursuers, she refuses him permission to wait for her to return.
thinks he has been lied to; he believes Sophia is in the house but is upset
with him for what happened at the Upton Inn. So he stands vigil in front
of the house hoping that she will relent and see him.
the evening, Mrs. Fitzpatrick invites him in. After talking awhile with
Tom, she mistakes him for Blifil and refuses to provide information about
Sophia's whereabouts. After Tom leaves, her maid, Betty, tells Mrs. Fitzpatrick
that their visitor was “too pretty a man . . . for any woman in the world
to run away from.” Therefore, the maid says, he must have been Tom Jones.
Meanwhile, the nobleman returns.
Fitzpatrick Goes to Lady's Bellaston's
the reader will remember, Mrs. Fitzpatrick ran away from the Westerns to
get married, thereby estranging herself from them. She now sees an opportunity
to reconcile with them by keeping Jones and Sophia apart. In the morning,
she goes to Lady Bellaston's to begin executing her plan. Because Lady
Bellaston had often “ridiculed romantic love,” Mrs. Fitzpatrick thinks
she would most likely help her with her plan.
Mrs. Fitzpatrick recounts for Lady Bellaston the story of Tom and Sophia
and notes that Tom had visited her at the Irish nobleman's house, Lady
Bellaston reveals that her servant, Mrs. Etoff, told her all about this
handsome young man the previous day. (Mrs. Etoff had received her information
from Sophia's maid, Mrs. Honour.) Lady Bellaston wishes to meet Tom. She
gets the opportunity later in the day after Mrs. Fitzpatrick returns home
and admits Tom, who has been keeping vigil outside the house. Shortly after
he enters, Lady Bellaston arrives. The ladies devote their attention to
Tom until the Irish lord enters the room. He then becomes the center of
attention and Tom, whom the great lord ignores, becomes a mere observer.
Before he leaves, Tom informs Mrs. Fitzpatrick of where he is staying.
next day, Tom calls on Mrs. Fitzpatrick again but is refused admittance
under orders from his lordship, who, the narrator says, may think it improper
for a young man to be visiting her.
and Partridge are lodging on Bond Street at the inn of a clergyman's widow,
Mrs. Miller, who has two daughters, Nancy, seventeen, and Betty, ten. It
is a house that Squire Allworthy had purchased and now maintains as his
lodging place whenever sojourns in London.
the evening, Tom hears a ruckus downstairs and discovers a footman choking
a young man against the wall. The assailant is the footman of the young
man, called Nightingale. Tom pulls Nightingale loose. A fierce fight ensues,
but Tom overcomes his foe. Nervously watching everything is Nancy. After
Nightingale heartily thanks Tom, Nightingale fires the footman and pays
him his wages.
invites Tom to sit down with him to a bottle of wine. Nancy, whose mother
and sister are at a stage play, joins them. Nightingale explains that the
footman had spilled porter on the open pages of a book. When he reprimanded
the footman, the latter rebuked him with insulting language. Nightingale
then struck him, and the footman was upon him.
Nancy's mother returns with Betty, they all have an enjoyable conversation.
receives a domino and an invitation to a masquerade ball signed by “the
queen of fairies.” Intrigued, he attends, along with Nightingale, hoping
that Sophia will also be there. While talking with a woman dressed as a
shepherdess, a woman dressed as a domino taps him on the shoulder and says,
"If you talk any longer with that trollop, I will acquaint Miss Western."
Jones follows her, begging her to provide information about Sophia. He
follows her all the way to her home in Hanover Square. When she unmasks
herself, it is Lady Bellaston who stands before Tom. She promises to arrange
for him to meet with Sophia if he agrees to "take his leave of her" thereafter.
He talks with her many hours. When he returns to Mrs. Miller's, he has
not only her promise to disclose the whereabouts of Sophia but also a bank
note for £50 that she gave him.
next day, Mrs. Miller tells him about a cousin whose whose family is severely
impoverished. Tom generously gives her several guineas for them.
Bellaston Meet Again
and Lady Bellaston meet several more times at a secret trysting place,
but she continues to withhold information about Sophia. Tom knows what
she wants, sexual intimacy. But when he obliges her, she remains mum on
the subject of Sophia.
going out to meet her again, this time at her own home when Sophia is to
be attending a play, Mrs. Miller introduces him to the poor cousin who
received Tom's money. His name is Anderson, and he is the same man who
tried to rob Tom on the road. But Tom addresses him as an "honored acquaintance."
Anderson heaps praise on Tom for coming to his rescue, saying his children
now have a bed to sleep on and bread to eat.
then goes out to see Lady Bellaston. After he arrives and waits inside,
Sophia comes through the door. She had left the play before the end of
the performance. At first, she has harsh words for Tom concerning what
he said about her at the Upton inn, but Tom points out that it was Partridge
who talked about her. Susan, the maid, had wrongly identified the speaker.
So they reconcile. When Lady Bellaston comes in, she does not reveal that
she knows Tom. Sophia says Tom came to see her simply to return her book
and money. He leaves.
the ensuing days, Lady Bellaston visits Tom at his lodgings. While they
are talking, Tom receives a surprise visit from Mrs. Honour, who bears
a letter for him from Sophia. Before she enters his room, Lady Bellaston
hides behind a curtain behind the bed. After Mrs. Honour enters, she gives
Tom the letter from Sophia, which asks him to refrain from visiting her
at Lady Bellaston's house. Mrs. Honour speaks of how Tom has "bewitched"
Sophia and then demeans Lady Bellaston, saying the servants in her house
"make no scruple of saying as how her ladyship meets men" at a house she
rents. After Mrs. Honour leaves, Lady Bellaston emerges in a rage. "You
see," she says, "what I have sacrificed to you; my reputation, my honour—gone
for ever! And what return have I found? Neglected, slighted for a country
girl, for an idiot."
next morning, Mrs. Miller tells Tom of her concern that entertaining women
in his room will give her residence a reputation "as a house of ill-fame."
Tom responds, "I shall, as soon as I am able, look for another lodging."
Nancy becomes pregnant with Nightingale's child. Her pregnancy puts him
in a predicament, he says, because his father had ordered him to woo a
wealthy young lady named Miss Harris, who is ugly. To overcome this problem,
Jones and Nightingale tell Nightingale's father that his son is already
married. This ploy works until Nightingale's uncle discovers that the young
man and Nancy are not married. The uncle then takes Nightingale home with
him, there to lodge.
Bellaston—now full of loathing for both Sophia and Tom—devises a scheme
of revenge that involves manipulating a young nobleman, Lord Fellamar.
He had escorted Sophia back to Lady Bellaston's on the night she was returning
from the play, and he became enraptured by her beauty and charm, calling
her a “blazing star.” When he tells Lady Bellaston that he wishes to marry
Sophia, Lady Bellaston further whets his appetite by saying that Sophia
has an income of £3,000 a year. But he must act quickly to win Sophia,
she tells him, for the young lady is expected to run away with another
man, Tom Jones, whom she describes as "a beggar, a bastard, a foundling,
a fellow in meaner circumstances than one of your lordship's footmen."
What Fellamar must do, she says, is come to her home the next evening at
seven o'clock. Sophia will be in her room, but Lady Bellaston will be out.
He then must go to Sophia's room and rape her.
women love a man of spirit,” she says.
at first balks at this plan, but Lady Bellaston persuades him that he would
be doing Sophia a favor, for he would make her a good husband.
Fellamar arrives at Lady Bellaston's the next evening, he goes to Sophia's
room while she is reading a tragedy, Fatal Marriage, and begs her
to accept him, telling her, “I cannot lose you . . . You are, you must,
you shall be only mine.” Sophia answers, “I am resolved to go from you
this moment; nor will I ever see you more." When he grabs her, Squire Western's
voice booms through the house and, in a moment, he is in the room with
his parson. (Mrs. Fitzpatrick had previously written to the Westerns to
report the whereabouts of Sophia. Doing so was part of her previously mentioned
plan to redeem herself in Western's eyes for eloping with Mr. Fitzpatrick.)
squire scolds Sophia and orders her to marry “one of the great matches
in England.” He means Blifil, but Fellamar thinks the squire is referring
to him. Fellamar says he is pleased that the squire finds him acceptable.
Western says, “Who the devil are you?” Then he roars profanities at Fellamar
and threatens to thrash him. Fellamar leaves. Lady Bellaston then tells
the squire that he has just insulted a nobleman of high rank and fortune
who wants to marry Sophia. Western says he wants his daughter to marry
a country gentleman. He then leaves with Sophia and keeps her in his quarters
at the Hercules Pillars inn at Piccadilly Circus, a busy London intersection.
Nightingale leaves his uncle's home and marries Nancy. The story then moves
along at a fast pace with the following developments:
and Sophia Marry
Lady Bellaston sends three letters
to Tom to request that he meet with her at her residence.
Tom learns from Nightingale
that Lady Bellaston has an unsavory reputation for her dalliances with
other men. Nightingale says the best way to get rid of her is to propose
marriage to her. Tom is wary of this idea, but he writes a letter asking
for her hand.
Mrs. Miller receives word that
Squire Allworthy and Blifil are coming to London. They will lodge in her
house. To avoid crowding and to keep his promise to Mrs. Miller, Tom moves
to a new address, as do Mr. and Mrs. Nightingale.
Arabella Hunt, a widow of a
turkey merchant and a good friend of Mrs. Miller, has taken notice of Tom
at his lodgings, and she writes a letter proposing that they marry. She
is attractive, though tending toward stoutness, and possesses considerable
wealth. Tom rejects the proposal, of course, an action that will later
stand in his favor with Sophia.
Squire Western locks Sophia
in a room at his lodgings in Piccadilly Circus. Among the servants now
working for Western is Black George, who accompanied him to London.
Mrs. Western, the squire's sister,
arrives in London, argues with the squire about his treatment of Sophia,
and moves her to her place of lodging. Black George acts as a go-between
for Sophia and Tom, delivering letters from Tom to Sophia and Sophia to
Tom. Sophia informs Tom that she is now staying with her aunt.
Squire Allworthy and Blifil
arrive in London.
Lady Bellaston hatches another
plot, this time getting Fellamar to arrange for Jones to be captured by
a press gang for service aboard a ship.
Lady Bellaston calls upon Mrs.
Western to tell her about Lord Fellamar's fondness for Sophia. She also
gives her the letter in which Tom proposed marriage to Lady Bellaston.
Mrs. Western later shows it to Sophia. Mrs. Western now supports a match
between Sophia and Fellamar.
Mrs. Fitzpatrick, who had been
hoping to be reconciled with the Westerns, is treated coldly by both the
squire and Mrs. Western. She abandons her plan of reconciling with them.
Jones attends a production of
with Mrs. Miller, her daughter Betty, and Partridge. In the audience is
Mrs. Fitzpatrick. After the play, she asks Jones to see her at her residence.
Jones meets with Mrs. Fitzpatrick.
She suggests that he make false advances toward Mrs. Western in order to
gain access to Sophia. Jones rejects her plan.
Mr. Fitzpatrick finally learns
the whereabouts of his wife and goes to her residence just when Tom is
coming out. When Fitzpatrick draws a sword against Tom, Tom draws his own
weapon and they duel. Though Tom lacks fencing knowledge, he makes up for
his ignorance with spirit and plunges his sword into Fitzpatrick, who says,
“I am a dead man.”
The press gang hired by Fellamar
captures Jones, who tells them to be sure to see to the care of the wounded
Fitzpatrick. The officer in command of the gang now says it is his duty
to abandon plans for impressing Jones and instead take him before a constable.
Fitzpatrick receives treatment
from a surgeon at a tavern. A messenger reports back to the constable that
Fitzpatrick will likely die.
The constable orders Jones to
appear before a justice. The justice imprisons Tom.
When Allworthy and Blifil arrive
at Mrs. Miller's, Blifil speaks ill of Tom in front of Mrs. Miller. She
then strongly defends Tom as a generous and kindly man who has done great
service to her family. Blifil then reports that Tom killed a man (Fitzpatrick),
but Mrs. Miller says the victim must have been at fault in the incident.
Squire Western arrives and tells
Allworthy he wants to bind Sophia to a marriage with Blifil, but Allworthy
says Sophia should not be forced to marry anyone.
Mrs. Honour now works for Lady
Bellaston and becomes a source of information about Sophia, information
that she passes along to Mrs. Western's maid, who in turn passes it along
to Mrs. Western.
Mrs. Western uses this information
to try to manipulate Sophia and ultimately get her to agree to a marriage
between herself and Fellamar, but Sophia says she will have nothing to
do with the man, noting he had tried to rape her.
Mrs. Miller and Nightingale
visit Tom to cheer him up. Tom learns that the only witnesses to the duel
were aboard a ship. The crewmen say Tom was the first to wield his sword.
Thus, his situation appears dire.
Mrs. Waters visits Tom to report
that Fitzpatrick did not die after all and is now recuperating from his
Partridge, erroneously believing
Mrs. Waters is Tom's real mother, tells him that he slept with the woman
who gave birth to him.
Nightingale and Mrs. Miller
tell Squire Allworthy what a commendable young man Tom is.
On a visit to Nightingale's
father, Squire Allworthy learns that Black George had given Old Nightingale
£500 in bank notes to invest for him. Upon examining the bank notes,
Allworthy discovers that they are the same ones he gave Tom. Black George
later runs away and is never again heard from.
On his deathbed, Mr. Square
sends a letter to Allworthy saying that he deliberately maligned Tom in
the past and that Tom is, in fact, a noble and upright person. Thwackum
also sends Allworthy a letter, but it criticizes Tom. It also asks Allworthy
to make Thwackum the vicar of Aldergrove after the current vicar dies.
Mrs. Waters tells Allworthy
that Partridge did not father Jones; it was a man named Summer, the son
of a clergyman friend of the Squire who was visiting Allworthy with his
son. As to the mother? It was Bridget, Allworthy's sister. She had conspired
with the mother of Jenny Jones (now Mrs. Waters) to have Jenny pose as
Mrs. Waters tells Allworthy
that a lawyer called on her, thinking she was Mrs. Fitzpatrick, asking
whether she wanted to bring a case against Jones. The lawyer himself comes
in—Dowling—and discloses that it was Blifil who asked him to pursue a case
against Tom Jones. In fact, Dowling and Blifil have been in cahoots for
He also says he gave Blifil
a letter from his mother, Bridget, after she died. It was for Allworthy,
but Blifil never passed it on. It reveals that Tom was Bridget's son.
Mrs. Miller informs Sophia of
why Tom proposed marriage to Lady Bellaston. Sophia still has reservations
about Tom because of his unbecoming behavior with other women. However,
Mrs. Miller points out that he refused a marriage proposal from Mrs. Arabella
Hunt, the turkey merchant's wealthy widow. Further speaking up for Tom,
Mrs. Miller makes it clear that his central motivation in all of his activities
after arriving in London was his love for Sophia.
Tom gains his freedom after
Fitzpatrick exonerates him from blame in the duel. Lord Fellamar, believing
that he had wronged Tom, helps to gain his release.
reconciles with Squire Allworthy. When he at long last faces Sophia alone
in a room, she remains reluctant to marry a young man who so frequently
strayed across moral boundaries with other women. However, after he pleads
with her, she says she will give him about a year to prove himself. Squire
Western, who is eavesdropping on their conversation, breaks in and says
they ought to marry the next day. Sophia bows to the will of her father,
and so the two lovers marry. They celebrate at a reception held jointly
for them and for Nightingale and Nancy. Blifil is no longer welcome in
the presence of Allworthy. However, Tom—generous as always—persuades the
squire to provide Blifil an annual income of £200. Sophia supports
this move. Blifil moves to a locale about two hundred miles north of London.
There, he plans to buy a seat in the next parliament. He also becomes a
Methodist in order to make himself appealing to a wealthy Methodist widow
with an estate near his new residence.
dies. Thwackum no longer enjoys the favor of Squire Allworthy. He flatters
both Allworthy and Tom to regain his former standing—to no avail. Squire
Western moves to a home in another part of the country, where there is
good hunting, and leaves most of his property to Tom and Sophia. Within
a few years, Sophia bears two children, a boy and a girl, and Squire Western
dotes on them during his visits to the Jones home.
hires a man named Abraham Adams to tutor the children of Tom and Sophia.
Mrs. Fitzpatrick remains separated from Mr. Fitzpatrick. Nightingale and
Nancy, along with Mrs. Miller and Betty, live at an estate near the Jones
Waters is now married to Parson Supple and receives an annual income of
£60 from Allworthy. Partridge receives £50 a year from Jones
and establishes another school. It appears that he is likely to marry Molly
main conflict is Tom Jones vs the forces he must overcome to reunite with
Sophia and become a responsible young adult. These forces include the people
attempting to match Sophia with Blifil or Fellamar. They also include the
forces inside Tom himself—such as his reckless and lustful behavior—that
he must master to win Sophia and become an upstanding young man.
father, like son," an old saying proclaims. The narrator notes that Captain
Blifil married Bridget for the Allworthy money. This observation foreshadows
young Blifil's preoccupation with inheriting the Allworthy estate.
the birth of Blifil after eight months of marriage hints at the promiscuous
nature of Bridget, preparing the reader for the eventual revelation that
she bore Tom out of wedlock.
series of important developments occurs in chapters 17 and 18 that testify
to Tom's parentage and character and reconcile him with Squire Allworthy.
Taken together, these developments resemble a climax. However, the true
climax appears to occur in Chapter 12 of Book 18 when Tom and Sophia are
left alone in a room to confront each another. In this scene, Sophia still
has reservations about marrying Tom because of his history of wanton behavior.
Tom implores her again and again to accept him, pledging his love for her
and vowing to remain ever faithful and morally upright. If she rejects
him, all of his efforts on her behalf will be for naught, and the novel
will end unhappily. But she says she will accept him on condition that
he undergo a trial period of perhaps twelve months to prove his worth.
Squire Western, who has been eavesdropping on their conversation, then
steps in and says such a long wait is folly. They should marry the next
day. Sophia says she will obey her father. Her decision prepares the way
for further disclosures and a look at the first few years of Tom and Sophia's
marriage, which gives them two children.
Jones as a Mock Epic
epic such as The Iliad or The Aeneid uses a serious
tone and a dignified, elevated writing style to describe heroic events.
A mock epic borrows the style of such an epic to describe trivial events
as if they were heroic. Many passages in Tom Jones are written in
the mock-heroic style for comic effect. The following two passages are
mock-heroic battles, the first occurring outside a church and the second
at the inn at Upton.
The Church Battle
having endeavoured in vain to make a handsome retreat, faced about; and
laying hold of ragged Bess, who advanced in the front of the enemy, she
at one blow felled her to the ground. The whole army of the enemy (though
near a hundred in number), seeing the fate of their general, gave back
many paces, and retired behind a new-dug grave; for the churchyard was
the field of battle, where there was to be a funeral that very evening.
Molly pursued her victory, and catching up a skull which lay on the side
of the grave, discharged it with such
The Free-for-All at the Upton
fury, that having hit a
taylor on the head, the two skulls sent equally forth a hollow sound at
their meeting, and the taylor took presently measure of his length on the
ground, where the skulls lay side by side, and it was doubtful which was
the more valuable of the two. Molly then taking a thigh-bone in her hand,
fell in among the flying ranks, and dealing her blows with great liberality
on either side, overthrew the carcass of many a mighty heroe and heroine.
O Muse, the names of those who fell on this fatal day. First, Jemmy Tweedle
felt on his hinder head the direful bone. Him the pleasant banks of sweetly-winding
Stour had nourished, where he first learnt the vocal art, with which, wandering
up and down at wakes and fairs, he cheered the rural nymphs and swains,
when upon the green they interweaved the sprightly dance; while he himself
stood fiddling and jumping to his own music. How little now avails his
fiddle! He thumps the verdant floor with his carcass. Next, old Echepole,
the sowgelder, received a blow in his forehead from our Amazonian heroine,
and immediately fell to the ground. He was a swinging fat fellow, and fell
with almost as much noise as a house. His tobacco-box dropped at the same
time from his pocket, which Molly took up as lawful spoils. Then Kate of
the Mill tumbled unfortunately over a tombstone, which catching hold of
her ungartered stocking inverted the order of nature, and gave her heels
the superiority to her head. Betty Pippin, with young Roger her lover,
fell both to the ground; where, oh perverse fate! she salutes the earth,
and he the sky. Tom Freckle, the smith's son, was the next victim to her
rage. He was an ingenious workman, and made excellent pattens; nay, the
very patten with which he was knocked down was his own workmanship. Had
he been at that time singing psalms in the church, he would have avoided
a broken head. Miss Crow, the daughter of a farmer; John Giddish, himself
a farmer; Nan Slouch, Esther Codling, Will Spray, Tom Bennet; the three
Misses Potter, whose father keeps the sign of the Red Lion; Betty Chambermaid,
Jack Ostler, and many others of inferior note, lay rolling among the graves.
(Book 4 , Chapter 8)
must now have fallen to the side of the travellers (for the bravest troops
must yield to numbers) had not Susan the chambermaid come luckily to support
her mistress. This Susan was as two-handed a wench (according to the phrase)
as any in the country, and would, I believe, have beat the famed Thalestris
herself, or any of her subject Amazons; for her form was robust and man-like,
and every way made for such encounters. As her hands and arms were formed
to give blows with great mischief to an enemy, so was her face as well
contrived to receive blows without any great injury to herself, her nose
being already flat to her face; her lips were so large, that no swelling
could be perceived in them, and moreover they were so hard, that a fist
could hardly make any impression on them. Lastly, her cheek-bones stood
out, as if nature had intended them for two bastions to defend her eyes
in those encounters for which she seemed so well calculated, and to which
she was most wonderfully well inclined.
fair creature entering the field of battle, immediately filed to that wing
where her mistress maintained so unequal a fight with one of either sex.
Here she presently challenged Partridge to single combat. He accepted the
challenge, and a most desperate fight began between them.
the dogs of war being let loose, began to lick their bloody lips; now Victory,
with golden wings, hung hovering in the air; now Fortune, taking her scales
from her shelf, began to weigh the fates of Tom Jones, his female companion,
and Partridge, against the landlord, his wife, and maid; all which hung
in exact balance before her; when a good-natured accident put suddenly
an end to the bloody fray, with which half of the combatants had already
sufficiently feasted. This accident was the arrival of a coach and four;
upon which my landlord and landlady immediately desisted from fighting,
and at their entreaty obtained the same favour of their antagonists: but
Susan was not so kind to Partridge; for that Amazonian fair having overthrown
and bestrid her enemy, was now cuffing him lustily with both her hands,
without any regard to his request of a cessation of arms, or to those loud
exclamations of murder which he roared forth. (Book 9, Chapter 3)
Epic Journey Toward Manhood
central theme of the novel is the amusing epic journey of Tom Jones toward
maturation, self-realization, and union with his beloved. Jones begins
his journey as a mischievous adolescent, continues it as an adventurous
and reckless teenager, and concludes it as a mature and morally upright
adult who settles down as a husband and father.
hero confronts perils and undergoes trials before completing his journey.
In this respect, Fielding's hero is like the hero of Homer's
the great epic poem recounting the adventures of Odysseus on his way home
after the Trojan War. In The Odyssey, for example, the hero, Odysseus,
encounters alluring women who steer him away from his ultimate goal, which
is to reunite with his beloved Penelope. In Tom Jones, the hero,
Tom, likewise meets seductive women, who divert his attention from Sophia.
In Homer's work, Odysseus battles monsters, such as the twin terrors Scylla
and Charybdis, and becomes a prisoner on Calypso's island; in Fielding's
work, Tom also battles monsters, such the twin terrors Thwackum and Square,
and becomes a prisoner in a London jail. Ultimately, Odysseus returns home
to Penelope and vanquishes the suitors seeking the hand of Penelope. Tom,
too, returns home after vanquishing Sophia's suitors and marrying her.
is an important difference, however, between the recounting of Tom's journey
and the recounting of the journey of Odysseus: The former is comical and
playful; the latter is deadly serious, with an elevated tone.
Importance of Character
vs Family Origin
spite of the faults that Tom exhibits during his adolescent and teenage
escapades, he is always trustworthy, and charitable. He is also resourceful
and courageous. Nevertheless, Thwackum, Square, and many other adults in
his life look down on him because he was born out of wedlock and is thought
to be the bastard son of a servant girl. Many of those with a pedigree,
on the other hand, lack the integrity of Tom.
Love: Tom Jones's
love for Sophia, thwarted at first by his own behavior and the actions
of others, continues to burn within him after Squire Allworthy banishes
him. After Tom determines to win her back, his love for her becomes the
primary motive in everything he does, even when he becomes the plaything
of Lady Bellaston.
and Other References
Blifil pretends to be honest, loyal, and fair-minded but is a hateful schemer
behind the backs of others. Thwackum and Square pretend to be morally upright.
But Thwackum abuses Tom; Square visits the morally loose teenager Molly
Bridget, the mother of Tom, hires Jenny Jones to pretend to be his mother.
Blifil learns after the death of his mother that she was also the mother
of Tom Jones. But he pretends to know nothing of the matter while continuing
demean his half-brother.
Many of life's turning points result from coincidences. In Tom Jones,
coincidences occur frequently (perhaps too frequently), and often they
are indeed turning points. One of the most memorable coincidences in the
book occurs when Tom happens to be out riding when Sophia loses control
of her horse. When it throws her, he catches her but breaks his arm. The
accident leads to his confinement to a bed in the Western home. While recuperating,
he falls in love with Sophia. Another important coincidence occurs when
Tom happens upon Mrs. Waters as Ensign Northerton assaults her. Mrs. Waters
is really Jenny Jones, the woman Bridget Allworthy manipulated into posing
as Tom's mother. She gets to know Tom—intimately—and later reveals to Allworthy
information about Tom's parentage. Still another major coincidence occurs
when Tom's barber, Little Benjamin, turns out to be Partridge, the man
falsely accused of fathering Jones. He becomes Tom's traveling companion.
Other coincidences involving Jones occur when he runs into a beggar with
a book lost by Sophia and when Mrs. Miller introduces him to Mr. Anderson,
the impoverished man who tried to rob Jones. There are also many coincidences
that do not involve Jones directly, such as Black George's appearance at
Old Nightingale's residence when Allworthy is a visitor.
Lack of Self-Control:
Many of the characters act out of the emotion or desire of the moment without
regard for the morality or consequences of their action. Tom, Bridget Allworthy,
Molly Seagrim, Lady Bellaston, Mr. Fitzpatrick, Ensign Northerton, and
Black George are among the characters who lack self-mastery.
narrator frequently alludes, or directly refers, to mythology, history,
poems, and other sources to draw an image or make a comparison. For example,
in describing Partridge's wife, he alludes to the shrewish ways of Xanthippe,
the wife of Socrates, saying Mrs. Partridge
was "a profest [professed] follower of that noble
sect founded by Xantippe [Xanthippe] of old; by means of which she became
more formidable in the school than her husband; for, to confess the truth,
he was never master there, or anywhere else, in her presence" (Book 2,
describing the beauty of Sophia in Chapter 2 of Book IV, the narrator alludes
to a 1612 funeral elegy by John Donne entitled the "Progress of the Soul."
The poem eulogizes Elizabeth Drury, the daughter of Sir Robert Drury, a
patron of Donne. Here is Fielding's description of Sophia's complexion,
followed by an excerpt from the Donne poem that supports Fielding's description:
Her complexion [Sophia's]
had rather more of the lily than of the rose; but when exercise or modesty
increased her natural colour, no vermilion could equal it. Then one might
indeed cry out with the celebrated Dr Donne:
Chapter 2 of Book 13, the narrator compares the porter at the Irish lord's
London residence to Cerberus, the gatekeeper of Hades in Greek and Roman
mythology. Cerberus—a fierce, three-headed dog with the tail of a dragon—would
admit anyone to Hades (hell) but would not allow anyone to leave. Here
is the passage referring to Cerberus:
Her [Elizabeth Drury's] pure and eloquent blood
Spoke in her cheeks, and so distinctly wrought
That one might almost say her body thought.
I have often thought
that, by the particular description of Cerberus, the porter of hell, in
the 6th Aeneid, Virgil might possibly intend to satirize the porters of
the great men in his time; the picture, at least, resembles those who have
the honour to attend at the doors of our great men. The porter in his lodge
answers exactly to Cerberus in his den, and, like him, must be appeased
by a sop before access can be gained to his master. (Book 13, Chapter 2)
example of an allusion that helps to form an image is in Chapter 14 of
Book 7. In this allusion, the narrator compares Tom Jones to the ghost
of Banquo, one of the murder victims in Shakespeare's Macbeth. Jones
is walking in a hall of an inn late at night, sword in hand, toward the
room of Ensign Northerton. Earlier in the night, Northerton had smashed
a bottle against Jones's head without warning, knocking him out. Jones
is seeking revenge against Northerton. Here is the passage:
In the right hand
he carried a sword, and in the left a candle. So that the bloody Banquo
was not worthy to be compared to him. In fact, I believe a more dreadful
apparition was never raised in a church-yard, nor in the imagination of
any good people met in a winter evening over a Christmas fire in Somersetshire.
Chapter 2 of Book 18, the narrator recounts an argument between Squire
Western and his sister. In describing their language, he alludes to the
profanity used at a London fish market called Billingsgate.
[N]either his patience
nor his prudence could bear it any longer; upon which there ensued between
them both so warm a bout at altercation, that perhaps the regions of Billingsgate
never equalled it.
Jones is rich in metaphors, alliterations, and other figures of speech
that set the mood, describe a character or his or her actions, narrate
an event, and so on. Following are examples of figures of speech in the
Repetition of a Consonant
we may remark
that at this season love is of a more
and steady nature than what sometimes
shows itself in the younger parts
of life. (Book 1 , Chapter 11)
[S]he had scarce
into the inn. . . .(Book 11, Chapter
Repetition of a word, phrase,
or clause at the beginning of word groups occurring one after the other
the little trembling hare, which the dread of all her numerous enemies,
and chiefly of that cunning, cruel, carnivorous animal, man, had confined
all the day to her lurking-place, sports wantonly o'er the lawns; now
on some hollow tree the owl, shrill chorister of the night, hoots forth
notes which might charm the ears of some modern connoisseurs in music;
in the imagination of the half-drunk clown, as he staggers through the
churchyard, or rather charnelyard, to his home, fear paints the bloody
hobgoblin; now thieves and ruffians
are awake, and honest watchmen fast asleep; in plain English, it was now
midnight; and the company at the inn, as well those who have been already
mentioned in this history, as some others who arrived in the evening, were
all in bed. Only Susan Chambermaid was now stirring, she being obliged
to wash the kitchen before she retired to the arms of the fond expecting
hostler. (Book 10, Chapter 2)
all the charms of the incomparable Sophia; not
all the dazzling brightness, and languishing softness of her
eyes; the harmony of her voice, and of her person; not
all her wit, good-humour, greatness of mind, or sweetness of
disposition, had been able so absolutely to conquer and enslave the heart
of poor Jones, as this little incident of the muff. (Book 5, Chapter 4)
an abstraction or thing, present or absent, or addressing an absent person
O, Shakespear! had
I thy pen! O, Hogarth! had I thy pencil! then would I draw the picture
of the poor serving-man. . . . (Book 10, Chapter 8)
Outcome That Is the Opposite
of What One Expects
Chapter 4 of Book 1,Bridget Allworthy characterizes the mother of Tom Jones
as an "impudent slut, a wanton hussy, an audacious harlot, a wicked jade,
a vile strumpet." Bridget, of course, is Tom's mother, a fact that she
is trying to hide.
fights injustice but, ironically, becomes its agent when he finds Partridge
guilty of fathering Tom Jones.
and Square are supposed to be learned men who impart knowledge and wisdom.
But when it comes to compassion and love, they are empty vessels.
Form of irony in which a
reader or an audience is aware of something of which the speaker is not
the following passage, Mrs. Western (who is speaking to Squire Western)
is unaware, or refuses to believe, that she is also an oppressive influence.
I am sorry for what hath happened; and that my niece should have behaved
herself in a manner so unbecoming her family; but it is all your own doings,
and you have nobody to thank but yourself. You know she hath been educated
always in a manner directly contrary to my advice, and now you see the
consequence. Have I not a thousand times argued with you about giving my
niece her own will? But you know I never could prevail upon you; and when
I had taken so much pains to eradicate her headstrong opinions, and to
rectify your errors in policy, you know she was taken out of my hands;
so that I have nothing to answer for. Had I been trusted entirely with
the care of her education, no such accident as this had ever befallen you;
so that you must comfort yourself by thinking it was all your own doing;
and, indeed, what else could be expected from such indulgence? (Book 10,
Comparison of unlike things
without using like, as, or than
Comparison of Deborah
Wilkins to a kite (a large bird that preys on small mammals, reptiles and
insects) and of the people who see her to smaller birds
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.
when the approach of Mrs Deborah was proclaimed through the street, all
the inhabitants ran trembling into their houses, each matron dreading lest
the visit should fall to her lot. (Book 1, Chapter 6)
Comparison of Sophia's
complexion to attire worn by death and love
[T]he pale livery of death
succeeds the red regimentals in which Love had before drest her cheeks.
. . . (Book 6, Chapter 9)
Comparison of things or
ideas to persons
Envy, the sister
of Satan, and his constant companion, rushed among the crowd, and blew
up the fury of the women; who no sooner came up to Molly than they pelted
her with dirt and rubbish. (Book 4, Chapter 8)
Comparison of unlike things
using like, as, or than
The poor woman [landlady
at the Upton inn] had indeed been loading her heart with foul language
for some time, and now it scoured out of her mouth, as filth doth from
a mud-cart, when the board which confines it is removed. (Book 10, Chapter
Study Questions and Essay
an essay that analyzes the strengths and weaknesses of Tom Jones (the character,
not the book).
an essay that compares and contrasts Mrs. Western and Mrs. Miller.
an essay that compares and contrasts Squire Allworthy and Squire Western?
motivates Black George more, need or greed?
what ways does the novel resemble a classical epic, such as The Odyssey
or The Aeneid?.
Who is the least admirable male in the novel? Who is the least admirable
female? Explain your answers.
|Fielding Ridicules Critics
with novels of today,
Tom Jones is unique in that it contains entire
chapters centering on topics unrelated or marginally related to the plot.
One such chapter is Chapter 1 of Book 11, which ridicules literary critics.
But modern readers do not seem to mind Fielding's digressions. Indeed,
they are one of the delights of the novel and one of the reasons that the
work continues to enjoy a favored place on the bookshelves of readers worldwide.
The chapter appears below.
A Crust for the Critics
By Henry Fielding
our last initial chapter we may be supposed to have treated that formidable
set of men who are called critics with more freedom than becomes us; since
they exact, and indeed generally receive, great condescension from authors.
We shall in this, therefore, give the reasons of our conduct to this august
body; and here we shall, perhaps, place them in a light in which they have
not hitherto been seen.
word critic is of Greek derivation, and signifies judgment. Hence
I presume some persons who have not understood the original, and have seen
the English translation of the primitive, have concluded that it meant
judgment in the legal sense, in which it is frequently used as equivalent
am the rather inclined to be of that opinion, as the greatest number of
critics hath of late years been found amongst the lawyers. Many of these
gentlemen, from despair, perhaps, of ever rising to the bench in Westminster-hall,
have placed themselves on the benches at the playhouse, where they have
exerted their judicial capacity, and have given judgment, _i.e._, condemned
gentlemen would, perhaps, be well enough pleased, if we were to leave them
thus compared to one of the most important and honourable offices in the
commonwealth, and, if we intended to apply to their favour, we would do
so; but, as we design to deal very sincerely and plainly too with them,
we must remind them of another officer of justice of a much lower rank;
to whom, as they not only pronounce, but execute, their own judgment, they
bear likewise some remote resemblance.
in reality there is another light, in which these modern critics may, with
great justice and propriety, be seen; and this is that of a common slanderer.
If a person who prys into the characters of others, with no other design
but to discover their faults, and to publish them to the world, deserves
the title of a slanderer of the reputations of men, why should not a critic,
who reads with the same malevolent view, be as properly stiled the slanderer
of the reputation of books?
hath not, I believe, a more abject slave; society produces not a more odious
vermin; nor can the devil receive a guest more worthy of him, nor possibly
more welcome to him, than a slanderer. The world, I am afraid, regards
not this monster with half the abhorrence which he deserves; and I am more
afraid to assign the reason of this criminal lenity shown towards him;
yet it is certain that the thief looks innocent in the comparison; nay,
the murderer himself can seldom stand in competition with his guilt: for
slander is a more cruel weapon than a sword, as the wounds which the former
gives are always incurable. One method, indeed, there is of killing, and
that the basest and most execrable of all, which bears an exact analogy
to the vice here disclaimed against, and that is poison: a means of revenge
so base, and yet so horrible, that it was once wisely distinguished by
our laws from all other murders, in the peculiar severity of the punishment.
the dreadful mischiefs done by slander, and the baseness of the means by
which they are effected, there are other circumstances that highly aggravate
its atrocious quality; for it often proceeds from no provocation, and seldom
promises itself any reward, unless some black and infernal mind may propose
a reward in the thoughts of having procured the ruin and misery of another.
hath nobly touched this vice, when he says—
my purse steals trash; 't is something, nothing;
all this my good reader will doubtless agree; but much of it will probably
seem too severe, when applied to the slanderer of books. But let it here
be considered that both proceed from the same wicked disposition of mind,
and are alike void of the excuse of temptation. Nor shall we conclude the
injury done this way to be very slight, when we consider a book as the
author's offspring, and indeed as the child of his brain.
'Twas mine, 'tis
his, and hath been slave to thousands:
But he that filches
from me my good name
Robs me of that WHICH
NOT ENRICHES HIM,
BUT MAKES ME POOR
reader who hath suffered his muse to continue hitherto in a virgin state
can have but a very inadequate idea of this kind of paternal fondness.
To such we may parody the tender exclamation of Macduff, "Alas! Thou hast
written no book." But the author whose muse hath brought forth will feel
the pathetic strain, perhaps will accompany me with tears (especially if
his darling be already no more), while I mention the uneasiness with which
the big muse bears about her burden, the painful labour with which she
produces it, and, lastly, the care, the fondness, with which the tender
father nourishes his favourite, till it be brought to maturity, and produced
into the world.
is there any paternal fondness which seems less to savour of absolute instinct,
and which may so well be reconciled to worldly wisdom, as this. These children
may most truly be called the riches of their father; and many of them have
with true filial piety fed their parent in his old age: so that not only
the affection, but the interest, of the author may be highly injured by
these slanderers, whose poisonous breath brings his book to an untimely
the slander of a book is, in truth, the slander of the author: for, as
no one can call another bastard, without calling the mother a whore, so
neither can any one give the names of sad stuff, horrid nonsense, &c.,
to a book, without calling the author a blockhead; which, though in a moral
sense it is a preferable appellation to that of villain, is perhaps rather
more injurious to his worldly interest.
however ludicrous all this may appear to some, others, I doubt not, will
feel and acknowledge the truth of it; nay, may, perhaps, think I have not
treated the subject with decent solemnity; but surely a man may speak truth
with a smiling countenance. In reality, to depreciate a book maliciously,
or even wantonly, is at least a very ill-natured office; and a morose snarling
critic may, I believe, be suspected to be a bad man.
will therefore endeavour, in the remaining part of this chapter, to explain
the marks of this character, and to show what criticism I here intend to
obviate: for I can never be understood, unless by the very persons here
meant, to insinuate that there are no proper judges of writing, or to endeavour
to exclude from the commonwealth of literature any of those noble critics
to whose labours the learned world are so greatly indebted. Such were Aristotle,
Horace, and Longinus, among the antients, Dacier and Bossu among the French,
and some perhaps among us; who have certainly been duly authorised to execute
at least a judicial authority "in foro literario."
without ascertaining all the proper qualifications of a critic, which I
have touched on elsewhere, I think I may very boldly object to the censures
of any one past upon works which he hath not himself read. Such censurers
as these, whether they speak from their own guess or suspicion, or from
the report and opinion of others, may properly be said to slander the reputation
of the book they condemn.
may likewise be suspected of deserving this character, who, without assigning
any particular faults, condemn the whole in general defamatory terms; such
as vile, dull, d--d stuff, &c., and particularly by the use of the
monosyllable low; a word which becomes the mouth of no critic who is not
though there may be some faults justly assigned in the work, yet, if those
are not in the most essential parts, or if they are compensated by greater
beauties, it will savour rather of the malice of a slanderer than of the
judgment of a true critic to pass a severe sentence upon the whole, merely
on account of some vicious part. This is directly contrary to the sentiments
Verum ubi plura nitent in carmine, non ego paucis
Offendor maculis, quas aut incuria fudit,
Aut humana parum cavit natura—
But where the beauties, more in number, shine,
I am not angry, when a casual line
(That with some trivial faults unequal flows)
A careless hand or human frailty shows.—MR FRANCIS.
as Martial says, "Aliter non fit, Avite, liber." No book can be otherwise
composed. All beauty of character, as well as of
countenance, and indeed
of everything human, is to be tried in this manner. Cruel indeed would
it be if such a work as this history, which hath employed some thousands
of hours in the composing, should be liable to be condemned, because some
particular chapter, or perhaps chapters, may be obnoxious to very just
and sensible objections. And yet nothing is more common than the most rigorous
sentence upon books supported by such objections, which, if they were rightly
taken (and that they are not always), do by no means go to the merit of
the whole. In the theatre especially, a single expression which doth not
coincide with the taste of the audience, or with any individual critic
of that audience, is sure to be hissed; and one scene which should be disapproved
would hazard the whole piece. To write within such severe rules as these
is as impossible as to live up to some splenetic opinions: and if we judge
according to the sentiments of some critics, and of some Christians, no
author will be saved in this world, and no
man in the next.
Tom Jones on DVD