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Tom Jones

Henry Fielding

Book VII

Book VI

Book VIII

Summary

Chapter I

The narrator expounds on the analogy between world and stage, so often made in literature. From this, he says, we might applaud those who have been so good at mimicking the world that we cannot tell the copy from the original. He says, however, that the audience has always been forgotten in these comparisons. The narrator predicts how his spectators' reactions to Black George stealing Tom's five hundred pounds. He says that the people of worst character are the first to criticize.

Chapter II

Jones is sent his possessions by Allworthy, with an accompanying letter from Blifil telling him that Allworthy no longer wants to speak to Tom. Blifil urges Tom to change his lifestyle. Tom laments having to abandon Sophia, then, having decided to go to sea, hires horses to take him to Bristol. Here we will leave Tom's story, says the narrator, and return to Sophia.

Chapter III

Sophia is now released from her prison. She says that her refusal of Blifil is the only matter on which she will disobey her aunt and her father. She despises him. This confession makes Mrs. Western even more resolved to marry her off to Blifil. She asserts that in a marriage, the "Alliance between the Families is the principal Matter." Western swears at Sophia, causing Mrs. Western to remind him not to intervene. Western accuses his sister of filling Sophia's head "with a Pack of Court Notions." He says that she has "made a Whig of the Girl." Mrs. Western storms out of the house, leaving Sophia concerned and Squire Western enraged.

Chapter IV

Mr. Western moans to Sophia that men are always mistreated. He claims it was hard enough with Sophia's mother. Sophia's mother died when Sophia was eleven years old. She was a faithful wife to Mr. Western, who "returned that Behaviour, by making what the World calls a good Husband. He very seldom swore at her (perhaps not above once a Week) and never beat her." Western gets satisfaction out of complaining of Sophia's late mother since he is envious of the greater love Sophia bore for her mother than for him.

Chapter V

Sophia refuses to say a word during her father's invective against her mother. This makes him even angrier. He supposes that she will take her aunt's side too. Sophia does not want to seem ungrateful to her father, but she must remind him that her aunt loves him more than any sister loves a brother. He accuses Sophia of causing his sister such "violent Passions." Sophia encourages him to stop Mrs. Western from departing, to which Western finally agrees. Sophia rereads Tom's letter and cries over her muff. Mrs. Honour comforts her by recounting a list of the most eligible bachelors in the neighborhood, which results in Sophia angrily dismissing Honour.

Chapter VI

Squire Western and Mrs. Western reunite as they plan the match between Sophia and Blifil. Blifil visits Sophia but the narrator says that he is going to omit the details of this scene. Blifil is happy with the courtship, but Western, who has eavesdropped with his sister on the meeting, is not, and wants the youths to tie the knot the following day. Blifil agrees with Western, since he was in fact not satisfied with the meeting. To stop the reader's suspense, the narrator confides that Blifil is not entirely devoid of Lust and now thinks of Sophia as "a most delicious Morsel." Moreover, Blifil savors the fact that he has triumphed over Tom. Allworthy gives his assent and the "Treaty" is closed. Sophia's actions will soon disrupt the Treaty, however.

Chapter VII

Honour tells Sophia she is to be married the following morning. Honour says she would not object to marrying Blifil, whom she thinks to be "a charming, sweet, handsome Man." Sophia announces her plan to run away from the house that evening and to stay with a lady relative in London, whom she met at her aunt's house, and who invited Sophia to her house whenever Sophia was in London. She says that if Honour really possesses the friendship she has always claimed, then she will accompany her. Honour expresses concern at the idea of them walking alone in the freezing cold of winter, but Sophia promises compensation. Together, they plot how Honour can get herself dismissed by Mr. Western.

Chapter VIII

Honour weighs up the pros and cons of running away with Sophia. She desires to see London, and Sophia's generosity promises more monetary rewards. Mrs. Western's maid provokes Honour by calling Sophia a "Country Girl," and Honour retaliates by saying that Sophia is "younger, and ten thousand Times more handsomer" than Mrs. Western. Mrs. Western's maid tells Mrs. Western that Honour called her "ugly." Mrs. Western refuses to sleep another night in the house unless Squire Western discharges her.

Chapter IX

After threatening to send Honour to Bridewell prison, Squire Western, who is also a Justice of Peace, merely dismisses her. Honour now has no qualms about running away with Sophia, and they pick a place to meet at midnight. Sophia consents to her father's wish for her to marry Blifil, and he rewards her with a generous bank bill. Sophia so enjoys making her father happy that she now has some doubts about leaving, but then Sophia's thoughts of Tom destroy all her filial obedience. The narrator hopes the reader is not disappointed with Sophia, but pleads that he cannot "vindicate the Character of our Heroine, by ascribing her Actions to supernatural Impulse."

Chapter X

Tom and his guide have lost their way. At the first village, Tom asks some men for directions. A quaker by the name of Broadbrim points out to Tom that he is on the wrong route and recommends a reputable public house to Tom, since it is dark and there have been robberies nearby. At this public house, the Landlord Robin tells Jones his history. He has nothing in the house because his wife and his wife's favorite daughter, who has just married, have taken everything. Broadbrim tells Tom that his daughter ran away with a man, rejecting the prosperous marriage he arranged for her. Tom pushes Broadbrim violently out of the room. Robin accuses Tom of being a bastard, and Tom is made to sleep in a chair. Robin cannot sleep, terrified that Tom will rob his bare house.

Chapter XI

During the night, a troop of soldiers arrives and demands beer from the landlord. Tom mingles with the men. Some soldiers leave the house without paying for their drinks and a dispute arises. Tom, who has been speaking to the Sergeant about becoming a volunteer in the army to confront the Jacobite rebels, offers to pay the bill. This wins Jones the appellations of "honourable, noble, and worthy Gentleman." Tom is attracted to the army by his love of liberty and the Protestant religion. He marches off with the Serjeant, who tells Tom made-up stories about his conquests. Tom is introduced to the Lieutenant, who marvels at Tom's "Air of Dignity."

Chapter XII

The Lieutenant, who is almost sixty years old, has not received many promotions despite his forty-year military career. It does as not help that his wife, whom his commander fancied, refused to sacrifice her virtue for her husband's career. The Lieutenant is a "religious, honest, good-natured Man."

Analysis

With Tom's adventures on the road to Bristol and Sophia's preparations to flee her father, the novel's picaresque form takes control. The picaresque is the novel form used to describe journeys whose aim or destination is unclear from the outset. Neither Tom nor Sophia have a fixed destination, since they are traveling to escape somewhere.

The wars that have merely been alluded to by Squire Western and Mrs. Western in previous books become a reality as Tom confronts the army at the public house in Bristol. However, Fielding does not concern himself as much with the plight of the army as with the relationships between its members. For instance, Tom pays a bar tab to stop a brawl from erupting amongst the officers, and listens to the invented war stories of the Sergeant. Tom will never actually reach the wars, but they remain a constant presence throughout the novel.

This "historical" novel, then, is not a history of the Jacobite Rebellion, but is rather a collage of personal "histories," or stories. When Jones arrives at the public house, the landlord Robin and the quaker Broadbrim assail Tom with their narratives. They desire to hear his background, too, which Tom's guide has already divulged. The narrator contrasts Tom's genuine interest in stories with other characters' nosy curiosity.

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