Tom Jones

Summary

Book XV

Summary Book XV

Chapter XII

Partridge capers into Jones's room with good tidings. He has found out that Black George is now a servant in Squire Western's apartment in London, by which means Tom may send letters to Sophia. Much to Tom's frustration, however, Partridge cannot remember the name of the street on which Western lives.

Analysis

Book XV reveals the extent of Lady Bellaston's wickedness when she attempts to convince Lord Fellamar to rape Sophia. Fielding prevents the reader from seeing the "rape scene" in a tragic light, however, by the manner in which he describes it. Fielding further achieves this by including Lady Bellaston's humorous distortions of Classical literary descriptions of rape in Chapter IV. Fielding makes fun of many characters on the basis of their poor Classical knowledge—such as Partridge, and literary critics.

The introduction of Lord Fellamar, first as a nameless gentleman who takes Sophia home from a play and then as a suitor, is indicative of Fielding's characterization method throughout the novel—he often withholds characters' names until a few chapters after their introduction. This delay is perhaps intended to rouse the reader's analytical energies—indeed, the narrator urges his reader not to be lazy, but to constantly interpret characters' words and actions for themselves. Fielding often provides an explanation or analysis himself, but always after some delay. For example, in Chapter III Fielding first praises Lady Bellaston's "Little World Society" as "an honourable Club," but a couple of paragraphs later refers to it as a "comical Society."

The behavior of Squire Western deserves some attention in this book, as his rejection of Lord Fellamar stems not only from his conservative nature, but also from his loyalty to the country and to tradition. The fact that Western is not simply ravenous for the status and riches Lord Fellamar would bring to his family, as is Mrs. Western, allows the reader to grant him some integrity.