Tom Jones


Book IV

Summary Book IV

In Squire Western's house, Sophia now reigns supreme. Tom often dines with the father and daughter, since he shares Squire Western's passion for hunting. However, Tom has gallantry, which sets him apart from the "boisterous Brutality of mere Country Squires." Tom is now twenty, and has earned a reputation of being a "pretty Fellow" by all the ladies of the neighborhood. Sophia's natural ebullience increases whenever she has the pleasure of Tom's company, but Tom is too young to notice, and Squire Western is too much absorbed in his animals and sports. Unsuspecting, Squire Western allows Tom and Sophia plenty of time alone together. Sophia's heart is "irretrievably lost" to Tom before she even suspects it is in Danger.

Tom asks Sophia one afternoon if she will do him a favor. Sophia blushes, but Tom soon puts her beating heart to rest with his plea for Black George. Tom says that if Squire Western takes action against Black George, it will be surely be the death of him and his family. Sophia, having recovered her composure, smiles and says that this is not a big favor to ask. Indeed, the previous day she herself sent a "small Matter" to Black George's wife. The narrator informs us that this "small Matter" was in fact one of Sophia's own gowns, linen, and ten shillings. Tom had heard of Sophia's generosity, which encouraged him to ask for her assistance. Tom begs Sophia to urge her father to find employment for Black George. Sophia promises to try her best if Tom will return a favor. After exclaiming "I would sacrifice my Life to oblige you," Tom kisses Sophia's hand. This is the first time Tom's lips have ever touched Sophia's body, and she now feels "a Sensation to which she had been before a Stranger." Once Sophia regains her voice, she begs Tom not to take her father on such dangerous hunts. Tom gives his word, and then leaves.

Squire Western likes to hear Sophia play on the harpsichord every afternoon. Sophia, although an accomplished musician, has learned her father's favorite songs—mainly lewd ballads—to make him happy. On this night, Sophia plays his favorites, which elates him. Sophia takes this moment to make her request on behalf of Tom, and her father whole-heartedly agrees. The next morning, Squire Western summons his lawyer to write out a Deputation. Tom's actions are now made public and while some sing his praises others, including Square and Thwackum, harshly criticize him. Allworthy, however, is an advocate for Tom's virtue, which he says lies in the "Perseverance and Integrity of his Friendship." The narrator hints that Fortune will not be as kind to Tom in the following chapters.

Chapter VI

While Tom appreciates Sophia's beauty and abilities, he has not fallen in love with her. The narrator speculates that this may stem from idiocy, or from bad taste, but the truth is that Tom is in love with another woman. The narrator imagines that the reader will be indignant that he has heard nothing of this girl, who is in fact the second eldest of the five children of Black George. Molly Seagrim, one of the country's best-looking girls, has transfixed Tom's attentions to the point where his inclinations are to try and force himself upon her. Tom's morals, however, prevent him from doing so.

Molly's beauty is of a rough, unfeminine hue, and her personality is not particularly feminine either—we learn that "Jones had more Regard for her Virtue than she herself." Tom tries to stay away so that Molly will keep her chastity, but she is insistent and eventually has her way. Tom convinces himself, however, that he seduced Molly. Tom is the kind of hero who cannot receive without returning, in love, and he has therefore not returned Sophia's affections because he cannot bear to leave Molly in poverty. Nor does Tom wish to deceive Sophia as long as he is still attached to Molly.

Chapter VII

Mrs. Seagrim is the first to notice that Molly is pregnant and she tries to hide it from the neighbors by dressing her daughter in Sophia's gown. The following Sunday, Molly arrives at church looking extremely glamorous in this gown and some adornments from Tom. The other women do not recognize Molly at first, but when they do, they sneer at her.