Literature Study GuidesTom JonesBook 10 Chapters 1 5 Summary

Tom Jones | Study Guide

Henry Fielding

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Tom Jones | Book 10, Chapters 1–5 : In Which the History Goes Forward About Twelve Hours. | Summary

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Summary

Book 10, Chapter 1

The author addresses the reader as a friend and warns not to condemn a character as bad just because he or she is flawed. The author asserts that characters with flaws are actually more instructive than those without them.

Book 10, Chapter 2

Returning to the story at midnight, the narrator notes everyone is in bed except Susan the chambermaid. In rushes an Irish gentleman looking for a lady. Susan immediately assumes he is looking for Mrs. Waters and sends him up to her chamber, where he bursts in without knocking. After he encounters Tom at the door, the two come to blows; then Mrs. Waters begins screaming. An Irishman next door, Mr. Maclachlan, comes to Mrs. Waters's rescue and recognizes the intruder as his friend, Mr. Fitzpatrick. The landlady by this time is also awake, and Tom recovers his wits enough to say he also came on the scene when he heard Mrs. Waters's calls for help.

Book 10, Chapter 3

Fitzpatrick is a penniless gentleman who has gone through almost all his wife's fortune, and he has been trying to get what's left. Because of his cruelty and jealousy, she has run away from him. Two more riders now show up, a lady richly attired and her companion. The lady asks to warm herself by the fire, and the landlady convinces her to take a room for the rest of the night.

Book 10, Chapter 4

The lady's maid, calling herself Mrs. Abigail, returns to the kitchen to get some food. Partridge makes her acquaintance and happens to tell her "the young Squire Mr. Allworthy" is in the house. When Mrs. Abigail, who knows Mr. Allworthy, contradicts that Mr. Allworthy has a son, it comes to light that the man in question is Tom Jones. Abigail quickly finishes her dinner and returns to her mistress.

Book 10, Chapter 5

These two new guests are Sophia Western and Mrs. Honour. When Sophia hears Tom is in the house, she sends Honour to get someone to wake him. Partridge refuses to do so and says point blank he is "in bed with a wench." Sophia has the chambermaid Susan check Tom's bed, which is empty. Susan also repeats some lies Partridge has been telling—that Sophia is "dying of love" for Tom and he is going to war to get away from her. After Susan leaves, Sophia says Tom "is not only a villain, but a low despicable wretch." She is most angry that he has exposed her name to ridicule. Sophia's muff has been her constant companion since she left home, but she now asks Susan to put it in Tom's empty bed. She and Honour settle the bill and resume their journey.

Analysis

The plot thickens when Tom, in bed with Mrs. Waters, is interrupted by a jealous Irishman looking for his wife. Tom is not a very good liar, but he finally catches up, saying he too is in Mrs. Waters's room because he heard her yelling and wanted to save her. The fact that the landlady believes this story just goes to show how much people are affected by their prejudices and predispositions in what they believe about others. The landlady has decided Tom and Mrs. Waters are respectable, so she falls for the ruse. Susan, on the other hand, is not so naïve. When Sophia shows up with Honour and learns Tom is at the inn, things go from bad to worse. Partridge commits the first of many follies, first by spilling the beans to Honour that Tom is with a woman, and second, by making up the story that Tom is running away from Sophia, whose love he does not return.

The thing that bothers Sophia the most is Tom has shown, based on the evidence, terrible disrespect of her and her love for him and has dragged her name through the gutter. Once again, appearance and reality are diametrically opposed since Tom has done no such thing. It is easy to understand why this bothers Sophia more than anything. But how Sophia lets Tom off the hook so easily for sleeping with other women is a little puzzling. She knows, for example, he slept with Molly one last time, and both the narrator and Sophia gloss over that fact. Now he has slept with a second woman, and his act seems too easily eclipsed by what she sees as his disrespect of her good name. With regard to Sophia's character, the text contains dramatic irony and exaggerations and distortions of reality in a way designed to permit the reader to discern realities the character is unable to perceive. Perhaps at play here, despite Fielding's wish to level the moral playing field when it comes to the indiscretions of men and women, is a double standard. As a result the woman in question accepts, on some level, that "boys will be boys" and engage in behaviors that are unthinkable for ladies of quality. Sophia punishes Tom by leaving her muff behind, a signal she perhaps will also leave behind the love it represents given he has proven he is not worthy of it.

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