Literature Study GuidesTom JonesBook 11 Chapters 6 10 Summary

Tom Jones | Study Guide

Henry Fielding

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Tom Jones | Book 11, Chapters 6–10 : Containing about three Days. | Summary

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Summary

Book 11, Chapter 6

The landlord now interrupts the women, bringing food, and addresses Sophia as if she were Jenny Cameron. He says she may give "some folks" the slip and get to London without being overtaken, and Sophia immediately thinks he knows about her father and begs him not betray her. When Honour comes in and says they are "undone" because the French have landed, the landlord disagrees, saying the French are their friends. Sophia asks Honour to find out what the landlord knows about her.

Book 11, Chapter 7

Mrs. Fitzpatrick picks up her story. She is much alone and writes to her Aunt Western but gets no answer. Her baby dies in this period, which adds to her sorrow. Finally a relation of Fitzpatrick visits and tells Mrs. Fitzpatrick that he keeps a mistress. When her husband gets home he tells her he has spent all her money and now wants her to sell her small remaining estate. She refuses, and he confines her to her room for about two weeks. When her husband is away she escapes and makes it this far.

Book 11, Chapter 8

Sophia now tells Mrs. Fitzpatrick her story but leaves out entirely any mention of Tom Jones. They are then interrupted by violent yelling coming from Mrs. Honour, who is outraged the landlord thinks Sophia is Jenny Cameron, "that nasty, stinking whore ... that runs around the country with the Pretender." Sophia is amused and relieved. A gentleman is then announced, a noble peer and friend of Mrs. Fitzpatrick who has an estate nearby her husband and who helped her escape. He is surprised she is not at Bath, but she explains her husband is not far behind her and she is now headed to London with her cousin, who is also escaping her own "tyrant." He offers to take them both in his coach.

Book 11, Chapter 9

The women and their maids prepare to leave, and Sophia realizes she is missing a £100 note, the only money she has, which she may have lost when she fell off her horse just before meeting her cousin on the road. The ride to London is uneventful and takes two days.

Book 11, Chapter 10

When they arrive in London Mrs. Fitzpatrick gets her own lodgings, although Sophia realizes the peer is her "vice-husband" and she prefers not to share lodgings. Sophia immediately goes to her relation, Lady Bellaston.

Analysis

Jenny Cameron was a real woman, but not the young mistress of Charles Stuart—a mythical character created by the English. Jenny was said to travel with the Young Pretender to England when he attempted an invasion to retake the throne. Fielding uses this as an occasion for more comedy and mistaken identity. When the women arrive at the inn, the landlord attributes some romance to them and decides Sophia is this mysterious woman. During the time of the Stuart incursion there was hope the French would arrive with troops on English shores, but that never happened. Still false rumors circulated. Mrs. Honour is a patriot, standing with the Hanover king, George I, while the landlord temporarily takes the Catholic side in solidarity with Sophia, whom he thinks is Jenny. Meanwhile Sophia fears the landlord has seen her father and that he's on her trail. When Honour gets to the bottom of the mystery in Book 11, Chapter 8 she has a fit because any dishonor associated with her mistress reflects on herself, and she does not want to be associated with a "whore" and a traitor. Once again the narrator shows how so much of what people believe are lies and half-truths. Also he points out that so much of what people believe is convenient to their own estimations of themselves and others, their agendas, and their self-serving greed. In this Tom and Sophia stand out on a separate, nearly incomprehensible level, much as Romeo and Juliet do among the other characters of Shakespeare's play.

Harriet Fitzpatrick continues to suffer for her rash decision to marry a dishonorable man after her baby dies and she writes to Mrs. Western. The older woman cannot forgive her, however, and displays her vindictiveness and heartlessness by not answering her letter.

In the middle of Mrs. Fitzpatrick's story a peer (a nobleman) from Ireland appears and is surprised to see his friend at the inn because he expected her to be in Bath. As it turns out, they were supposed to meet in that town—information Sophia gleans from the peer while they ride to London. Like Richardson's Clarissa, Harriet had been imprisoned in her room by a tyrannical man. Fielding was not unsympathetic to the limited choices of women, and the narrator says: "Mrs. Fitzpatrick wisely considered that the virtue of a young lady is, in the world, in the same situation with a poor hare, which is certain, whenever it ventures abroad, to meet its enemies." Thus Harriet exchanges the protection of her husband for the protection of the peer, which does not come without strings. Sophia clearly reads her cousin's predicament and understands she would rather not lodge with her in London so that she can receive her lover.

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