Literature Study GuidesTom JonesBook 12 Chapters 1 5 Summary

Tom Jones | Study Guide

Henry Fielding

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Tom Jones | Book 12, Chapters 1–5 : Containing the Same Individual Time with the Former. | Summary



Book 12, Chapter 1

The author discusses on the meaning of plagiarism, addressing the "learned reader" who may have noticed he has been translating passages from authors without quoting or mentioning the original text. He justifies his actions, saying "the ancients may be considered as a rich common, where every person who hath the smallest tenement in Parnassus hath a free right to fatten his muse." On the other hand he is scrupulous about crediting modern authors with their own lines.

Book 12, Chapter 2

Squire Western, after leaving the inn in a fury, hears the sound of a pack of hounds at a short distance away. He decides to abandon his chase for his daughter and join this hunt. He is readily received by his fellow sportsman, who later invites him to dinner. Western gets very drunk after dinner and is carried off to bed. The next morning he decides to return home with Parson Supple.

Book 12, Chapter 3

This chapter picks up Tom's story, who rages against Partridge, grabbing him and shaking him violently. After he calms down and apologizes Tom is even more resolved to join the army now that he has lost Sophia, and Partridge again tries to keep him from this course of action.

Book 12, Chapter 4

The travelers are approached by a beggar, and Tom gives him a shilling. He then asks them to buy a pocketbook (a small book with a billfold in it) he found in his travels, and Tom is in ecstasy when he opens it because Sophia's name is written on the first page; he also finds her banknote for £100 inside and gives the man a guinea.

Book 12, Chapter 5

Jones begins walking quickly, thinking about Sophia, and Partridge has a hard time keeping up. After a while they hear the music of a puppet show and then arrive at an alehouse. Tom stops since he is no longer sure of which way he wants to go. The travelers have dinner and watch the puppet show, which is not to Tom's liking since it has a serious theme and is not comic, as is usual with a Punch and Joan (Punch and Judy) show.


Fielding does not always credit his classical sources because, as he explains in Book 12, Chapter 1, he is showing respect for the discernment of the readers who would know his references without the author's help. Furthermore he takes the view that, since these masters of the written word are long dead, they cannot be hurt by his liberal borrowing and puts them, in 18th-century language, in the public domain. However, he believes it is theft to not properly attribute a contemporary author, and he has in mind some lines from a poem by Alexander Pope, a contemporary of Fielding, in which a playwright used Pope's lines with permission but without attribution.

Sophia is for the moment clear of her father, who shows where his heart is in Book 12, Chapter 2 when he abandons his search for his daughter, takes up a hunt instead, and then decides to go back home. Tom's story is then picked up in Book 12, Chapter 3, in which he lays hands on Partridge, saying, "Fool—blockhead! Thou hast undone me, and I will tear thy soul from thy body." However, he gives him only a good shake. Tom turns his thoughts back to the army, but fate intervenes when he finds the pocketbook, which gives him a good excuse to follow Sophia to London.

Fielding uses the opportunity of the Punch and Judy show in Book 12, Chapter 5 to make fun of people who disparage comedy, like the solemn puppet master who has replaced Punch and Joan with more serious fare. He doesn't see why his puppet show can't be used to teach people moral lessons, but to do so his story must be serious and not include "low stuff." This scene contains situational irony, which is when something is contrary to what is expected, since the author of Tom Jones is using comedy to teach morality to his audience.

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