Literature Study GuidesTom JonesBook 12 Chapters 6 10 Summary

Tom Jones | Study Guide

Henry Fielding

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Tom Jones | Book 12, Chapters 6–10 : Containing the Same Individual Time with the Former. | Summary

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Summary

Book 12, Chapter 6

Partridge prevails on Tom to stay overnight at the inn since they are not sure in which direction Sophia has gone and might get further information in the morning. Tom then goes to bed with Sophia's pocketbook and muff, while Partridge proceeds to get drunk.

Book 12, Chapter 7

Partridge tells the people in the kitchen his master is rich and crazy. The exciseman (taxman) says he should be taken by force and sent home to his relatives—a plan that is music to Partridge's ears. However, the landlady steps in and tells them there is nothing wrong with Tom and she will not have anyone lay hands on him.

Book 12, Chapter 8

Jones is awakened by the puppet master beating the actor who played Merry Andrew. The man is beating him for having sex with the servant girl, but the actor says she was willing while the puppet master was thinking about ravishing a fine lady in a riding habit the previous day. Tom now takes the actor aside and learns it is his Sophia who passed by. The man shows him the exact place, and Tom now knows in which direction to go. Partridge also learns a post boy (a guide) who attended Sophia's party is at the inn and can provide information, and Tom takes him aside in private.

The narrator says it is unfair Tom has been shunned by Sophia for "the freedoms which she thought ... he had taken with her name and character." But while Tom is being discreet, Partridge once again is spreading gossip in the kitchen by openly questioning the other guide who relays everything that happened when Sophia and her cousin Mrs. Fitzpatrick stopped at the inn.

Book 12, Chapter 9

Tom rents horses so he can travel more quickly and has the boy guide take him to the last inn where Sophia stayed before traveling by coach to London. Partridge is now happy they are pursuing Sophia instead of war. Jones encounters Mr. Dowling again and shares a bottle of wine with him while the boy is resting the horses.

Book 12, Chapter 10

The lawyer drinks to Mr. Allworthy and Blifil, but Tom calls the latter a scoundrel. Dowling met Blifil only once, when he told him about the death of his mother. Tom explains that Blifil has through "a long train of wicked artifice" contrived his ruin and then tells how he came to be a ward of Mr. Allworthy. Tom says he has never coveted Mr. Allworthy's fortune, but Blifil perhaps thought he did and for this reason plotted against him.

Analysis

Although Partridge has been scolded by Tom for gossiping, Tom doesn't know the half of the gossip his companion spreads in the kitchens of the inns where they stop. Although chasing Sophia is better than going to war, Partridge is still fixated on the idea of getting Tom back home. Luckily for Tom women often step up to help or shield him, and in Book 12, Chapter 7 the landlady does so, recognizing Tom is only in love; she tells them to keep their hands off him. Partridge is shown, in this conversation with the people around the fire in the kitchen, to be not only a bumbler but also a scoundrel. He has little care for Tom and simply wants to use him to reclaim Mr. Allworthy as a benefactor.

In Book 12, Chapter 8 the puppet master is shown to be another hypocrite who pretends to be moral while he thinks about ravishing a young woman (Sophia) who passes by on horseback. Once again, by fortunate coincidence Tom gains information about Sophia, through the post boy who led her party before they left again in a coach. Post boys were boys or men on horseback who guided coaches or people on horseback. People who traveled through the country did not have maps or other technology to guide them, so they relied on experts who knew the path of travel, although sometimes they are less than expert—for example, the guide who loses his way to Bristol at the beginning of Tom's journey.

When Tom runs into Mr. Dowling in Book 12, Chapter 9, he tells him his whole history, which is not a good idea, and the narrator mentions that in "the compliance of his disposition" he is like Sophia, but he does not resemble her in prudence. Telling a stranger your business is never a good idea, and later in the novel Dowling becomes employed by Blifil. Meanwhile Tom says he is a scoundrel who has been working against him. He doesn't know the whole truth yet, but after speaking with Partridge and perhaps reflecting on certain incidents, he notes that "very lately only ... have [I] discovered half the villainy which is in him." On the other hand the prudent Sophia has told her cousin Mrs. Fitzpatrick, in Book 11, Chapter 8, that she is running away from her father and an undesirable marriage, but she wisely never says a word about Tom Jones, since she understands that a person's words can return to her in other people's mouths to do them harm.

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