Literature Study GuidesTom JonesBook 13 Chapters 9 12 Summary

Tom Jones | Study Guide

Henry Fielding

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Tom Jones | Book 13, Chapters 9–12 : Containing the Space of Twelve Days. | Summary

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Summary

Book 13, Chapter 9

That evening Tom Jones meets Bellaston for another round of amorous shenanigans. After repeated "interviews" with Bellaston, Jones is no closer to seeing Sophia. He is now obligated to Lady Bellaston, who makes Tom "the best dressed man about town" and raises him to "a state of affluence beyond what he had ever known." He feels obliged to continue granting her his sexual favors.

One evening he gets a note from Bellaston canceling their rendezvous at the usual meeting place. Then he gets a second note telling him to meet her at home. The acquaintance who owns the house no longer wants to be party to Bellaston's affairs. Bellaston does some quick thinking and sends Sophia and the two maids to a play so she can receive Tom in private.

Book 13, Chapter 10

Just before Tom meets Bellaston, he runs into Mrs. Miller's impoverished cousin, Mr. Anderson, who is the highwayman Tom met on the road. Mrs. Miller introduces her cousin to the benefactor who saved his family, and Tom graciously accepts his thanks without revealing their previous acquaintance.

Book 13, Chapter 11

Tom arrives at Bellaston's house early and runs into Sophia, who has left the play early. Tom gives Sophia her pocketbook and asks for her pardon. He tells her "she, into whose company I accidently fell ... was not an object of serious love." When she brings up his abuse of her name he is genuinely surprised, but then figures out it is Partridge's doing, and she believes his explanation. Once this hurdle is cleared they begin talking like lovers; she reminds him of her duty to her father, and he promises to renounce her. Bellaston now returns home and interrupts them. Jones and Bellaston pretend not to know each other, and Sophia pretends not to know Tom.

Book 13, Chapter 12

Sophia continues to pretend Tom is a stranger. Bellaston taunts her by saying she thought the gentleman was Tom Jones and reminds her of her promise not to marry without her father's consent. Sophia sticks to her story that she is indifferent to Mr. Jones, and the women separate. Sophia cannot sleep that night because she is troubled by having lied.

Analysis

Lady Bellaston had every intention of continuing to string Jones along and not tell him anything about Sophia. But her plan is foiled by serendipity in Book 13, Chapter 11, in which Tom and Sophia run into each other. Sophia readily forgives Tom once he tells her he was not disparaging her publicly, but nothing has changed with regard to their impasse (she won't marry someone against her father's will), so all they can do is moon over each other. Of course the last thing Tom wants is for Sophia to find out he is now sleeping with Bellaston. But that would be very inconvenient for the lady as well, so they mutually decide on the spot to pretend they have never seen each other. Lady Bellaston is well acquainted with Sophia's entire story; therefore, the last thing Sophia wants is for her relation to know she has just seen Tom Jones. Lady Bellaston can't resist taunting her, however, and because she is not a very good liar Bellaston easily trips her up so she slips and calls the gentleman who returned her pocketbook "Mr. Jones" in Book 13, Chapter 12. She probably realizes Bellaston is on to her, which is one reason she is shamed and embarrassed by her lie.

Bellaston has also ensnared Tom Jones. Because she keeps giving him money, he feels indebted to her. He has a strong sense of gratitude, and once he takes her first payment it is difficult to refuse subsequent gifts. To do so would be to insult the lady, which would offend his sense of gallantry. And realistically he needs money to live in London, so a ready cash flow is hard to turn down. Jones has now descended to the lowest level to which he falls in the novel—as a kept man, the paramour of Lady Bellaston.

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