Literature Study GuidesTom JonesBook 14 Chapters 1 5 Summary

Tom Jones | Study Guide

Henry Fielding

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Tom Jones | Book 14, Chapters 1–5 : Containing Two Days. | Summary

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Summary

Book 14, Chapter 1

The narrator complains English writers have failed to accurately portray the upper classes because they know nothing about them. He opines that the high life is dull and gives few opportunities for humor or entertainment, unlike the lower spheres. Lady Bellaston, however, is an exception, as she is an "intrepid character."

Book 14, Chapter 2

Not long after Tom gets home, Lady Bellaston arrives and accuses him of scheming behind her back. Just then Partridge comes up the stairs to tell her Mrs. Honour wishes to see him, and Jones hides Bellaston. Honour brings a letter from Sophia and also berates Bellaston for entertaining lovers at a place she rents. After she leaves Bellaston is in a rage and blames Jones for ruining her reputation. They decide he will visit the house openly since everyone will think he is coming for Sophia's sake.

Book 14, Chapter 3

Sophia's letter asks Tom not to visit because Lady Bellaston is suspicious. Tom is distraught but decides to pretend to be sick to avoid visiting. Jones now gets a visit from Mrs. Miller, who tells him to stop bringing women to his rooms. She also mentions his generosity to her cousin Mr. Anderson when he attempted to rob him as well as his connection to Mr. Allworthy. Tom is annoyed, saying he must be able to entertain whomever he likes in his rooms. When she leaves Tom takes Partridge to task for lying and then tells him to find new lodgings.

Book 14, Chapter 4

Nightingale enters Jones's rooms after Partridge leaves and teases him about his lady caller. Tom tells him he is leaving, and Nightingale has the same plans. Jones now mentions his serious flirtation with Nancy; he scolds his friend for breaking her heart and sneaking away. Nightingale says Tom is hardly an angel, and Tom admits to his fault but says he has not caused misery to any woman. Nightingale explains his father expects him to marry a rich heiress. The two men agree to lodge together.

Book 14, Chapter 5

Mrs. Miller invites Tom to tea because she wants them to part friends. She tells him how Mr. Allworthy set her up with the boarding house and an annuity after her husband died. She also says Mr. Allworthy held him in high regard and always spoke well of him. After Mrs. Miller reveals these confidences, Tom tells her his whole story but leaves out any mention of Sophia.

Analysis

In the first chapter of Book 14, Fielding is both patting himself on the back for doing such a good job portraying the intrepid Lady Bellaston and at the same time warning the reader that she is not meant to represent all the women of the upper class. She is certainly a rarity in English fiction in the 18th century. Lady Bellaston has a sexual appetite the equal of any man as well as a hearty appetite for villainy that can rival any such character in literature of the opposite sex. Of course Richardson's Lovelace comes to mind from the novel Clarissa, but Lovelace is more complex than Bellaston and thus less evil.

Lady Bellaston is most interested in continuing a sexual relationship with Tom Jones, and the best way to do so, now that she can no longer see him at her friend's house, is to have him over under cover of visiting Sophia. Of course she has no intention of stopping there and fully intends to get Sophia out of the way. Sophia realizes Lady Bellaston knows the identity of Tom Jones, so she tells him to stay away from the house, thinking Bellaston is against a match with Jones because he is a pauper.

Bellaston is naturally outraged when she overhears the servant Mrs. Honour berating her for her sexual promiscuity in Book 14, Chapter 2, and although she knows it is hardly Jones's fault she uses this as another bargaining chip to make Tom Jones feel indebted to her. Being the innocent that he is, it hasn't occurred to him that Lady Bellaston probably has had a string of lovers.

Tom's dalliance is juxtaposed with Jack Nightingale's when Jones scolds him in Book 14, Chapter 4 for running out on Nancy. So far Jones can claim he has not hurt any woman by sleeping with her given the checkered history of his sexual partners: Molly is unfaithful to him and seems able to easily replace him with Square or any other man; Mrs. Waters clearly understands they are having a very short fling; and Lady Bellaston is using him as a sexual commodity. Nancy, however, has higher expectations and has given herself to Jack with the idea that they will marry.

Partridge once again has been spreading Tom's business, which is how Mrs. Miller learns he is responsible not only for helping Mr. Anderson in the present but also for saving him from great harm on the road. Mrs. Miller will be able to do Tom a great service as well when she becomes the bridge between him and Mr. Allworthy, helping to bring them together again.

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