Literature Study GuidesTom JonesBook 14 Chapters 6 10 Summary

Tom Jones | Study Guide

Henry Fielding

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Tom Jones | Book 14, Chapters 6–10 : Containing two Days. | Summary

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Summary

Book 14, Chapter 6

Late morning Tom awakens to another commotion. Mrs. Miller is beside herself because Nightingale has broken off his relationship with Nancy. He has sent her a letter explaining his father's insistence he marry "a young lady of fortune." He mentions Nancy is pregnant and says he will provide for the child. Nancy has tried to kill herself and is threatening to try again. Jones volunteers to speak to his friend Jack.

Book 14, Chapter 7

Tom finds Nightingale to be sad at his new lodgings and scolds him for leaving a family "in misery and ruin." Tom appeals to Jack's sense of honor after he tries to wiggle out of his obligation, and Nightingale admits he loves Nancy and wants to be with her. If his father can be convinced, he is ready to do right by Nancy. Jones thus asks for and is granted permission to speak to his friend's father, but Jack suggests he tell the father they are already married.

Book 14, Chapter 8

Tom arrives at Mr. Nightingale's and introduces himself as Jack's friend. He begins listing the sterling qualities of Nancy, although old Nightingale thinks he is talking about the rich girl, Miss Harris. Jones then announces his friend is married to Miss Nancy Miller. Old Nightingale's brother is also on hand and has been against the match with Miss Harris, who is neither attractive, good-natured, nor intelligent. He says parents should not expect to choose a marriage partner for their children, although his nephew should not have married without his father's advice. Jones now brings the uncle, who is a second father to young Nightingale, to Mrs. Miller's house.

Book 14, Chapter 9

Uncle Nightingale knows the Millers, and he congratulates Nancy. Mrs. Miller takes Jones aside and thanks him profusely for his intervention, telling him the couple will marry in the morning. After Jack has drunk quite a bit, he confesses to his uncle he is not yet married. Suddenly the uncle claims the match is foolish and asks Jack to come back home with him so he can convince him not to go through with the marriage.

Book 14, Chapter 10

After the dinner party at the Millers, uncle and nephew go back to the uncle's lodgings. While Jones is thinking over the behavior of the Nightingales, he gets some bad news about Sophia from Mrs. Honour.

Analysis

Not surprisingly the relationship between Jack Nightingale and Nancy Miller has ended in a pregnancy. Jack tells Tom in Book 14, Chapter 7 she could have saved her situation by keeping quiet about her pregnancy and then married someone else so she didn't tarnish her reputation, thus recommending lying, hypocrisy, and subterfuge with a subsequent lover. But Tom presses him, saying, "You have so entirely gained her affections, that it is the loss of you, and not of her reputation, which afflicts her, and will end in the destruction of her and her family." Luckily Tom has something to work with because Nightingale truly does care for Nancy and is merely spouting the hypocritical excuses that men of his time generally gave for leaving a girl in ruin because he has to answer to his father.

At first it seems as if Uncle Nightingale will be an ally in Nightingale's affair of the heart. Uncle Nightingale doesn't like the girl his brother has picked for Jack, but he says he believes a child should make their own choice of marital partner after consulting the parent. When he learns in Book 14, Chapter 9 that Jack is not yet married to Nancy, he immediately tries to interfere by dragging him away, thus doing the exact thing he has faulted his brother for. His objection to the marriage is the same as his brother's: it brings no money to the groom. Nightingale's dilemma parallels Jones's because Sophia's father is also against a match between her and Tom based on the fact that he is a pauper and Blifil is Mr. Allworthy's heir. Thus Fielding demonstrates how some parents care only about enriching their children through marriage and never give a thought to love, happiness, or compatibility.

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