Literature Study GuidesTom JonesBook 15 Chapters 1 4 Summary

Tom Jones | Study Guide

Henry Fielding

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Tom Jones | Book 15, Chapters 1–4 : In which the History Advances about Two Days. | Summary



Book 15, Chapter 1

The author begs to differ "that virtue is the certain road to happiness, and vice to misery." As Tom is virtuously working "to preserve his fellow-creatures from destruction," others are working behind his back to "make him completely miserable," which is not an uncommon phenomenon in the real world.

Book 15, Chapter 2

Lady Bellaston conceives a plan to get rid of Sophia. Lord Fellamar, who frequents Bellaston's house, has fallen in love with her and wants Bellaston to propose a match to her father. She informs him he has a rival in the form of "a beggar, a bastard, a foundling." She invites him to dinner with a few others so she can prove to him Sophia has this dangerous passion.

Book 15, Chapter 3

Lady Bellaston belongs to a society club in which the members are charged with telling a fib at least once a day. She applies to one of the members, Tom Edwards, to tell a fib for her when her guests are playing cards the next day. Thus he casually mentions he saw a man from the country named Tom Jones dead in a coffeehouse. Sophia faints, and Lord Fellamar is convinced. Bellaston later proposes a plan to Fellamar for winning Sophia. She will get everyone out of the house the next evening and have Fellamar call on Sophia and rape her and then propose marriage—which Sophia and her relatives will agree to after she has been humiliated in this way.

Book 15, Chapter 4

Upon reflection Lord Fellamar has serious problems with the rape plan, which he shares with Lady Bellaston in the morning. She proceeds to provide false and distorted examples of classical instances in which females were ravished; she appeals to his manly pride until he finally agrees.


The narrator seems to turn cynical in Book 15 when he says virtue is not necessarily rewarded with happiness and vice with misery. However, his sentiment echoes the thoughts of the Man of the Hill, and the readers might remember that people ought not to be virtuous to be happy or to get a reward but should simply do what is right according to their faith and conscience.

Lady Bellaston wants Sophia out of the way, and she has no time to wait until Sophia decides to go back to the country and marry Blifil. In addition she has disdain for the Western cousins and would prefer to see Sophia married to someone she chooses for her. Lord Fellamar is a very rich gentleman who is smitten with her and can hardly believe Sophia would choose a beggarly bastard over him, which is why Bellaston sets up the ruse in Book 15, Chapter 3 in which she proves to Fellamar that Sophia is in danger of running off with Tom Jones and ruining herself.

Lady Bellaston now proposed a diabolical plan to force Sophia to marry Fellamar: she convinces him to rape her so she will have no choice but to marry him. This may sound absurd to a modern reader, but in Fielding's day and much after it this was a strategy unscrupulous men used to force women to marry them in the era when a woman's virginity was held at a premium and a girl would be ruined for life by a rape. In fact this is the very ploy Lovelace uses in Richardson's Clarissa to convince her to finally marry him (which she does not). Of course this stratagem is the height of iniquity, and if Fellamar had any real love for Sophia—and was not mostly lusting after her—he could have never agreed to such a plan. Furthermore, if he had any moral scruples he would not force a woman to have sex with him under any circumstances. This is also the opinion of the narrator.

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