HomeLiterature Study GuidesTom JonesBook 16 Chapters 6 10 Summary

Tom Jones | Study Guide

Henry Fielding

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Tom Jones | Book 16, Chapters 6–10 : Containing the Space of Five Days. | Summary

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Summary

Book 16, Chapter 6

Blifil is as eager as ever to marry Sophia. Besides greed, he is driven by hatred, an emotion he intends to satisfy once he has Sophia. Mr. Allworthy is put off by the idea of Blifil and Sophia marrying once Sophia runs away, but his nephew pretends to be madly in love. Blifil also blames Jones for what has happened and says he must save Sophia from Jones. Mr. Allworthy reluctantly goes along with his nephew, and they arrive in London.

Book 16, Chapter 7

Mrs. Western is lecturing her niece on "prudence" and "matrimonial politics" when Western barges in with Blifil, and naturally he is scolded by his sister. Mrs. Western gives Sophia permission to leave and then tells her brother she will receive Blifil in good time, according to the rules of decorum. Blifil is not only disappointed but also suspicious that something further has happened to interfere with his marriage.

Book 16, Chapter 8

Lady Bellaston wants to revenge herself on Tom and suggests Fellamar have him involuntarily drafted into the navy ("pressed into service"; see Context). Fellamar commissions Captain Egglane to do the job. Bellaston then visits Mrs. Western to tell her Fellamar has agreed to settle his fortune in any way the family would like. Soon Mrs. Western betrays Blifil and agrees with Fellamar. Lady Bellaston also provides Mrs. Western with a letter of proposal Tom Jones sent to her.

Book 16, Chapter 9

After Mrs. Fitzpatrick is rejected by both her Aunt and Uncle Western, she desires revenge. For this reason she invites Tom Jones to her house to suggest he could get to Sophia by courting her aunt, a strategy that worked for Fitzpatrick. Jones hates this idea. When Tom expresses his heartfelt feelings for Sophia, she feels a great attraction to him and begins flirting. Tom politely leaves and resolves not to make any return visits to her.

Book 16, Chapter 10

After being informed of his wife's whereabouts by Mrs. Western, Mr. Fitzpatrick travels to her lodgings and happens to see Tom leaving. Fitzpatrick remembers Jones from Upton and immediately jumps to the conclusion he is his wife's lover. He hits him over the head and then draws his sword. Although Tom has no formal training, he stabs Fitzpatrick. A gang of men now rush in and grab him. They have been hired to put Tom on a ship, but now they carry him to the magistrate, who sends him to prison. He gets a visit from Partridge the next day, who tells him Fitzpatrick is dead, and a letter from Sophia saying she has seen his proposal and wants his name never to be mentioned to her again.

Analysis

Mr. Allworthy by now should have enough information to know that Sophia is being forced into a marriage with his nephew, and he shows a lack of moral courage in not standing up to him. Even the narrator steps in to chide him by saying, "Thus did the affection of Allworthy for his nephew betray the superior understanding to be triumphed over by the inferior; and thus is the prudence of the best heads often defeated by the tenderness of the best of hearts." Mr. Allworthy falls short of that important virtue. He knows what the right course of action is, but he does not have the grit to carry it out.

Meanwhile Mrs. Western continues to lecture Sophia about counterfeit prudence in Book 16, Chapter 7, and Blifil clearly sees he is in danger for the first time when Mrs. Western shows disdain for him when she asks him and her brother to leave after they barge in. Given Mrs. Western's pretensions and materialism, she sees Lord Fellamar as a much better match for her niece because of his rank and money. And since husbands are merely resources by which a young woman makes her way in the world, she sees no problem in substituting Fellamar for Blifil.

Lady Bellaston wants revenge on Tom, which is why in Book 16, Chapter 8 she proposes the plan to have him impressed. She, of course, is angry Tom forced her hand so that she had to break it off with him and knows he has actually rejected her. For his part Fellamar still has high hopes Sophia will marry him, and he is anxious to get his rival out of the way. Moreover, he has convinced himself he'd be doing Sophia a service. But Bellaston's revenge on Tom would not be complete without her giving his letter to Mrs. Western, which she feels sure will drive a wedge between Sophia and Tom for good. If she can't have Tom, she doesn't want Sophia to have him either. Additionally she has hostility against Sophia because, in her mind, she is her rival for Tom's affections.

Revenge is also in the heart of the Fitzpatricks and is the motive for Mrs. Fitzpatrick to suggest that Tom try to get to Sophia through Mrs. Western and the reason Mr. Fitzpatrick goes after Tom—because he thinks he has slept with his wife. All of these revenge plots ultimately fail, but Tom Jones does end up in jail as a result of the work of several people who wish to do him harm.

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