Literature Study GuidesTom JonesBook 4 Chapters 11 14 Summary

Tom Jones | Study Guide

Henry Fielding

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Tom Jones | Book 4, Chapters 11–14 : Containing the Time of a Year. | Summary

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Summary

Book 4, Chapter 11

Tom arrives home just as Molly is being hauled away to jail for her illegitimate pregnancy and for not naming the father, and the narrator notes Mr. Allworthy may have "exceeded his authority a little in this instance." Tom confesses to being the father and throws himself on Mr. Allworthy's mercy, asking him to allow Molly to return home. Mr. Allworthy releases her and delivers a stern lecture to Tom. When Mr. Allworthy discusses the matter with the tutors, Square seeks to damage Tom by planting the idea in Mr. Allworthy's mind that the young man's loyalty to the gamekeeper was merely an occasion to corrupt his daughter. Although this is untrue it leaves "the first bad impression" of Jones in the mind of Mr. Allworthy.

Book 4, Chapter 12

Sophia's maid Mrs. Honour brings her the tale of Jones, Molly, and Mr. Allworthy in the morning, but she faults Molly for being "a forward kind of body" who has ruined "a pretty young gentleman." Sophia cuts her maid off, asking her to leave. Now admitting to herself that she has tender feelings toward Tom, she puts them out of her mind. Nonetheless, the feelings keep returning, especially when she sees him.

Book 4, Chapter 13

Mr. Western craves the company of his daughter so much he insists she ride with him while he hunts. On the second day of the hunt Sophia's horse becomes unruly, and Tom, who is not far away, sees the danger and gallops to help her, saving her from possible harm and breaking his arm. Sophia is impressed with Tom's bravery. She also makes a strong impression on Tom, whom the narrator says had become "sensible of the irresistible power of her charms."

Book 4, Chapter 14

The surgeon orders Jones to bed in Western's house. Honour tells her mistress she (Sophia) is in love with Tom, which she denies. Honour mentions that in the previous week she saw Tom pick up Sophia's muff, which was on the chair, and kiss it passionately. Sophia is clearly affected, especially after her maid says Tom has called himself a villain who can only look upon Sophia as his goddess to worship from afar.

Analysis

Mr. Allworthy's punishment of Molly in Book 4, Chapter 11 seems excessive, especially when compared with his treatment of Jenny—whom he excused from prison and even helped to establish in a new life. Perhaps his harshness with Molly is partially because she beat the fiddler, but perhaps it also is related to the fact that she is less genteel than Jenny Jones. The narrator remarks that the constable was "conducting [Molly] to that house where the inferior sort of people may learn one good lesson, viz., respect and deference to their superiors; since it must show them the wide distinction Fortune intends between those persons who are to be corrected for their faults, and those who are not." The narrator notes, with the knowledge of law possessed by Fielding the barrister, the situational irony (what happens is contrary to what is expected) that magistrates daily commit arbitrary acts and do not have the excuse of Mr. Allworthy, and that they do so "in the court of conscience."

When Tom intervenes on Molly's behalf Mr. Allworthy lets her go home, but he is deeply troubled by Tom's promiscuity, and the narrator tells us he delivers to Tom the same lecture he gave to Jenny Jones, as he finds sexual indiscretions in either sex to be a moral failing of equal weight. Thus Mr. Allworthy—unlike Western—does not have a double standard for men and women. Mr. Allworthy is disappointed in Tom but still believes in his goodness. However, the tutor Square gives a different meaning about the many acts of charity that Tom has done for Black George, and says Jones "supported the father, in order to corrupt the daughter, and preserved the family from starving, to bring one of them to shame and ruin." Thus Square lays the foundation for the gullible Mr. Allworthy to turn against his foster son.

Sophia's muff is introduced in Book 4, Chapter 14 and becomes a symbol for Sophia's love for Tom once he kisses it. After Tom rescues Sophia in Book 4, Chapter 13 she admits her feelings for him, and Tom can no longer deny his feelings either, although he finds himself in a terrible quandary. Mrs. Honour, a single woman of an older age, is introduced in Book 4, Chapter 12. Her name is ironic (opposite from its literal meaning) since there is nothing honorable about her, and much later in the novel the reader learns her last name is Blackmore. She initially plays a role in egging on the relationship between the young people, and though she likes Sophia she has no real loyalty or love for her.

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