Literature Study GuidesTom JonesBook 4 Chapters 6 10 Summary

Tom Jones | Study Guide

Henry Fielding

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Tom Jones | Book 4, Chapters 6–10 : Containing the Time of a Year. | Summary



Book 4, Chapter 6

Tom is not tempted by Sophia's wealth since he is not a greedy fortune hunter. He is aware of her beauty, but "his heart was in the possession of another woman," namely Molly Seagrim, Black George's second daughter. Molly is "tall and robust" as well as "bold and forward." She perceives Tom is attracted to her, although he keeps his distance, and she "triumphed over ... [his] virtuous resolutions." He feels the girl's happiness depends on him now that they have been intimate, and obligation and attraction merge into a passion that can be called love, the narrator says. He will not abandon Molly, and for this reason he does not encourage Sophia.

Book 4, Chapter 7

Sophia sends the Seagrim family some of her finery, and Molly wears Sophia's baggy gown to church to cover up her now visible pregnancy. Other women begin loudly criticizing her for putting on airs, and Mr. Allworthy uses his authority to quiet them.

Book 4, Chapter 8

Sophia spies Molly at church in her old gown and calls George to tell him her lady's maid is going away and she would like to try Molly in service. Sophia is thinking only to do a good deed, but she doesn't know Molly is pregnant. George tries to discourage Sophia and goes to his wife for advice, finding the house in a state of disarray following a fight in the churchyard. The narrator once again takes up a mock epic style to describe a physical battle that ensues between Molly and a crowd of hecklers. When Square, Blifil, and Tom pass by and see people fighting, Tom immediately jumps into the fray and rescues Molly.

Book 4, Chapter 9

The action returns once again to the Seagrim home. Molly's sisters are scolding her for wearing Sophia's gown to church and creating a ruckus, and her mother chastises her for being the first in the family "that ever was a whore," predicting she will have a bastard by a gentleman without the benefit of marriage. It is decided Mrs. Seagrim will visit Sophia and offer her oldest daughter as a maid in lieu of Molly.

Book 4, Chapter 10

Tom dines with Mr. Western, Sophia, and Mr. Supple, the pastor of the parish. Mr. Supple describes the fight at the church and the subsequent battle in the churchyard, saying Molly had to appear before Mr. Allworthy because of physical harm she caused a traveling fiddler. He also mentions she is very pregnant. Tom asks to be excused and leaves abruptly, and Squire Western puts two and two together and thinks that Tom is the father of the bastard. When the parson expresses his disapproval, Western makes light of it and says women like men better for "getting a bastard." He asks for Sophia's opinion on the matter and she excuses herself, which her father attributes to modesty rather than a more personal upset.


While Tom has committed a sexual indiscretion, and a sin according to the laws of the church, he maintains his integrity by ignoring Sophia's charms since he feels bound to another woman, George's daughter Molly. Fielding turns the tables on convention and stereotype for comic effect, presenting the reader with a male hero who, instead of seducing one or more innocent women is himself seduced by them. In the novel the hero never makes the first move. Fielding earlier on had satirized the other great novelist of the 18th century, Samuel Richardson, whose novel Pamela became a sensation. Pamela is the story of a servant girl who eventually gains the heart of a rich master by refusing to sleep with him. Fielding believed the story set a bad moral example that turned sex into a commodity, and he found the heroine to be calculating and manipulative. In response he wrote a parody called Shamela and then followed that up with Joseph Andrews, his first serious novel that takes as its subject male virtue. Richardson followed Pamela with Clarissa, his own masterpiece, in which a woman is tormented by an evil seducer. While writing Tom Jones Fielding quite possibly saw parts of Clarissa, which he greatly admired, before it was published in 1748, a year before Tom Jones. In any case the narrator notes in Book 4, Chapter 6 that "Molly so well played her part, that Jones attributed the conquest entirely to himself, and considered the young woman as one who had yielded to the violent attacks of his passion."

The pettiness and envy of Molly's neighbors is somewhat shocking in the scene outside the church and later in the churchyard in Book 4, Chapters 7 and 8, as a mob of people begin throwing things at Molly because she is pregnant and has the audacity to show up in church in a nice dress. While it is comic on the one hand it also shows a lack of kindness and mercy on the part of Molly's neighbors. Almost all the characters in the novel are depicted, in varying degrees, as lacking in compassion and even basic morality. Molly herself is depicted as an unpleasant character—a liar and a seducer who does her best to beat as many of the people in the crowd as possible. Fielding also plays against stereotype by depicting Molly as physically strong and violent as well as sexually predatory.

Sophia is shocked and disappointed to hear from her father in Book 4, Chapter 10 that Tom is the likely father of Molly's child, and Squire Western shows his continued stupidity and lack of sensibility when he asks her if she agrees that women like a man better for sexual promiscuity. He is completely blind when it comes to his daughter and, although he loves her he doesn't treat her as a person. Moreover, he has no understanding of women and as the novel proceeds even exhibits dislike and hatred for women.

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