Literature Study GuidesTom JonesBook 5 Chapters 5 8 Summary

Tom Jones | Study Guide

Henry Fielding

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Tom Jones | Book 5, Chapters 5–8 : Containing a Portion of Time Somewhat Longer Than Half a Year. | Summary

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Summary

Book 5, Chapter 5

After Tom is allowed out of bed he visits Molly in her room above the stairs to propose a financial settlement in lieu of marriage. Molly bursts into tears at this news and begins to berate him. In her little garret is an improvised closet at the foot of the bed, partitioned with a rug. During this conversation the rug gets loose, revealing a man hiding—namely, the philosopher Square, with whom Molly has recently become intimate. Tom is astonished, but he laughs when the philosopher claims he has done nothing wrong since Molly is not innocent and sex is natural. Tom promises he will not expose Square and says he will continue to do what he can for her. After he leaves she is angry at Square but calms down when he gives her money.

Book 5, Chapter 6

Although Tom does not feel jealous of Molly, he feels uneasy that he has corrupted her because she now seems to be plunging herself into a life of vice. Her older sister Betty, however, disabuses him of that notion, saying that Will Barnes was her first lover and, in fact, the child might belong to him. In fact Will was a notorious rake who had first seduced Betty before taking up with Molly. Jones's heart is now "entirely evacuated, and Sophia took absolute possession of it." However, he remains tortured by his inability to court her because of the remaining obstacles. When the two inadvertently meet in the garden they exchange veiled words of love, which leave them both in a state of agitation.

Book 5, Chapter 7

Jones has remained at Western's house past his illness as the squire does not want to part with him. In the meantime Mr. Allworthy becomes ill after neglecting a cold, and the doctor fears for his life. Thus Mr. Allworthy sends for all his family members, including Tom, to say goodbye and to tell them how he has disposed of his money—and his disposition displeases everyone except Tom. Mr. Allworthy tells Tom he has "goodness, generosity, and honour" in his temper but he needs to add "prudence and religion" to be happy.

Book 5, Chapter 8

After the physician arrives Blifil brings news that his mother, on the way back home to Allworthy, has died suddenly of gout in the head. Mr. Allworthy, however, begins to recover.

Analysis

Fielding entirely lets Tom Jones off the hook by revealing in Book 5, Chapters 5 and 6 that Molly is sexually promiscuous. When Tom arrives at her home to perhaps come to an agreement with her that will not result in marriage, he accidentally learns, first, that Molly has taken up with Square in his absence, and second, that he was not Molly's first lover. Clearly a double standard is at work here, despite Fielding's paying lip service to the idea that sex outside of marriage is equally reprehensible for men and women: he champions the same moral standard for both sexes when using Mr. Allworthy as his mouthpiece. Certainly he shows Square to be a hypocrite when he claims he has done no wrong with Molly since she is already a fallen woman, but to some degree Jones expresses the same attitude when he finds out Molly has previously been intimate with Will Barnes. On the other hand three factors can excuse Tom for "evacuating" Molly from his heart: first, she is unfaithful to him with Square and, therefore, does not hold their relationship in high regard; second, the child she is carrying probably does not belong to him; and third, Molly is actually in love with Will Barnes, and the narrator says she took up with Tom and Square to heal her wounded ego. If the reader still has any remaining sympathy for Molly, Fielding reduces her to the level of a prostitute—she stops berating Square for her loss of Tom once he gives her some money. She also tells him she never loved Tom the way she loves him (Square).

While Tom is figuring out his love life Mr. Allworthy takes sick and Bridget dies. Mr. Allworthy imparts what he thinks are his dying words to Tom and the whole family, and he tells Jones he has everything he needs for a good life if he can only acquire prudence and religion. Tom is the only one in the family who is genuinely grieved by Mr. Allworthy's sickness and possible death. Further, Tom is exceedingly grateful for the £500 a year that Mr. Allworthy is leaving him as inheritance because he expected nothing from his foster father who has already given him so much, in Tom's estimation. Meanwhile both tutors are angry they are left only £1,000 and think they deserve much more.

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