HomeLiterature Study GuidesTom JonesBook 6 Chapters 6 10 Summary

Tom Jones | Study Guide

Henry Fielding

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Tom Jones | Book 6, Chapters 6–10 : Containing about Three Weeks. | Summary

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Summary

Book 6, Chapter 6

Sophia tells her maid Honour she must be married to a man she despises and hates. Honour takes Sophia's part, saying her father has no right to expect her to bind herself to a man she finds repulsive. She tells Sophia Tom has been walking around outside looking very sad, and Sophia asks for her hat and gloves, saying she will walk in the grove. Unfortunately she just misses Tom. Mistaken identities, coincidences, and many obstacles of class and wealth to true love are solid tropes of Roman to Shakespearean comedies and the Italian commedia del arte conventions.

Book 6, Chapter 7

Sophia dresses herself to receive the man she hates. When Blifil visits Sophia hardly says anything to him and then leaves abruptly. He thinks she is simply bashful. Certainly he has no suspicion Tom is a rival. Blifil reports success to Mr. Western, and he is overjoyed. When Sophia sees her father is in such a good mood she confides her real feelings about Blifil, saying, "I cannot live with Mr. Blifil. To force me into this marriage would be killing me." Western speaks violently to his daughter in return, saying he is "resolved upon the match" and if she does not consent to it he will have her "expiring with famine in the street." After Western leaves Sophia he runs into Jones and tells him about the whole interaction. Tom volunteers to go to Sophia and persuade her to her father's way of thinking.

Book 6, Chapter 8

Tom finds Sophia with bloodied lips since her face hit the floor when her father violently broke away from her pleading. She tells Tom he should have let her die, and he says he lives only for her. Tom asks Sophia to promise never to give herself to Blifil, and she answers that she never would. He further asks her whether he might hope for more, but she says she can never cause her father misery. Thus they discover themselves at an impasse.

Book 6, Chapter 9

When Mrs. Western tells the squire where his daughter's true affections lie, he begins cursing and thundering and runs to his daughter's apartment. She hears him coming and faints, so Western finds her in Tom's arms. Western calls for help, and Sophia is revived and led off by her maid Honour and her aunt. Parson Supple intervenes before Western turns his rage on Tom and physically holds him back.

Book 6, Chapter 10

Squire Western visits Mr. Allworthy and tells him Tom has been "poaching" on his daughter and she returns his affection. Western swears Sophia will marry Blifil and stalks off. Mr. Allworthy now asks Blifil what he will do, and he says he hopes Sophia will come to her senses and not marry a beggar and lose her own fortune in the process. He also proceeds to blacken Tom's character in the eyes of his foster father by telling him what happened on the day Tom got drunk. However, he leaves out important details.

Analysis

Squire Western is a comic figure and meant to be a foil to Mr. Allworthy. Unlike Mr. Allworthy he hated his wife and dislikes women in general. While Mr. Allworthy is a man of moderation, Western drinks until he is drunk, on a regular basis. Mr. Allworthy is kind and generous, while Western is generous only to his daughter and kind as the mood takes him. He loves his daughter, the narrator tells us repeatedly, yet he treats her like chattel, and his desire for her to marry to extend the property and riches of his family is a manifestation of his greed. While the scenes in which Western thunders, blunders, and curses are often funny, they are shocking and disturbing when he is cruel toward Sophia. When in Book 6, Chapter 7 she gets on her knees and begs him not to make her marry a man she despises, he threatens to withhold even food from her if she does not comply, and he thrusts her away so violently her face hits the floor. These are the acts of an unrepentant brute, and a stupid one at that because he sends Tom to Sophia, having no inkling of how things stand between them.

Despite her father's cruelty Sophia tells Tom that although she won't marry Blifil, she cannot marry Tom if her father disapproves of such a match. Thus she gives him respect that he doesn't deserve. Meanwhile, Blifil is almost as oblivious as the squire, thinking in Book 6, Chapter 7 that Sophia is simply shy and he is "perfectly well satisfied with his prospect of success." He does not think to possess her heart, the narrator says, but only her "fortune and her person," and he has no doubt this will be accomplished because he knows "the strict obedience which Sophia was always ready to pay to her father's will." But both he and Western underestimate Sophia, who understands exactly what Blifil is about. Because she discerns his true character she actively hates him as a prospective husband.

When in Book 6, Chapter 10 Mr. Allworthy learns Tom is "poaching" on Western's daughter and gets a further report of his bad behavior from Blifil, he is outraged. Of course Blifil claims Tom's bad behavior occurred on the day when Mr. Allworthy was in the "utmost danger" rather than right after his brother learned Mr. Allworthy would recover. He also gives him a twisted version of the fistfight, not mentioning Tom was protecting a woman or that the two of them double teamed him until Western intervened. Blifil seems to reluctantly provide this information when he previously sought to shield and forgive Tom. Blifil plays his hand masterfully, and, once Thwackum confirms the story, this is the last straw for Mr. Allworthy.

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