Literature Study GuidesTom JonesBook 7 Chapters 1 5 Summary

Tom Jones | Study Guide

Henry Fielding

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Tom Jones | Book 7, Chapters 1–5 : Containing Three Days. | Summary

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Summary

Book 7, Chapter 1

The narrator takes time to meditate on how the world is a stage, as has been pointed out by many writers. With regard to Black George he notes that "a single bad act no more constitutes a villain in life, than a single bad part on the stage."

Book 7, Chapter 2

Tom gets a letter from Blifil that says that Mr. Allworthy wants him to immediately leave the country. Since Tom has no money he resolves to go to sea and hires a horse and sets out for Bristol.

Book 7, Chapter 3

Mrs. Western is again lecturing Sophia on the true purpose of marriage—"a fund in which prudent women deposit their fortunes to the best advantage ... to receive a larger interest for them than they could have elsewhere." Since Western has been eavesdropping on this conversation, he rushes in and is soon in another argument with his sister about the government of Sophia as well as the government of the country since she supports the Hanover line of succession and he sympathizes with the Young Pretender (see Context).

Book 7, Chapter 4

The narrator provides a brief history of Western's marriage, one in which he mostly left his wife to her own devices while he engaged in hunting and excessive drinking. Nonetheless, he grew to hate his wife partly for her gentle protest about his drunkenness, and when he gets angry at Sophia he abuses her mother, especially since he envies Sophia's love for her dead parent. Western now berates Sophia's mother and his sister.

Book 7, Chapter 5

Sophia reminds Western that his sister loves him and when she dies she will no doubt leave him her whole fortune. This last statement brings him up short because he doesn't want a breach with his sister in which she would leave the estate out of the family. Thus Sophia begs him to patch up the quarrel with Mrs. Western who is again threatening to leave. Western takes her advice and leaves, and Sophia returns to her apartment to grieve over Tom Jones.

Analysis

Fielding satirizes the materialism of the upper classes when he explains in Book 7, Chapter 3 that Mrs. Western saw marriage as a business transaction rather than "a romantic scheme of happiness arising from love, as it hath been described by the poets" or a sacred institution as taught by the clergy. Once again the use of the word prudence on Mrs. Western's part denotes not the true prudence that leads to wisdom that the narrator recommends for Tom but rather the shrewd prudence that seeks out what will improve one's fortunes. Mrs. Western is a single woman, herself possessed of a large fortune, and she has chosen not to marry no doubt because she likes being her own mistress and perhaps because she isn't built for love. But it is the height of hypocrisy for her to insist that her niece get married—and especially to someone she has so much aversion to—when she herself has skillfully kept herself away from matrimony.

Sophia has less naïveté than Tom: she sees people clearly and loves her nearest and dearest despite their considerable faults. For example, she knows how much her father wants to inherit his sister's money and for that reason she reminds him in Book 7, Chapter 5 about her fortune. She knows her father is greedy and that her aunt is a busybody, so she uses that information to get the siblings to patch up their quarrel. She does this out of love, not for any ulterior motive.

In Book 7, Chapter 4 the narrator learns about Western's disastrous marriage in which he ignores his wife for the most part and seems to have little interest in sex (the narrator tells us he goes to bed drunk most nights). Although she is mostly meek and mild he grows to hate her simply because she is not him. The narrator repeatedly says he loves his daughter, but the fact that he has to say it so often is itself situational irony (in which what happens is different from what is expected to happen): the squire seems rather to be a consummate narcissist who loves people only as a function (which serves his interests), and when they cross him and assert their own personhood he cannot help but get infuriated.

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