Literature Study GuidesTom JonesBook 9 Chapters 5 7 Summary

Tom Jones | Study Guide

Henry Fielding

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Tom Jones | Book 9, Chapters 5–7 : Containing Twelve Hours. | Summary

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Summary

Book 9, Chapter 5

While Tom is finally getting to eat after starving for a day, Mrs. Waters's mind turns to love. The narrator stops to remark "Mr. Jones ... in reality, [was] one of the handsomest fellows in the world." Fielding playfully notes Mrs. Waters begins an amorous battle with Tom, flirting with him until he finally notices and succumbs: "I am afraid Mr. Jones ... treacherously delivered up the garrison," the narrator says, "without duly weighing his allegiance to the fair Sophia."

Book 9, Chapter 6

The innkeepers, the sergeant, Partridge, and a coachman are gossiping in the kitchen. Partridge fills them in on how Tom found Mrs. Waters, and the sergeant says she is the common-law wife of his captain. Moreover, she is well acquainted with Northerton, who is likely her lover. Partridge relays information about Tom, saying he is the heir of Mr. Allworthy. A lady and her maid are forced to spend the night at the inn after the coachman gets drunk. Meanwhile Mrs. Waters "feast[s] heartily at the table of love, without reflecting that some other already had been, or hereafter might be, feasted with the same repast."

Book 9, Chapter 7

The narrator confirms Mrs. Waters has been carrying on an affair with Northerton. The two of them had planned a rendezvous at Worcester, where she was first meeting with Captain Waters. The captain expected his wife to return to Bath until the campaign against the rebels is over. When Northerton arrived, a few hours after Captain Waters left (they are in different companies), Northerton told her about his scrape with Jones, when he insulted Sophia and knocked Jones unconscious. The lovers determined he must escape to Wales and she would accompany him. They began the journey on foot to avoid attracting attention, and Mrs. Waters mentioned she had £90. At some point Northerton decided he'd rather go it alone, along with her money. Jones came upon them as he was attempting to rob and kill her.

Analysis

The narrator describes a follow-up battle in these chapters—one in which Mrs. Waters lays siege to the carelessly guarded fortress of Tom Jones. In truth Mrs. Waters is not all that scrupulous when it comes to sexual relations. Although not married to Captain Waters she is his common-law wife and thus owes him the obligation of fidelity. Yet she is cheating on him with the ensign, whom she is planning to run away with. In addition to having loose morals Mrs. Waters is a poor judge of character because Northerton nearly kills her for her trouble.

Mrs. Waters now has her eye on the handsome young man who rescued her, shamelessly flirting with Tom until he gets the message. Once again Jones sleeps with a woman because she—albeit implicitly—asks him. Fielding casts Jones against stereotype, as he becomes the passive recipient of female sexual overtures. Nonetheless there is an aspect of a soldier being called to (and accepting) service in Tom's response to women; another metaphor that fits is of a gentleman being challenged to a duel who must accept for the sake of his honor. Apart for his love and attraction for Sophia, Tom exhibits no discrimination in his lady partners, accepting two women who are considerably older than him—Mrs. Waters and Lady Bellaston. He is a young, virile man, no doubt with strong natural urges, so perhaps it makes sense he would not turn down an invitation. And since he has a lot of respect for women and seems incapable of deceit it is unlikely he would initiate a sexual liaison with a woman who was at all reluctant. From that perspective Tom simply takes what is offered and exhibits his customary gratitude.

Mrs. Waters realizes in Book 9, Chapter 6 that Tom is in love with another woman, but that does not stop her from feasting heartily on the seconds, as the narrator says, again employing a food metaphor to describe the pleasures of sex. Clearly Tom has not learned how to be prudent when it comes to his relations with women, and fate immediately punishes him for his indiscretion before the day is over.

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