Tom Jones: Book 11 - Summary & Analysis

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Sophia Western meets Mrs. Fitzpatrick who is her cousin; Mrs. Fitzpatrick tells her own story; Sophia loses a hundred-pound note; An Irish nobleman meets the two ladies; They all proceed to London.

Chapter-wise Summary

      Sophia had hardly gone a mile from the inn when, looking behind her, she saw several horses coming after her, at full speed. This greatly alarmed her. Soon they reached near and she was relieved by a female voice that greeted her with great civility. These travelers were also two females and a guide. The two parties proceeded together. The bonnet of the lady was blown from her head again. When Sophia knew this, she immediately supplied her with a handkerchief. While she was pulling from her pocket the handkerchief, the horse fell upon his legs and threw Sophia from his back, but she received no injury except a little fright by her fall.

      When daylight appeared, the two ladies who were riding side by side looked more closely at each other. They were surprised to recognize each other and one of them pronounced the name of Sophia and the other, that of Harriet. Sophia and Harriet were cousins. Harriet was the wife of Fitzpatrick, the Irishman who came to the inn at Upton in search of her. The travelers now decided to stop at an inn. Accordingly, they got into the nearest inn.

      After taking rest, Sophia acquainted her cousin with her design to go to London, and Mrs. Fitzpatrick agreed to accompany her; for the arrival of her husband at Upton had put an end to her design of going to Bath or her aunt Western. They decided to set out next morning.

      Harriet narrated to Sophia the story of her life. She said that when she was living with her aunt, Mrs. Western, at Bath, she took a fancy to some Irishman (Fitzpatrick) who was not a man of good character. Although many of her friends and relatives warned her against that Irishman, yet she (Harriet) married him and after their marriage she went to Ireland with him. Soon after her marriage, the Irishman began to neglect her and also treated her very cruelly. She came to know further that her husband maintained a keep. Then again, once he went to England, and came back to Ireland after having squandered all his money. He further urged her to sell her property; but when she refused to listen to him, he confined her in a room for about a fortnight after which she managed to escape from her imprisonment and fled first to Dublin and finally to England. She was now going to Bath, but when she came to know that her husband was at Upton, she changed her program and proceeded to London, and that is how she met Sophia on the way.

      Sophia also related to her cousin, the history of her own life without making any mention of Tom Jones. Soon afterward, an Irish nobleman arrived at the inn. He was known to Mrs. Fitzpatrick. It was this nobleman who helped Mrs. Fitzpatrick to escape from her husband. It was now decided that Mrs. Fitzpatrick should accompany the nobleman in his coach and six to the city of London. Upon the persuasion of her cousin, Sophia too agreed to accompany them.

      Next morning, at seven, the ladies were ready for their journey. Sophia, while paying a present to the landlord, discovered that she had lost the hundred-pound bank bill. She searched everywhere but for no purpose. She now thought that she had lost it when she had tumbled from her horse. It seemed to her more probable that while drawing forth her handkerchief, before her fall, in order to relieve the distress of Mrs. Fitzpatrick, she had lost the bank bill.

      Having reached London, Mrs. Fitzpatrick and Sophia put up at a lodging which was procured for them. After a few days, it was decided by Mrs. Fitzpatrick and the nobleman that the lady (Mrs. Fitzpatrick) should proceed directly to Bath, and that his lordship (nobleman) should first go to London and then to Bath by the advice of his physicians. Sophia somehow understood their decision. As Sophia had already decided to meet Lady Bellaston, she mentioned this to Mrs. Fitzpatrick who raised no objection. As soon as Lady Bellaston received the message from Sophia, she sent her a most pressing invitation which Sophia accepted. Sophia took leave of Mrs. Fitzpatrick and went to Lady Bellaston where she found a most hearty as well as most polite welcome.

Critical Analysis

      The story does not move as much as it ought to, on account of Mrs. Fitzpatrick's story. This is apparently a digression but it brings into focus the similarity of the stories of the two ladies. Mrs. Fitzpatrick has suffered greatly at the hands of her husband in Ireland and as such, has decided to go to London. She is critical of Sophia's love for Tom, though she herself has been ill-treated by an immoral opportunist like Mr. Fitzpatrick. The story of Sophia resembles that of Mrs. Fitzpatrick. The latter has run away from a dull and faithless husband. Mrs. Fitzpatrick's affair with an Irish gentleman, whom she described as her "friend", shows that she is not a virtuous lady. In this way, she is a contrast to the purity and dignity of Sophia. As such, both of them decided to part company. There is a mention of Jacobite rebellion of 1745. Sophia, who is herself running away from a hateful match, shows a great pity for the misfortunes of Mrs. Fitzpatrick.

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