Tom Jones: Book 14 - Summary & Analysis

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Lady Bellaston shows a great passion for Tom; The story of Mrs. Miller; Mr. Nightingale leaves Nancy, but Tom is successful in persuading Mr. Nightingale to return; Tom meets Nightingale's father.

Chapter-wise Summary

      Lady Bellaston developed a great infatuation for Jones. She wrote him letters. In one of them, she asked him to pay her a visit at night. But she became impatient to meet him, and accordingly; she visited him in his room. As Jones was preparing to go to her, she entered his room. She said, "You see sir, when women have gone one length too far, they will stop at none. If any person would have sworn this to me a week ago, I would not have believed it of myself" She asked Jones whether he had betrayed her to Sophia on the previous occasion. Jones had scarcely assured her that he had not when Partridge came and announced that Mrs. Honour was coming and she was on the stairs. Jones, in great confusion, asked Lady Bellaston to step behind the bed and hide herself behind the curtain. Mrs. Honour handed over to Jones a letter from Sophia. She then cursed Lady Bellaston and said that she (Lady Bellaston) had many lovers whom she used to meet in a house which she had hired for the purpose. When Mrs. Honour had gone, Lady Bellaston got very angry at the remarks of Mrs. Honour. Jones tried to console her, and it was decided between them that Jones should continue to visit the house of Lady Bellaston, so that Sophia herself and the servants would think that Jones was visiting the place of Lady Bellaston only to meet Sophia.

      The next day was appointed for the first visit, and after proper ceremonials, Lady Bellaston returned home.

      Jones was no sooner alone than he eagerly broke open the letter in which Sophia wrote him that Lady Bellaston already had some suspicion, and, if he had any concern for her case, he should not think of visiting her place. This put Jones on the horns of a dilemma. He determined to feign himself sick for this was the only means of failing the appointed visit without incensing Lady Bellaston. So, he wrote a letter to Lady Bellaston containing the above mentioned excuse.

      When Mrs. Miller found that there was an exchange of frequent visits between Jones and Lady Bellaston day and night, she told Jones frankly that she did not like the visits of Lady Bellaston to him. Jones thought of changing his lodgings.

      Nightingale came to Jones and acquainted him with his intention of leaving the house that day.

      Mrs. Miller came to know that Jones had a connection with Mr. Allworthy. She invited Jones and told him that she was much obliged to Squire Allworthy, who, after her husband's death, gave her a large sum of money and settled an annuity of £ 50 a year. But Jones said to Mrs. Miller, "I do assure you, I am no relation of his (Allworthy.)"

      In the morning, Jones was awakened by a violent uproar. Partridge told Jones that Miss Nancy was in fits and that the other sister and mother were both crying and lamenting over her. He also gave a hint that Nancy was pregnant. Jones came down and went to Mrs. Miller to ask if he could be of any help. Mrs. Miller showed him the letter which Nancy had received from Nightingale. In the letter, Nightingale had stated that he was to marry a young lady of fortune in obedience to the command of his father. Jones was shocked to read the letter but he consoled Mrs. Miller, saying that he would meet Mr. Nightingale and try to persuade him to marry Nancy.

      Jones met Mr. Nightingale who said that he was Willing to marry Nancy but his father would not give his consent to such a match. Taking Mr. Nightingale's consent, Jones decided to see his father.

      Jones paid a visit to the old father of Nightingale. He told him that the poor girl whom his son has married, had many qualities of the head and heart. When old Nightingale received the news of the marriage of his son, he was dumb-struck. At that very moment, his brother entered the room who, too, pleaded the case of his nephew. When, after much persuasion, they found that the father had grown more and more irritated, Jones conducted the uncle to his nephew at the house of Mrs. Miller. On his return, Jones found Mr. Nightingale already there. The uncle paid the proper compliments to his nephew, Mr. Nightingale, as if his nephew had married his equal or superior in fortune. Mrs. Miller informed Jones that all matters were settled between Mr. Nightingale and her daughter and that they were to be married the next morning.

      Jones was in his room when the maid informed him that a gentlewoman desired to speak to him. He immediately went out and found Mrs. Honour, who acquainted him with a dreadful news concerning Sophia.

Critical Analysis

      Tom is in an unenviable situation, because, on the one hand, Lady Bellaston is quite fond of him and on the other hand, Sophia had asked him not to visit her at her place.

      There is a digression in the 'Nightingale-Nancy' affair. Nightingale feels proud of his capacity to deceive women, while he has a great weakness for sex. Squire Western does not like Tom because of his poverty. On the other hand, Nightingale is ready to marry the poor Nancy, but he is afraid that his father will not like the match because it will not bring any material gain to him. Tom tried his best to convince the elder Nightingale about his son's love for Nancy but he does not succeed.

      The 'Nightingale-Nancy' affair shows the materialistic values of the 18th century. Such stories, Fielding offers us in order to give us an insight into his own age.

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