Tom Jones: Book 16 - Summary & Analysis

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Sophia stays in London with her father and her aunt; Squire Allworthy and Blifil arrive in London; Lady Bellaston plans Tom's ruin; she presses Lord Fellamar's suit; Tom wounds Mr. Fitzpatrick and is arrested.

Chapter-wise Summary

      Sophia was taken to Mr. Western's lodgings which were in Piccadilly. The Squire pressed her vehemently to give her consent to the marriage with Blifil, but instead of complying, she gave a more peremptory and resolute refusal than she had ever done before. Thereupon, Mr. Western became furious, put her in a room, locked the door and kept the key with him. The door of the room, in which Sophia remained confined, was opened only when she was served with meals.

      Once, Black George, at dinner time, carried her up a pullet. The Squire himself was at the door. When Sophia asked George to take the pullet back, he begged her to eat, and particularly recommended to her the eggs, of which he said, it was full. After the departure of Black George and her father, Sophia dissected the fowl and found a letter in its belly. Sophia took up the letter and eagerly read it, for it had been addressed to her by Tom Jones. In this letter, Tom expressed his great love and consideration for Sophia. He wrote "Is there a circumstance in the world which can heighten my agonies, when I hear of any misfortune which hath befallen you? Surely there is one only, and with that I am accursed. It is, my Sophia, the dreadful consideration that I am myself the wretched cause. Pardon me if I ask you, whether my advice, my assistance, my presence, my absence, my death, or my tortures can bring you any relief?" In the evening, while Sophia was meditating on the letter she has received or on something else, a violent noise from below disturbed her meditations. She heard the voices of her father and her aunt, Mrs. Western, who had just arrived there.

      Mrs. Western was shocked to know that Sophia had been confined in a room by Mr. Western. She emphatically asserted that it was not the right method to deal with a young girl. She took Sophia to her own lodgings.

      When Sophia regained her freedom, she wrote to Tom Jones. She informed him that she had given a promise to her aunt not to see or converse with any person without her knowledge and consent. She, therefore, advised him not to write to her for the present, but in the end, she wrote, "Believe this, that I shall always think of you, as I think you deserve" Mr. Jones was very glad to receive the letter from Sophia which he kissed and read over and over again. The same evening, he went to a play-house in the company of Mrs. Miller, her younger daughter and: Mr. Partridge. While Mrs. Miller was engaged in conversation with Partridge, a lady came up to Mr. Jones, whom he immediately knew to be Mrs. Fitzpatrick. She said that she had something to say which might be of great service to himself. An appointment was made with Jones to see her the next day, in the afternoon.

      When Mr. Western had received the sudden news about his daughter, he, in a hurry, went after her. He stopped at the very first inn and sent a messenger to acquaint Blifil with his having found Sophia, and with his firm resolution to marry her to him immediately if he would come up after him to town. So, Mr. Blifil and Squire All worthy set out the very next day and arrived in town that evening. Next morning, Mr. Blifil went to see Mr. Western, who, most kindly and graciously, received him and led him to his sister.

      Lady Bellaston met Mrs. Western and made a conspiracy to get Sophia married to Lord Fellamar. In order to carry out her design, Lady Bellkston handed over, to Mrs. Western, the letter which Jones had written to Lady Bellaston proposing to marry him. This she did with a view to create an impression on Sophia that Jones was faithless to her and, besides, he was a dissolute person who did not deserve any love from any respectable woman. Lady Bellaston thought that, by this letter of Jones, she would succeed completely in making Sophia hate Jones.

      Mrs. Western was thinking of showing the letter to Sophia when Mr. Western abruptly came there with Blifil. Sophia, who was sitting there, went inside. Mrs. Western told her brother that he should not have come so abruptly and sent them back without allowing Blifil to see Sophia. Jones, according to the appointment, went to see Mrs. Fitzpatrick, who made a proposal to him; namely that in order to win Sophia, he should, first of all, make love to Mrs. Western. Jones, however, declined the undertaking, which had not, indeed, the least probability of success. He thanked her and retired.

      As soon as Jones came out of the house, he met a person who asked him, what business he had in that house. Jones recognized the man. He was Mr. Fitzpatrick whom he had met at the inn at Upton. No sooner did Mr. Fitzpatrick recognize Jones, than he became furious and gave him a great blow on his head. He then drew his sword and Jones was and compelled to draw him to defend himself. In the fight, Mr. Fitzpatrick was severely wounded. A number of people caught hold of Jones and took him to a magistrate who sentenced him to imprisonment.

Critical Analysis

      Lady Bellaston's plot to ruin Tom is understandable. Firstly, she has seduced him and he knows all her secrets. So she wants him to go away. Secondly, Tom is loved by Sophia and she cannot stand her rival on account of womanly jealousy. Squire Western, does not succeed in persuading Sophia to agree to marry Blifil. She hates him and wants Tom. She even wrote to Tom expressing her great love for him. Lady Bellaston, out of spite for Tom, proposed the suit of Lord Fellamar. Mrs. Western was charmed with the idea that Sophia would be married into nobility and thereby gain social status. Fielding makes comments on the entertainments of the 18th century. His favorable comment on Garrick's performance of Hamlet, shows that they had great acting talent in that period. Tom's rejection of the proposal of Arabella Hunt and his lack of response to Mrs. Fitzpatrick's passion makes him eligible for the suit of fair Sophia. Tom's character now appears in a favorable light.

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