Tom Jones: Book 17 - Summary & Analysis

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Squire Allworthy and Blifil move out to London; Mrs. Miller defends Tom; Tom is told of Fitzpatrick's recovery by Mrs. Waters.

Chapter-wise Summary

      Throughout his life, Blifil had been trying to impose upon Mr. Allworthy that Tom Jones was an ungrateful wretch. Mr. Allworthy and Mrs. Miller just sat down to breakfast, when Blifil, having known that Jones was in prison awaiting trial for the murder of some person, tried to make the best use of the opportunity. He told Mr. Allworthy that Tom had proved himself to be one of the greatest villains upon earth. Mrs. Miller at once flared up at these remarks. She could not help saying "Mr. Jones is no villain, he is one of the worthiest creatures breathing, and if any other person had called him villain, I would have thrown all this boiling water on his face." Mrs. Miller spoke highly in favor of Tom Jones. She told Mr. Allworthy that Jones had a great respect and love for him too. She said, "in this very room I have seen him on his knees, imploring all the blessings of heavens upon your head. I do not love that child better than he loves you". While she was praising Jones, a violent knocking at the door was heard. Mr. Western had come to see Squire Allworthy. So, the conversation was interrupted and Mrs. Miller went inside.

      Mr. Western requested Allworthy to dine with him at the Hercules Pillars. Mr. Allworthy had to accept this invitation.

      When Mr. Allworthy and his nephew went to meet Mr. Western, Mrs. Miller went to Mr. Nightingale's house to acquaint him with the accident which had befallen his friend Jones, but he had known it from Partridge. Mrs. Miller went to see Mr. Jones. Mr. Nightingale was already there. In the meantime, Partridge brought good news that Fitzpatrick was still alive, though the surgeon declared that he had very little hopes. Tom requested Mrs. Miller to carry a letter to Sophia.

      Mrs. Miller went to Sophia. She refused to accept the letter. Mrs. Miller, laying the letter on the table, took her leave. After her departure, Sophia opened the letter and read it. In that letter, Tom assured his love and fidelity to Sophia and promised to vindicate his position if he ever got a chance of meeting her.

      Mrs. Miller again spoke to Allworthy in favor of Jones. She said "I make not the least doubt but time will show all matters in their true and natural colors, and that you will be convinced this poor young man deserves better of you than some other folks that shall be nameless."

      Jones was sitting very sadly in the prison in the company of Mr. Nightingale and Mrs. Miller, who had come to see him. He was informed that there was a lady who desired to speak with him. Mrs. Miller and Mr. Nightingale presently took their leave and he gave orders to have the lady admitted. Jones was astonished to see that she was no other than Mrs. Waters.

      The reader will remember that this lady departed from Upton in the same coach with Mr. Fitzpatrick. This gentleman and lady lived as husband and wife at Bath. They arrived together in London. Mr. Fitzpatrick never told her about his first wife, till he was brought home from the tavern, where his wound had been dressed. Mrs. Waters came to know that Mr. Fitzpatrick was wounded by Jones. When she knew that Jones had been committed to the Gatehouse for this supposed murder, she left Mr. Fitzpatrick to the care of his nurse and came to see Jones. Finding Jones melancholy, she assured him that Mr. Fitzpatrick was out of danger, and therefore he should not take it so much to heart. About Fitzpatrick, she said "By the most extraordinary accident in the world I lodge at the same house and have seen the gentleman, and I promise you he doth you justice and says, whatever be the consequence, that he was entirely the aggressor and that you were not in the least to blame." Jones was very glad to hear that Fitzpatrick was out of danger and was willing to confess that he himself was the aggressor.

Critical Analysis

      Squire Allworthy's credulity makes him believe Blifil's accusation against Tom. However, Mrs. Miller's remarks soften Allworthy's attitude towards Tom. She tells him of his great qualities. Blifil and Dowling contrive to ruin Tom.

      There is an advance in the plot, as Squire Allworthy's attitude towards Tom gets changed and there is a prospect of the softening of his heart. Squire Allworthy realizes that Sophia is much against Blifil and will not agree to marry him. Similarly, she is against Lord Fellamar who had once tried to rape her.

      Tom is involved in a duel with Fitzpatrick who gets grievously injured. Tom is put in prison. The news given by Mrs. Waters that Fitzpatrick is out of danger, makes Tom happy.

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