Tom Jones: Book 18 - Summary & Analysis

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Tom in prison; Partridge tells Tom that he has committed incest with Mrs. Waters who is actually Jenny Jones; Mrs. Waters reveals the truth of Tom's parentage and Blifil's villainy. Squire Allworthy writes to Squire Western about Tom's goodness; marriage of Tom and Sophia.

Chapter-wise Summary

      When Mrs. Waters had gone, Partridge asked Jones if the lady, who just went out, was the same lady with whom he went to bed at Upton. Jones replied in the affirmative. Then Partridge cried out "Why then the lord have mercy upon your soul and forgive you but as sure as I stand here alive, you have been at bed with your, own mother" Knowing that Mrs. Waters was his mother, Jones was struck dumb with amazement. He was tormented with the idea that he had gone to bed at Upton with his own mother.

      Mr. Allworthy received a letter from Square, who wrote it from his deathbed. He assured Squire Allworthy that Jones had been misrepresented to him, otherwise he was quite innocent. Asserting that Jones had much love and regard for him he wrote: "When you lay upon your supposed deathbed, he was the only person in house who testified any real concern, and what happened afterward arose from the wildness of his joy on your recovery. I am satisfied when you dismissed him from your house, his heart bled for you more than for himself." Square's letter produced a deep impression on the mind of Allworthy in favor of Tom Jones. At the same time, Mr. Allwortliy received a letter from Roger Thwackum. His letter was different in content. Thwackum had heard of the murder committed by Tom. He, therefore, wrote to Allworthy saying that he had already given warning to him but it was unheeded. Allworthy already knew him to be proud and ill-natured; therefore his letter had no effect upon him.

      In a meeting, Partridge told Allworthy that he was not Jones's father. He told Allworthy that Mrs. Waters was the mother of Jones. He then related the whole story of Jones since he had met him and the dreadful accident, too, which happened at Upton. Allworthy was much shocked at this discovery. At this very instant, Mrs. Waters came hastily and abruptly into the room.

      Mrs. Waters was the same lady as Jenny Jones, who, at the beginning of story, owned herself as the mother of Tom Jones. In this important private meeting between Mrs. Waters and Mr. Allworthy, the whole truth about the birth of Tom Jones was revealed.

      On Mrs. Waters's arrival, Partridge was ordered to withdraw.

      Mrs. Waters related the whole past story to him. She reminded Allworthy that a certain young man, whose name was Summer, had lived in his house for some time. It was he who was father of Tom Jones. She said: "So what I confessed was true: that these hands conveyed the infant to your bed, conveyed it thither at the command of its mother; at her commands I afterwards owned it, and thought myself by her generosity nobly rewarded, both for my secrecy and my shame." She then asserted that his sister Mrs. Bridget was the mother of Tom Jones. Mrs. Waters then explained that in his absence, when he had gone to London, the child was born in presence of herself (Mrs. Waters) and he was kept by her till the evening of his (Mr. Allworthy) return, when she, by the command of Mrs. Bridget, conveyed it into the bed where he found it.

      Mrs. Waters informed Mr. Allworthy that Dowling, who was now his steward, took her for Mrs. Fitzpatrick and promised her every financial help to carry on the prosecution against Tom. She also informed that a very worthy gentleman would supply the money. Mrs. Waters told Allworthy that through Dowling she came to know who Jones was.

      Mr. Allworthy then summoned Dowling and asked him, on what business he went to see that lady. Dowling explained that whatever he did was according to the instructions of Mr. Blifil. Mr. Allworthy told Dowling that he would not have behaved in that manner, had he known that Mr. Jones was his nephew. Dowling replied that he did not want to take any notice of the fact which Mr. Allworthy himself desired to conceal. Mr. Allworthy asked Dowling if he knew the fact that Tom Jones was his nephew. Dowling said: "Indeed, sir, I did know it for they were almost the last words which Madam Blifil ever spoke, which she mentioned to me as I stood alone by her bedside, when she delivered me the letter I brought your worship from her." Mr. Allworthy was surprised at the mention of the letter. Dowling said that he brought the letter from Salisbury and delivered it into the hands of Mr. Blifil. He further said that Allworth's sister had said to him on her deathbed: "Tell my brother, Mr. Jones is his nephew. He is my son. Bless him." Mr. Allworthy, at last, realized that Mr. Blifil was the villain who had deceived him through his life. He ordered Blifil to find the letter which his mother had sent him from her deathbed. Blifil turned pale with fear. Mr. Allworthy then departed for the house of Mr. Western.

      At Mr. Western's house, Mr. Allworthy met Sophia. He regretted that she had suffered much from his family. He said "Believe me, Miss Western, I rejoice from my heart. I rejoice in your escape. I had discovered the wretch, for whom you have suffered all this cruel violence from your father, to be a villain". He told Sophia that Jones was his nephew and he was much ashamed of his past behavior towards him. Mr. Allworthy acquainted Mr. Western with the whole discovery which he had made concerning Jones, with his anger for Blifil, and with every particular which had been disclosed.

      No sooner was Western informed of Mr. Allworthy's intention to make Jones his heir, than he joined heartily with the uncle (Allworthy) in every commendation of the nephew and became as eager for his daughter's marriage with Jones as he had before been to couple her with Blifil. Then Mr. Allworthy took leave of Squire Western, but promised to bring Mr. Jones to visit him that afternoon.

      When Allworthy returned to his lodgings, he heard that Mr. Jones had just arrived before him. He hurried instantly into an empty chamber, where he ordered Mr. Jones to be brought to him alone. It was a most tender and moving scene of the meeting between uncle and nephew. Mrs. Waters had already visited Tom in his prison and told him the secret of his birth. Tom Jones was, therefore, no longer sorry or ashamed to meet his uncle. As he fell down at the feet of his uncle, Mr. Allworthy took him up in his arms and said: "Oh! my child how have I been to blame! How have I injured you! what amend, can I ever make you for those unkind, those unjust suspicions which I have entertained and for all the sufferings they have occasioned to you?" Mr. Jones replied: "Am I not made amends? Would not my sufferings if they had been ten times greater have been now richly repaid? Oh my dear uncle, this goodness, this tenderness, overpowers, unmans, destroys me! I cannot bear the transports which flow so fast upon me. To be again restored to your presence, to your favor, to be once more this kindly received by my great, my noble, my generous, benefactor." A servant informed them that Mr. Western was down stairs. When he came upstairs, he went up to Jones and said:" My old friend Tom I am glad to see thee with all my heart. All past must be forgotten:" It was now settled that Mr. Allworthy would pay a visit to the house of Mr. Western in the afternoon in the company of Tom Jones.

      When Mr. Western departed, Jones began to inform Mr. Allworthy and Mrs. Miller that on the surgeon's oath, the wounded person was out of all manner of danger from his wound so he was discharged.

      Tom and Squire Allworthy went to the house of Squire Western. After taking tea, Western took Allworthy out of the room. The lovers were now alone. Tom asked her pardon in the most loving and endearing terms; but Sophia said that she would like to watch his behavior at least for one year during which she would be able to judge truly his real character and fidelity; and if, after that, she was satisfied, she would give her consent to marry him. Tom cried out, "Oh! My Sophia you have named an eternity." Jones grew impatient and caught her in his arms and kissed her with an ardour he had never ventured before. At this instant, Western, who had stood some time listening, burst into the room, and advised Sophia to give her consent to marry Jones without any further delay. Sophia was already prepared for this and so she said to her father "Well, sir, I will obey you. There is my hand Mr. Jones." Squire Western proposed that the marriage should be celebrated the next morning. Sophia gave her consent. She said: "Why then tomorrow morning shall be the day, Papa since you will have it so". Accordingly, Jones and Sophia were married the very next day.

      The reader will desire to know a little more concerning others. Allworthy had never been prevailed upon to see Blifil, but he had yielded to the importunity of Jones to settle £200 a year upon him. With this income, Blifil lives in one of the northern countries about 200 miles distant from London.

      Square died soon after he wrote the letter mentioned earlier. Thwackum made many fruitless attempts to regain the confidence of Allworthy.

      Mrs. Fitzpatrick was separated from her husband and now lived in reputation at the polite end of the town. Mrs. Western was soon reconciled to her niece. Mr. Nightingale purchased an estate for his son in the neighborhood of Jones where the young gentleman, his wife, Mrs. Miller and her little daughter resided.

      Mrs. Waters returned into the country, had a pension of £60 a year which was settled upon her by Mr. Allworthy and was married to Parson Supple.

      As for Partridge, Jones settled £50 a year on him, and he again set up a school.

      Now Sophia has two children — a boy and a girl of whom Western is so fond that he spends much of his time in the nursery. Allworthy still has great affection for Jones and Sophia who love him as a father. Whatever in the nature of Jones had a tendency to vice, has been corrected by the moral sermons of Squire All worthy and by the sweet and virtuous nature of Sophia.

Critical Analysis

      The last book ends on a happy note. Tom is not really wicked, but he lacks discretion. He succumbs to the temptations of the moment. But his goodness of heart is never in doubt. Though a foundling—a bastard according to the 18th century notion—he is a gentleman because it is the deeds that matter, not the environment or the accident of birth.

      The secret of Tom's parentage is disclosed, in the end, by Mrs. Waters. Tom, like Blifil, was the son of Bridget who had an informal sexual relationship with a young man named Summer who had, at one time, stayed at Allworthy's estate. The 18th century notions of respectability and propriety are reinforced by this revelation. Tom, having good blood of an aristocratic family was fit for alliance with Sophia because both the Squires (Allworthy and Western) belong to the same strata of society.

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