Tom Jones: Book 4 - Summary & Analysis

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Sophia Western, the heroine of the novel, is introduced; Tom gets injured in reclaiming Sophia's pet-bird; Sophia grows; Tom's relationship with Molly Seagrim; Tom receives a grievous injury while saving Sophia from a run-away horse.

Chapter-wise Summary

      Squire Western had a daughter named Sophia. She was extremely beautiful. Fielding describes her beauty in these words:

      "Adorned with all the charms in which Nature can array her, bedecked with beauty, youth's sprightliness, innocence, modesty and tenderness, breathing sweetness from her rosy lips, and darting brightness from her sparkling eyes, the lovely Sophia comes."

      Sophia was not only beautiful but also gentle and noble. "Her mind was in every way equal to her person; nay the latter borrowed some charms from the former, for when she smiled the sweetness of her temper diffused that glory over her countenance which no regularity of features can give." Sophia was educated under the care of an aunt, who was a lady of great discretion. So, by her conversation and instruction, Sophia was perfectly well-bred.

      The amiable Sophia was now in her eighteenth year when she is introduced into this history.

      Tom Jones when very young, had presented Sophia, who was then about thirteen years old, with a little bird of whom she was extremely fond. One day, when Mr. Allworthy and his family dined at Mr. Western's place, Master Blifil took the bird from Sophia and, after cutting the string from its leg, tossed it into the air. The bird flew away and. perched itself on a bough at some distance. Sophia screamed out so loudly that Tom Jones ran to her assistance. He soon climbed the tree and as he reached the branch where the bird perched, the branch broke and Tom fell down into the canal below. Seeing Tom in danger, Sophia now screamed ten times louder than before. All the people ran forth to help. Tom had arrived safely on shore. Since this incident, Tom had made a favorable impression upon Sophia.

      Now, one day, finding Sophia alone, Tom requested her to recommend the case of the gamekeeper to her father. She readily agreed to do so. Squire Western, at once, employed George.

      This gamekeeper had a daughter named Molly, who was pretty but cunning and artful. Tom Jones loved her.

      Once Molly got an old gown of Sophia. She put it on one Sunday and went to church.

      Many of the women, who were jealous and mean, assaulted Molly but she was rescued by the timely appearance of Tom Jones.

      After some time, Molly gave birth to a child. As Tom loved Molly, he regarded himself to be the father of the child. When Molly was brought before Mr. Allworthy, he intervened and took the blame upon himself, saying that it was he who had corrupted her. Thus Molly was saved from the penalty of imprisonment. Square, the philosopher, complained to Mr. Allworthy against Tom's bad character and said that Tom had been defending George simply because he loved his daughter.

      One day, Tom went hunting with Squire Western and his daughter. While they were returning, Sophia's horse suddenly began prancing and capering in such a manner that she was in the peril of falling down. Tom Jones, at once, galloped up to her, jumped from his horse and caught hold of the bridle of the horse of Sophia. The unruly animal reared its hind legs and threw Sophia from its back, but Jones caught her in his arms. Sophia was saved but Tom broke his left, arm. His bravery produced a deep impression on the minds of Sophia and her father. Sophia loved Tom all the more deeply. Her father took Tom to his own house and got his broken arm duly treated. Tom remained confined to bed for a few days.

Critical Analysis

      Sophia's introduction in the book creates a new situation for Tom. She is young and charming. The heroine's love for Tom receives a rebuff, when Tom confesses that he is the father of Molly's child. This shows that Tom is an honest man. Squire Western's character is quite interesting and highly amusing. He is a confirmed Jacobite; he is eccentric in his behavior and his personal habits are rather ridiculous. He is a comic figure and a contrast to Squire Allworthy. He loves his daughter but cannot understand her or gauge her feelings.

      In this book, Fielding gives his idea of morality. Morality is relative and one has to look into the motivation and circumstances of each case, before pronouncing judgment on the morality and immorality of a particular character or conduct. In fact, Fielding lays stress on the goodness of the heart rather than dogma or tradition.

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