Tom Jones: Book 6 - Summary & Analysis

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Mrs. Western feels that Sophia is in love with Blifil; she helps both; Tom falls into disfavor.

Chapter-wise Summary

      Mrs. Western, the sister of Squire Western, thought that Sophia was in love with Blifil because she had fainted at the sight of Blifil lying flat on the ground; and therefore she suggested to Squire Western that Blifil and Sophia should be married. Squire Western was much pleased at this news and decided to make the proposal to Mr. Allworthy. He, accordingly, one evening invited Blifil, Squire Allworthy and others of Allworthy's family to dinner.

      Sophia, fearing to disclose her love for Tom, pretended to show by her attention to Blifil that she was in love with him and not with Tom. When the dinner was over, Squire Western proposed to Squire Allworthy that Sophia and Blifil should be married. Mr. Allworthy did not give him a definite promise of his acceptance. He appreciated the offer but said that if the young people liked each other, he should be very serious to bless the affair.

      Returning home, Mr. Allworthy consulted Master Blifil and wrote to Mr. Western, the next morning, that his nephew had gladly received the proposal and would be ready to visit Sophia whenever she should be pleased. Squire Western was much pleased with this letter. Therefore, without consulting his daughter, he appointed that very afternoon for opening the scene of courtship.

      When Mrs. Western first communicated to Sophia the news that her father had made arrangements for her to receive her lover that very afternoon, she thought that by the word 'lover', her father meant Tom Jones. She, therefore, frankly admitted her love for him even when he was 'base born'. In this way, Sophia's secret love for Jones was revealed to the aunt. Mrs. Western strongly rebuked her for thinking favorably of a bastard like Jones and insisted that she must marry Master Blifil. Sophia fell at the feet of her aunt and begged her with tears to conceal her secret from her father. She, however, promised to see Mr. Blifil and to behave towards him as politely as she possibly could do under the circumstances.

      In the afternoon Blifil arrived, and Mr. Western left the young couple together. Both of them remained silent for a quarter of an hour. At last, Blifil broke forth into a torrent of far-fetched and high-sounding compliments, which were answered by her with downcast looks and monosyllables. Blifil took this behavior for a modest assent to his courtship and he was well satisfied with the prospect of his success.

      As soon as Blifil had departed, Squire Western came to see Sophia. He was confident that the young persons loved each other. He called her by the most endearing names and said that she was his only joy on earth. Perceiving her father in a fit of affection, she thought she should never have a better opportunity of disclosing her feelings than at present. She laid hold of his hand, and falling on her knees she begged him not to make her the most miserable creature on earth by forcing her to marry a man whom she detested. She said "Oh! Sir, not only your poor Sophy's happiness but her, very life, her being, depends upon your granting her request. I cannot live with Mr. Blifil. To force me into this marriage would be killing me." But Squire Western concluded in these words: "I am resolved upon the match, and unless you consent to it I will, not give you a great, not a single farthing; no, though I saw you expiring with famine in the street, I would not relieve you with a morsel of bread. This is my fixed resolution and so I leave you to consider on it."

      When Squire Western came out of the room of Sophia, he found Jones in the hall. Jones, seeing his friend looking wild, pale and almost breathless, inquired the reason of his melancholy. Upon which the Squire acquainted him with the whole matter. To Jones, the whole matter was yet a secret. He was, at first, almost struck dead with this revelation. Recovering his spirit, he desired to leave and to go to Sophia and try to persuade her to agree with her father's inclinations. Little knowing that Mr. Jones himself was the lover of Sophia, Squire Western thanked Jones to undertake the office and asked him to go and try what he could do.

      Coming to Sophia's room, he found her just risen from the ground where her father had left her, with tears trickling from her eyes and blood running from her lips. He ran to her and acquainted her with his deep and sincere love. He asked her to promise that she would never give herself to Blifil, which Sophia assured him. Both stood for a time hand in hand, silent and trembling at the thought of their separation.

      Soon after Jones had left Mr. Western, his sister Mrs. Western came there. When Mr. Western told her that Sophia had refused to marry Blifil, she informed him that his daughter was in love with Tom Jones. Squire Western stood, for a moment, like a person struck with thunder and then rushed into the apartment of Sophia roaring forth threats of revenge at every step. Sophia was so much frightened to hear the thunderous voice of her father that she fainted. Having burst open the door, Mr. Western beheld the ghastly appearance of Sophia who had fainted away in her lover's arms. Mr. Western called for help and water. Sophia was soon restored to her consciousness and was led to her chamber by her maid and Mrs. Western. No sooner was Mr. Western cured of his immediate fears for his daughter, than he relapsed into his former frenzy which must have produced an immediate battle with Jones, had not Parson Supple been present there.

      Next day, Mr. Western went to Mr. Allworthy and related to him everything that had happened the day before. Mr. Allworthy was very sorry to hear this. While leaving, Mr. Western assured Blifil that Sophia would be married to him and swore that he would have no other son-in-law.

      Blifil, being baffled in his dreams of marriage with Sophia, thought it the best opportunity to poison the mind of Squire Allworthy against Tom. He added fuel to the fire by relating how, during his illness, Tom got heavily drunk and beat Blifil. Thwackum also supported the statements of Blifil against Tom. Squire Allworthy grew very much annoyed.

      The same afternoon, when dinner was over, Mr. Allworthy scolded Tom and said that he had forgiven him too often already but now it would be criminal in any one to support and encourage him. He added "Your audacious attempt to steal away the young lady calls upon me to justify my own character in punishing you." He then turned Jones out of his house after paying him £500 as his last gift.

      Jones was commanded to leave the house immediately. He accordingly set out, hardly knowing where he went. At last, he reached a brook where he stretched himself and wept bitterly. He grieved that he was banished from the house of his benefactor, Squire Allworthy, whose love and affection he had lost for ever. Secondly, he had to bid farewell to Sophia forever. While he was brooding over, such thoughts, the bank notes which were given by Squire Allworthy fell down from his pocket without his knowledge. When Tom's sorrow had, to some extent, abated, he went to an inn and wrote a letter to Sophia, telling her that he was going away from her forever and that she should forget him. In the meantime, Black George found the bank notes lying by the side of the brook and put them in his pocket. When Tom came out of the inn, he met Black George. Both went to the bank of the brook to search for the missing notes, but it was all in vain as the notes were already in the pocket of George. Tom requested George to carry his letter to Sophia.

      When Sophia received the letter, she felt very much for Tom and, at once, sent him sixteen guineas, which was all the money she had with her.

Critical Analysis

      In this book, the characters of Mrs. Western and Mrs. Honour are developed. Mrs. Western is a typical eighteenth-century housewife—"a perfect mistress of manners, customs, ceremonies and fashions." The central theme of this book is the love affair which is the result of the courtship of Sophia by Blifil. Though Tom and Blifil aspire for the hand of Sophia, Blifil succeeds, for the time being but his motive is materialistic. He wants the lady's property and fortune rather than her love. Squire Allworthy sends a confirmation of this matrimonial proposal to Squire Western. There is a contrast between Western and Squire Allworthy. There is an additional contrast between Mrs. Western's morality and the rustic morality of her brother. Tom is expelled by Allworthy, who acts on the report of Thwackum and Blifil. Tom decides to try his fortunes in London. Fielding has, so far, dealt with the life in Somersetshire. In order to provide variety and a new center of interest for the reader, he shifts the scene to the highways leading to London and, later on, he will describe the life in London itself.

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