The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling by Henry Fielding: BOOK IV., v.-viii.

Fridays with the Foundling
Tom Jones Original CoverI love the title to Chapter V so much, “Containing matter accommodated to every taste.” Chapter titles are such a lost art (and one I too often ignore even in good books).

To say the Truth, Sophia, when very young, discerned that Tom, though an idle, thoughtless, rattling Rascal, was nobody’s Enemy but his own; and that Master Blifil, though a prudent, discreet, sober young Gentleman, was at the same Time strongly attached to the Interest only of one single Person; and who that single Person was the Reader will be able to divine without any Assistance of ours.

Kinda says it all, doesn’t it? Alas,

as to Design upon her Person he had none; for which we shall at present suffer the Reader to condemn him of Stupidity

He treats her well, and seems to regard her with more respect than any others, but he doesn’t think of her “that” way. Still, he’s able to use her regard for him to get Sophia to persuade her father to hire Black George as a game keeper.

Then we get some explanations for why Tom is guilty of Stupidity regarding Sophia—while admiring him for treating her well and not trying to take advantage of her for her father’s money. Part of the reason for it is Black George’s second child, Molly. Molly is described as a good person, good looking, but less than ideally feminine—demonstrated in part by the way she pursues Tom. To Tom’s credit, for modesty’s sake, he avoids her.

There’s some more back and forth with Thwackum and Square about Tom and his morality, I’m not going to get into the details, it’s pretty much the same song, different verse. Technically, Tom’s wrong and they’re right, but his motives and inclinations are admirable and that’s what Allworthy focuses on. I’m not saying it’s not good reading, but it’s getting a bit repetitive.

Fun stuff, I like the way the narrator is so besotted by Sophie that he’s condemning Tom while conceding he’s right about the way he treats her.

Read Irresponsibly, but please Comment Responsibly

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