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

Fridays with the Foundling
Tom Jones Original CoverA couple of bonus chapters to catch up…

We start off with Molly’s mother and sisters attacking her for being with child—an illegitimate child. Molly points to the hypocrisy of her mother—Molly’s oldest sister is 1 week younger than her parent’s marriage. Mom is having none of it. Her parents are trying to push her into Service at the Western’s, but she refuses and in the end, her mother will take the position. Molly’s refusal is because she’s convinced that her “Gentleman” will provide for her and the child much better.

The next night, Tom dines with Sophie, Squire Western and the local Parson. The Parson goes on about Molly and her condition, going on about the Bastard she’s carrying. Tom leaves the meal in a haste, prompting Squire Western to opine that Tom’s the father. This shows Sophie her true feelings about Tom while the Parson regrets the way this will lower Tom in Allworthy’s view.

Molly is about to be taken to a house of correction over her pregnancy when Tom claims the child as his own and begs for mercy from Mr. Allworthy. Allworthy relents and sends her home to her parents, lectures Tom and then goes off by himself for an evening of “melancholy Contemplation.” He’s a man of high morals and is horribly disappointed in Tom’s actions—but

whatever Detestation Mr. Allworthy had to this or to any other Vice, he was not so blinded by it but that he could discern any Virtue in the guilty Person, as clearly indeed as if there had been no Mixture of Vice in the same Character. While he was angry therefore with the Incontinence of Jones, he was no less pleased with the Honour and Honesty of his Self-accusation. He began now to form in his Mind the same Opinion of this young Fellow, which, we hope, our Reader may have conceived. And in balancing his Faults with his Perfections, the latter seemed rather to preponderate.

Nevertheless, Square takes this opportunity to twist and spin these events to convince Allworthy that Tom has only been Black George’s friend in order to corrupt Molly, and succeded to stamp “in the Mind of Allworthy the first bad Impression concerning Jones.”

Sophie is now battling with herself, resolved not to have anything to do with Tom any more and to stop loving him—she falls for him again and again every time she sees him. So she tries to avoid him, even coming up with a plan to visit her Aunt.

But Fortune, who had other Designs in her Head, put an immediate Stop to any Proceeding, by introducing an Accident, which will be related in the next Chapter.

What brings her to this accident? Well…

Mr. Western grew every Day fonder and fonder of Sophia, insomuch that his beloved Dogs themselves almost gave Place to her in his Affections; but as he could not prevail on himself to abandon these, he contrived very cunningly to enjoy their Company, together with that of his Daughter, by insisting on her riding a hunting with him.

While hunting, her horse got a little whiled and she was almost thrown from it. Tom arrives in the nick of time and catches her before she falls (and is likely trampled). He breaks his arm doing so, but shrugs off the injury.

Sophie stops fighting her feelings for Tom and Tom realizes that he has some for her.

There’s a whole lot of words involved in progressing things just a hair—but the best parts of this book isn’t so much about the story, but about the way that Fielding is telling it. As such, there’s a whole lot to enjoy in this part of the journey. Nothing as enjoyable as in some weeks, nothing as dull as in others—just a lot of pleasantness. Works for me.

3 thoughts on “The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling by Henry Fielding: BOOK IV., ix.-xiv.

  1. It’s fun to read about an old-fashioned courtship, isn’t it? Where the protagonists don’t jump into bed together on the first date, but instead spend a lot of time finding out about each other. In the process, the reader gets to find out a lot more about each of them also. No one-dimensional cartoon protagonists in Fielding! (although some of the minor characters are toons.)

    Liked by 1 person

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