Table of Contents | Message Board | Printable Version
In the eighth chapter, we learn of Sophia's generosity. On seeing pretty Molly in the church, and the jealous eyes upon her, Sophia decides to offer her a job as her maid. She informs Black George of this offer. But, instead of being happy, he is in a tizzy, as he has just learned of Molly’s pregnancy. He is in a fix about how he will put the matter in front of Sophia. So, he returns home to inform his wife and to form a plan of action with her. But, he finds his house in an uproar - with all the women fighting. The cause of the argument is none other than Molly herself. And, now is recounted an unpleasant incident at the church. After the members of the upper class community had left, all the villagers had gathered around Molly to insult her. But, she is not a docile woman herself and she defended herself with her tongue as well as her body. There resulted quite a muddy battle, which did considerable violence to her dress and body.
Fortunately, Blifil, Square and Tom together pass the courtyard and seeing the disorder, Tom comes to Molly's rescue. It is quite notable that he does not shy from helping her in front of all the villagers. Tom is a true gentleman in this sense and is not a hypocrite. He does come forward to help the woman he loves.
At Molly's house, her mother and sisters once again insult her. We notice the coarse language that the Seagrims use. This can be contrasted with the speech of the higher ups such as that of Squire Allworthy's family. Fielding is realistic in his depiction of English life and it's various dialects.
Molly's mother Goody Seagrim is only consoled when Molly gives her a few guineas. Theirs is an extremely poor condition. Fielding paints a broad spectrum, encompassing the rich and the poor.
Meanwhile, Tom goes on foot to his own house and sees Molly there. He takes her in and confesses his guilt to the Squire. While the Squire is very unhappy with Jones' conduct, he is also impressed by Tom's honesty. Indeed, Tom is a straightforward man who does not run away from his deeds. He faces them and accepts his faults, if any. He could have left Molly to her own Fate, but doesn't. His enemies make the most of his mistakes and use the opportunities to condemn him blasphemously. Square is the most poisonous, when he suggests to the Squire that Tom was friendly to Black George, for the sole purpose of having the opportunity to deflower the daughter. Square indeed has a wicked, dirty mind and it is a pity that the Squire listens to such talk.
While Tom is being defiled thus, Sophia is tormented by thoughts of Tom. She realizes her feelings for him and resolves to keep a distance. We see throughout that Sophia often reigns in her passion and tries to be in control of herself always.
But, in the thirteenth chapter, an incident occurs that makes Sophia even more susceptible to the arrows of love. While she is on a horse, the beast starts behaving wildly and she is in danger. Tom comes to her rescue and manages to catch her in his arms as she is thrown off the horseback. He hurts himself too. When Sophia's father comes on to the scene, he is happy that Sophia is not hurt. For him, she is of paramount importance and the wounds of Tom can wait. This incident is a typically chivalrous and romantic one.
They return to the Squire's house and the doctor attends to both Sophia and Tom. Fielding pokes fun at the profession of medicine when he writes how the doctor gives a long lecture on broken bones. Tom is shown as a brave and magnanimous young man, while Sophia is the quintessential delicate darling. Tom impresses most women - young, old, poor or rich. Mrs. Honour too appreciates his beauty and charm. She praises Tom to Sophia and this does have an effect on the latter. Sophia is inwardly very happy when Mrs. Honour tells her that Tom had kissed her muff many a time, on being told that it was the young lady's own. Fielding here develops naturally the circumstances that make Tom and Sophia develop an abiding passion for each other.
A major development has taken place here: the slow maturing of Sophia's affection for Tom into a feeling of love. Another crucial development is that of Tom becoming aware of Sophia in a romantic sense. These two developments form the base of the narrative.