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Chapters 1 - 7
The author wonders aloud about the concept of love. Mrs. Western, Squire Westernís sister is described. She thinks that she is sharp enough to notice that Sophia is in love with Blifil. Mrs. Western tells her brother what she thinks is true about Sophia. The brother is surprised that his daughter is old enough to be in love, and to be married.
Sophia thinks that her aunt has guessed her affection for Tom. So, she acts as if she likes Blifil more. She overacts her part. Mr. Western, in the meanwhile approaches Squire Allworthy for a match between Sophia & Blifil. Allworthy agrees, as long as the youngsters like each other too. He admires Sophia a great deal.
Allworthy tells Blifil about the proposed match and the young Squire is pleased with the idea of inheriting Squire Westernís large estate. He also acknowledges Sophiaís merit & beauty. Mrs. Western approaches Sophia with the news that her father had proposed the Sophia - Blifil match to Squire Allworthy. Sophia is shocked and confesses to her aunt that she loves Tom instead. Sophia says also that she detests Blifil.
Mrs. Western takes a promise from Sophia that the latter will at least meet Blifil since her appointment with him had been fixed. Mrs. Honour overhears Sophia & Mrs. Western. She tells Sophia that she had seen Tom roam besides the canal that morning. Sophia goes to look for him but is not able to find him. Squire Western tells his daughter himself that he is pleased to find a match for Sophia, of her own liking. Squire Western does not know that Sophia really loves Tom instead. Blifil meets Sophia and though she is very withdrawn and not at all communicative, he thinks that she does like him. Blifil is very optimistic when he meets Squire Western and praises Sophia greatly. Sophia on the other hand was barely able to tolerate the meeting with Blifil. She then tells her father that she cannot possibly marry Blifil. Her father is taken aback by this news and insists on this marriage quite violently. When Tom sees an upset Mr. Western, he inquires what the matter is. On learning the cause, Tom is also shocked. But, he pretends that he would like to meet Sophia and to persuade her to marry Blifil. Squire Western does not realize that Tom had hurried after Sophia for another purpose altogether.
Once again Henry Fielding thinks aloud about a concept. This time, in keeping with the current situation in the novel, the theme is love. Fielding analyses the elements that together constitute love. His analysis is interesting to read and he seems to use the archaic English style.
Now, as the history moves on, allied characters begin to perform important roles. Mrs. Western is responsible for giving rise to the entire Blifil affair. It is she who wrongly suspects that Sophia is in love with Blifil. She informs Sophiaís father and he approaches Squire Allworthy immediately for the match. It is Mrs. Westernís wrong suspicion that gives rise to this entire chain of events. Her insistence on Blifil as a match for Sophia finally edges the young lady on to reveal her secret liking for Tom.
If it hadnít been for Mrs. Westernís role in the affair, Sophia & Tom would have continued in a neutral manner for a longer time. Sophia thinks that her aunt has guessed her liking for Tom. In order to reduce her auntís suspicion, she tries to pretend that she has more interest in Blifil. Her aunt misunderstands her and thinks that Sophia loves Blifil. Squire Western is informed and she spares no time in approaching his neighbor Allworthy. When Aunt Western talks to Sophia about the latter's love life, Sophia thinks that the elder lady is referring to Tom. In reality Lady Western is referring to Blifil. So finally Sophiaís secret passion for Tom is revealed.
Aunt Western is shocked by her niece's choice. The higher circles might consider Tom good company but their opinion ends there. They all still view him as the bastard who was adopted by the Squire and who will have no property to boast of. Therefore he is not a good match for any young lady. Sophia exhibits her good sense when she explains what it is that attracted her to Tom. She recognizes and values Tomís inherent humane qualities. She is able to see through Blifilís gentlemanly exterior. She has an instinctive knowledge of Blifilís selfishness and detests him.
As we can see, her understanding of human nature is quite accurate. Sophia combines beauty with intelligence in her own personality. Mrs. Western promises not to reveal Sophiaís secret, if the latter promises to meet Blifil. So, Sophia does meet Blifil and is naturally, quite withdrawn. Blifilís obnoxious vanity makes him believe that he has been a success with Sophia. This is the biggest misunderstanding of them all. Squire Western is told that Sophia is happy with Blifil. You can imagine this fatherís surprise when Sophia refuses to marry Blifil. The Squire thinks that this refusal arises from womanly modesty and stubbornness. He had thought all this while that he had been fixing Sophia with the man, whom she loved. His natural instinct is to get angry and bully his daughter into doing what he thinks is right.
Tom learns about the Blifil Sophia match and is heart broken. But he displays a keen presence of mind and asks the Squire to let him see Sophia. Mr. Western has no clue that Tom too is attracted to Sophia. He suspects nothing and thinks that Tom will really be trying to persuade Sophia into marrying Blifil. Nothing could have been farther from the truth. It is not surprising then that Mr. Western loses faith in Tom. Later, he shuns the young man's company.
Fielding manages to build events in such a way that they excite the readerís interest. This is true of the incidents in the first half of Book Six.