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Chapter 1 - 6
In the first chapter the narrator merely propounds his theory that virtue is not the certain road to happiness, and vice does not always lead to misery.
In the second chapter we see Lady Bellaston’s deep jealousy towards Sophia. A nobleman, Lady Bellaston, rescues Sophia from an unruly playhouse. He starts paying compliments to Sophia and starts getting enamoured by Sophia’s charm. Lady Bellaston encourages Lord Fellamar in his passion for Sophia. She also tells him about Sophia’s love for a young man-Tom, whom she describes as a beggarly bastard. She invites Lord Fellamar for dinner that night.
At the dinner Lady Bellaston furnishes Tom Edwards, one of the attenders, with a fib to be played upon Sophia. When everyone is engaged at whist, Tom Edwards informs the company that he had seen the body of one Tom Jones, in a coffeehouse. He relates that the man was killed in a duel. Sophia is shocked and faints. Lord Fellamar thus realizes Sophia’s passion for Tom.
Lady Bellaston asks Lord Fellamar to come over the next evening when he can meet Sophia alone and force himself upon her. The Lord doubts the honor of such an act and comes to meet Lady Bellaston the next morning. He wishes to withdraw from such an intended act. Lady Bellaston taunts Lord Fellamar for being weak and encourages him to rape Sophia. She tells him that this is the only way she can see sense and forget the contemptible character of Tom. By challenging his spirit, Lady Bellaston encourages the Lord to commit a heinous crime.
In the fifth chapter, we learn what befalls Sophia. She is alone when Lord Fellamar breaks in upon her. He professes his love for her and she resists. Finally, he takes her into his arms and kisses her neck. While Sophia is protesting, her father’s voice comes booming through the house. He enters the room and shouts at Sophia. The parson tries to calm him but the Squire continues hollering. Lady Bellaston now enters and the Squire complains to her about Sophia refusing an excellent match. Lord Fellamar thinks that he is being referred to.
Mrs. Fitzpatrick had written a letter to Lady Western, revealing that Sophia was in London with Lady Bellaston. Squire Western on receiving this information leaves for London immediately. Lady Western advises him on how he must behave in that city. She then promises him that she too shall come to London. At Lady Bellaston’s house Squire Western is very rude to Lord Fellamar and consequently he leaves. The Squire then takes his daughter away with him. While leaving, the Squire sees Mrs. Honour and reprimands her for having assisted Sophia in running away from home.
In this sixth chapter we learn how the Squire discovered his daughter’s whereabouts.
Notes The author once again begins the Book with his own comments. By doing this he places the immediate events of the narrative against the larger background, of the universe. This book is not just another narrative-it also imparts a moral lesson at occasions. Life’s profundities are condensed into a few lines expertly by the narrator. We enjoy the story because it has a ‘slice of life’ to offer.
In the second chapter, we see Lady Bellaston’s viciousness at work. She is jealous of Sophia and so she plots to remove her from her way. Lady Bellaston encourages Lord Fellamar’s romantic feelings towards Sophia. She does this by telling the Lord about Sophia’s fortune and by praising her person. Lady Bellaston is a woman who knows how to drive a man into doing what she wants. She is able to use the triggers of ego and pride effectively, to her advantage. Her sole aim is to remove Sophia from the path of her love for Tom. Lord Fellamar on the other hand is smitten by Sophia’s charms. Lady Bellaston makes up a story to urge Lord Fellamar to use force with Sophia. Lady Bellaston claims that Sophia is only infatuated with Tom and she would be destroying her own life, if she would insist on running away with him. Lord Fellamar is fooled. Moreover Lady Bellaston thinks up a heinous way of claiming Sophia. This so-called genteel woman of society propounds rape. She even goes so far as to suggest that women sometimes enjoy rape and are not averse to men being forceful. Thus, Lord Fellamar decides to rape Sophia in order to win her. We see that Lady Bellaston’s circle of society is an unscrupulous one. In this circle comic jests are played often and without any remorse.
So on Lady Bellaston’s insistence when a whist group settles down to play, Tom Edwards one of the players, jests that he had seen Tom Jones dead. Sophia is shocked and faints. She is a tender woman who is not familiar with such cruel jokes. There is a great contrast in her behavior and in that of Lady Bellaston’s London friends. Sophia is always faithful to Tom and rarely ever approves of another man. She does not like Lord Fellamar paying compliments to her. She tells Lady Bellaston to keep the Lord away but the Lady teases Sophia, saying that she has sweethearts in her head. Lady Bellaston’s hypocrisy is apparent in contrast to Sophia’s straight forwardness.
Lord Fellamar does try and force himself on Sophia one evening.
Lady Bellaston arranges the scene in such a way that none of the servants can hear Sophia’s screams. Sophia is lucky in that, her father enters the house at just that moment. He had come from the country to London to look for his daughter. Squire Western charges in his usual blustering style. He calls for Sophia loudly and the daughter is thus saved from Lord Fellamar’s clutches.
She is taken away by her father-Squire Western. Fielding uses the past-present interpolation technique in his narrative. The Squire is already in London, but in the sixth chapter of this Book, we learn how he came to be in the city.
Squire Western is a source of wry humor in the novel. He entertains us all with his bluntness and his loud hollahs and bellows. This Squire’s behavior adds color to the narrative, along with Partridge’s contribution. Squire Western is the quintessential countryman and his characterization is excellently done.