Study Guide

Tom Jones Book 1, Chapter 6

By Henry Fielding

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Book 1, Chapter 6

Mrs. Wilkins Is Introduced into the Parish With a Simile. A Short Account of Jenny Jones, With the Difficulties and Discouragements Which May Attend Young Women in the Pursuit of Learning

  • Because Mrs. Wilkins is a servant to Squire Allworthy, she likes to bully the people even lower down than she is on the social ladder. What a sweetie.
  • As she swoops into Squire Allworthy's village, all the poor residents hide themselves from her.
  • She goes straight to the house of an elderly woman in the village.
  • Together, the two of them try to figure who among the girls in the village might be the mother of this baby.
  • They decide that it must be Jenny Jones.
  • Mrs. Wilkins remembers that Jenny Jones has been spending a lot of time at Squire Allworthy's house lately.
  • In fact, she was there the day before Squire Allworthy returned home! (This must be suspicious!)
  • Mrs. Wilkins demands to see Jenny.
  • She accuses Jenny of being the mother of a bastard.
  • Jenny admits that she is the one who left the baby in Squire Allworthy's bed.
  • The villagers (who have all gathered around to watch the commotion) join Mrs. Wilkins in shouting insults at Jenny Jones.
  • Mrs. Wilkins rushes to tell Squire Allworthy the news.
  • (In addition to being a wealthy landowner, Squire Allworthy is also the local magistrate (a "magistrate" is a small-time, local judge).
  • So Mrs. Wilkins wants Squire Allworthy to treat Jenny Jones as a criminal.)
  • Bridget and Squire Allworthy are both shocked that Jenny is the child's mother because they have always had a good opinion of her.
  • Squire Allworthy tells Mrs. Wilkins to bring Jenny to him.
  • Mrs. Wilkins and the villagers want Squire Allworthy to send Jenny to a "House of Correction."
  • (A "house of correction" was a kind of minimum-security prison for low-level criminal offenders, beggars, and homeless people.)
  • According to English law back in the day, poor people sent to these houses of correction could be forced to work as punishment for their petty crimes.

Tom Jones Book 1, Chapter 6 Study Group

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