Study Guide

Tom Jones Book 16, Chapter 5

By Henry Fielding

Book 16, Chapter 5

In Which Jones Receives a Letter From Sophia

  • Here is the answer Sophia sends in response to Tom's chicken-letter:
  • Sophia reassures him that she is now a (sort of) free woman, thanks to Mrs Western.
  • However, she has also promised Mrs. Western that she won't see anyone without her aunt's permission.
  • And she plans to keep that promise.
  • She always keeps her promises, which should make Tom happy.
  • She tells Tom that she cannot marry without her father's agreement.
  • So he should give up on Sophia forever.
  • Maybe, if he does this, he'll be able to make up with Squire Allworthy.
  • She hopes they both get a little luckier in the future.
  • She ends her letter by (a) asking Tom not to write again, and (b) returning that hundred-pound bank note to Tom.
  • Tom is happy that Sophia is free, and that she's with someone who will probably keep her comfortable (Mrs. Western).
  • He is also happy that she makes reference to her promises, since he assumes she is referring to her promise never to marry another man.
  • He spends three hours reading and re-reading (and kissing, of course) Sophia's letter.
  • Finally, he heads out for his evening date: he's going to Shakespeare's Hamlet with Partridge, Mrs. Miller, and her younger daughter Betsy.
  • Partridge spends the whole play commenting on the action.
  • (To get the jokes in this section, it would be helpful to check out this summary of the play.)
  • The ghost in the play makes Partridge's knees knock in fear.
  • He knows it's acting, but on the other hand, he kind of doesn't.
  • Partridge's comments make Tom, Mrs. Miller, and everyone in hearing distance laugh.
  • After the play, as Mrs. Miller and Partridge are talking, Mrs. Fitzpatrick approaches Tom.
  • She says she has news that Tom will want to hear.
  • She tells Tom her home address.
  • Tom promises to come and see her the next afternoon.
  • Memories of Hamlet's ghost keep Partridge awake for many nights after this.