Study Guide

Tom Jones Book 16, Chapter 8

By Henry Fielding

Book 16, Chapter 8

Schemes of Lady Bellaston for the Ruin of Jones

  • Lord Fellamar feels too much for Sophia to just let it go, even after her father was so obnoxious to him.
  • He goes to see Lady Bellaston the day after his attempted rape of Sophia.
  • She assures him that Squire Western is a drunken idiot.
  • So Lord Fellamar stops feeling offended by him.
  • Lord Fellamar explains that he's still in love with Sophia.
  • Lady Bellaston reassures Lord Fellamar: she's sure that, when Squire Western sobers up, he'll see what a great match Lord Fellamar is.
  • The only real problem, Lady Bellaston adds, is this fellow Tom Jones.
  • She tells Lord Fellamar where Tom is living.
  • She suggests that Lord Fellamar kidnap Tom and throw him onto a ship.
  • (This is called press-ganging or impressment. It used to be pretty common for the British navy to grab strong-looking guys off the streets and throw them onto ships to make them serve the military against their will. It wasn't technically legal for parts of the eighteenth century. But the navy did it anyway to solve their manpower shortages. We can't imagine how loyal people who were kidnapped off the streets would be, but we guess the British navy didn't care?)
  • Lady Bellaston claims that it's practically Lord Fellamar's duty to send Tom to sea.
  • Otherwise, Tom will ruin Sophia.
  • Lord Fellamar thanks Lady Bellaston for all of this fantastic advice.
  • He gives her permission to speak to Sophia's family on his behalf.
  • Lady Bellaston reminds Lord Fellamar to get rid of Tom and she goes to meet with Mrs. Western.
  • Mrs. Western is so excited that she might catch a rich lord for her niece.
  • Both Lady Bellaston and Mrs. Western agree that Tom is useless; they are very sorry that Sophia is so into him.
  • But Mrs. Western is sure that Sophia will give up all thoughts of Tom now that Lord Fellamar is in the picture.
  • Lady Bellaston tells Mrs. Western that Tom has actually gone so far as to try and seduce her.
  • And she shows Mrs. Western Tom's letter from Book 15, Chapter 9—the one where Tom proposed to her!! (We knew that fake proposal was a dumb idea!)
  • Lady Bellaston is secretly sure that this will be enough to destroy Sophia's relationship with Tom.