Study Guide

Tom Jones Book 17, Chapter 4

By Henry Fielding

Book 17, Chapter 4

An Extraordinary Scene Between Sophia and Her Aunt

  • The narrator uses the (kind of creepy) image of a doe escaping from the forest into the world of man and getting hunted down and eaten, no matter how she tries to escape, to describe Sophia's current marital situation.
  • (Again, we're just going to take a second to draw attention to the extreme ickiness of that comparison. Sophia on the marriage market = doe getting hunted to death. Marriage in the eighteenth century must really have been a treat.)
  • So, as soon as Sophia thinks that she has escaped Mr. Blifil, this new guy (Lord Fellamar) becomes a serious threat.
  • Mrs. Western informs Sophia that Lord Fellamar is coming by that afternoon.
  • Mrs. Western thinks it's dishonoring her family name not to accept such a great match.
  • Mrs. Western threatens that, if Sophia won't see Lord Fellamar this afternoon, than Mrs. Western will throw her back to Squire Western the next day.
  • Sophia tells her aunt straight out that Lord Fellamar grabbed her and put his hand on her breast.
  • It was only Squire Western's arrival that prevented him from assaulting her further.
  • Mrs. Western can't believe that Lord Fellamar had any bad intentions.
  • So Sophia tries another method to get Mrs. Western to leave her alone about this.
  • She reminds Mrs. Western that she has always boasted that she had tons of suitors as a young woman, and she broke all their hearts.
  • One of them even had a title.
  • How can Mrs. Western ask Sophia to marry a man for his title when she herself refused to?
  • Mrs. Western immediately starts talking about her own (probably made-up) charms when she was young.
  • Sophia flatters her so much that Mrs. Western agrees that Sophia has the right to be distant to Lord Fellamar.
  • Mrs. Western even stays in the room with Sophia and Lord Fellamar when he visits that afternoon.
  • So things are looking up for Sophia.