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ENL 4122
English Novel

Spring 2005
Time: Monday and Wednesday
11:00 - 12:15 pm

Class 11

Reading Assignment:

Feb. 15 Tom Jones Books XVI-XVIII, through then end
    Post #5 (Group B)
    Historical Annotation: Kimberly Fielding-Maddison's presentation


Class Objectives:

  • To discuss the conclusion of the narrative
  • To discuss marriage decisions -- mostly for Jones!
  • To discuss the marriage of Tom and Sophia


Notes and Discussion Questions:

1. Narrative Conclusion

In Book XVII, chapter one, the narrator despairs of bringing the story to a conclusion. Why? Wherein does the irony of Fielding's statement lie? How does this narrative control (or lack of control) relate to issues of chance becoming direction and divine providence?

Jones' crimes (or apparent crimes) escalate in this last section of the novel to include murder and incest. What is the significance of the narrative representation of these crimes, particularly since Jones in fact commits neither?

At what point does the issue of reputation and honor (in this instance the masculine or male version of honor) shift in favor of Jones and against Blifil? What must happen in order for this shift to occur? What role does Mrs. Miller play? What role does Allworthy play?


2. Marriage decisions

Before Jones can marry Sophia, several other marriage proposals are offered. Consider the motivations, wisdom and ultimate significance of the following rejected marriage partners in the story:

Sophia and Blifil

Sophia and Fellamar

Lady Bellaston and Jones

Mrs. Hunt and Jones

Mrs. Western and Jones

Mrs. Fitzpatrick and Jones

Mrs. Waters and Mr. Fitzpatrick

Mrs. Waters and NOT Jones

Miss Bridget Allworthy and Summers

Compare these with those marriage represented as successful in the narrative. What ultimate significance does the narrative place on the role of money in marriage (remember the ANDERSONS!)


3. Sophia takes Jones for better or worse

Fielding takes great pains to distinguish love from lust and other self-interested motivations in this novel. If the novel is centrally concerned with questions of love, then what do Tom’s serial love affairs reveal? Analyze his “progress” from Molly Seagrim, to Mrs. Waters and Lady Bellaston. What does his marriage to Sophia indicate at the end of the novel?

How do you understand Sophia's reluctance to marry Tom? How do you understand Tom's new found fidelity and constancy?

In what sense has Tom gained "wisdom" (or prudence) by the end of the novel?


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