Feb. 1 Tom Jones Books IV-VI, through p. 210
Post #3 (Group B)
Historical Annotation: Michelle Carey presentation
- To compare the Molly Seagrim and Sophia Western
- To compare Tom Jones and Blifil
- To consider the question: What makes the figure of a bastard child so interesting/
troubling in eighteenth-century novels?
Notes and Discussion Questions:
Before we begin today's reading questions, we will return to the discussion of
the narrator's purpose -- specifically as outlined in his dedicatory letter on page
7. In conjunction with Tucker's post, we will consider how Fielding represents the inner
and outer qualities of a character. Does the outer representation of character serve as a
true measure of the inner character? If not, how do we judge a person? This is a central
problem the novel takes up over and over again. See also book III. chap. VIII.
Note how the author ascribes beauty to virtue. Is this an outer beauty or an inner beauty?
Can they ever be confused?
Also we will return to Allworthy's view of LOVE because this, too, is important for the
development of the plot. See three posts.
1. Molly Seagrim and Sophia Western
Tom Jones is thematically unified by the question of how one makes a valid
judgment. The novel begins with Allworthy's judgment of Jenny Jones and of Tom Jones in two
separate "crimes." Fielding's narrative structure highlights the readers' ability to judge
as well, as he draws you into a story of half-truths, understatements and hyperbole. He tests
the readers ability to read carefully.
See page 138 the opening chapter of Book V on contrast. Note how this parallel returns us
to the issue of outer beauty / inner beauty.
If, as Samuel Johnson would say, all judgment is comparative, than Fielding provides us many
opportunities to practice our judgment in this section. We will focus on the comparisons among
the four chief "lovers" of this section: Molly, Sophia, Tom and Blifil.
How does the narrator introduce Sophia? What is the effect of this?
Why is Sophia inclined toward TJ and not Blifil?
How is Molly Seagrim described? (Compare the narrator's use of the mock-epic mode in the Molly
Why, THEN, is TJ NOT inclined toward Sophia? What is "gallantry" and what role does it play in
How can TJ love Sophia but "cavort" with Molly?
Given the attitudes toward FORNICATION described by Allworthy (and evident in the laws discussed by
Staves), what happens to our "fornicators"? How does the narrator treat this "sin"?
Examine Fielding's representation of Sophia's love as a disease (p. 130). What does the metaphor
suggest about her "condition"?
2. Tom Jones and Blifil
Early on Sophia discerns the differences between Tom Jones and Blifil -- how does she assess them?
After the initial Molly episode, how does TJ feel about Sophia and how do we know? How does he resolve
his conflict of duty toward Molly?
Fielding's depiction of Blifil's "courtship" and the approval he receives from the paternal figures
of the novel creates an ironic tension in the relationship between Sophia and Tom. Why is Blifil
How do each of these male characters respond to Allworthy's impending death? To Mrs. Bridget Allworthy's
What errors lead to Jone's dismissal from Paradise?
With regard to marriage, at this point in the novel, what role does love actually play? What
role does the narrative suggest love SHOULD play and what creates the difference?
What role does class or wealth or status play?
How are marriage decisions different for men than for women in this novel?
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