The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling

The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling Summary and Analysis of Book 11


Chapter 1

The narrator returns to the subject of critics, saying that if they condemn without mercy they are “no better than a common slanderer” (505). He considers a book to be the author’s offspring, and says therefore that criticism of the same is like a personal attack. Also, he notes that if a book is roundly criticized due to nitpicky complaints over minor elements of the text, then all authors will be condemned at some point.

Chapter 2

Sophia, Honour and the guide speed up when they realize they are being followed, but they soon discover the other party to be strikingly similar to their own. Sophia is thrown from her horse when trying to offer the other lady a handkerchief, and the other lady is revealed to be Harriet Fitzpatrick, Sophia’s cousin, who has fled from her husband. The party arrives exhausted at an inn, and the servants and ladies retire together. The landlord suspects that Sophia is the leader of the Jacobite rebellion, one Jenny Cameron.

Chapter 3

The two ladies awake and agree to recount their respective stories of imprisonment, escape and pursuit.

Chapter 4

The ladies reminisce on childhood times they spent at Mrs. Western’s, They laugh over the former names they had for each other: Harriet Was Miss Giddy and Sophia was Miss Graveairs. Mrs. Fitzpatrick relates her life story. She had married a handsome Irishman, Mr. Fitzpatrick, who had first courted her aunt and then pursued her. His motives were never pure, but were instead financial. When she married him, Mrs. Western disowned her. Mrs. Fitzpatrick bemoans the fact that she took the popularity of Mr. Fitzpatrick as indication of his goodness.

Chapter 5

Mrs. Fitzpatrick continues her story.

The Fitzpatricks stayed in Bath for two weeks, and then Mr. Fitzpatrick wanted to return to Ireland. Soon before that, she discovered a letter that revealed his pursuit of the Western women was motivated by greed. Mrs. Fitzpatrick confronts her husband with this information, and he becomes more affectionate, which convinces her to accompany him to Ireland. His mansion there is a gloomy place and she begins to hate both the home and the husband.

Chapter 6

The landlord interrupts Mrs. Fitzpatrick’s narrative with news that someone of interest has arrived. Because Sophia assumes this to be her father, she is visibly relieved to learn they are French soldiers recently landed to aid the rebellion. The landlord takes her reaction as confirmation that she is indeed the rebel Jenny Cameron.

Chapter 7

Mrs. Fitzpatrick continues her story.

Her husband was jealous of her intellect, especially when her company was preferred to his. There was tension between them for a year, during which time Mrs. Fitzpatrick wrote three letters of appeal to her aunt in a bid to repair their relationship. When Mr. Fitzpatrick voyaged to England, leaving her alone, she spent her time with one of his female cousins, who confessed to her that Mr. Fitzpatrick kept a mistress. This made her hate her husband all the more, but she was pregnant by him and she did not want to lose the child by leaving him. When he returned and was again affectionate, she discovered his motivation was the desire to sell some of her land to cover his debts. She refused, and revealed that she knew about the mistress. Mr. Fitzpatrick turned his cousin out for revealing the affair and confined his wife to her room. When he later left again, she bribed a servant to let her go, and he soon after left in pursuit of her. Sophia upbraids her cousin for marrying an Irishman, but she says the problem is not his nationality, but his foolishness.

Chapter 8

Sophia tells her tale, omitting Tom Jones from the account. Honour bursts in, furious that the landlord believes Sophia to be Jenny Cameron.

A gentleman arrives, and is revealed to be the man who helps Mrs. Fitzpatrick escape Ireland. Mrs. Fitzpatrick explains to him she is now travelling with Sophia to London as she too is fleeing confinement. He agrees to see them to London in his coach.

Chapter 9

Sophia discovers that she has lost the hundred pounds given to her by her father. However, she remains cheerful and leaves a present for the landlord. The narrator says that the reader is to decide what has made the landlord so pleased with his guests. They travel to London, and arrive there safely.

Chapter 10

Sophia stays with Mrs. Fitzpatrick but is keen to get to Lady Bellaston, the family friend she hopes will help her. She sees her cousin’s virtue as questionable, as Mrs. Fitzpatrick is clearly looking for a man to replace her husband. The two ladies are therefore mutually pleased to quit each other’s company. Sophia receives a warm welcome by Lady Bellaston.


Fielding passionately believes that criticism should be fair and not personally motivated. He uses a quotation from Shakespeare’s Othello to indicate his belief in the importance of reputation. In the same way he believes a character or person should be judged in total and not for individual qualities, the narrator requests that a book and its writer should not be condemned wholesale for objections to individual ideas or chapters. He makes a wry comment on the state of humanity should the views of certain critics be adhered to: “no author will be saved in this world, and no man in the next” (509).

This Book delves a bit more into the politics of the day, as the landlord believes Sophia to be the famous rebel, Jenny Cameron. Both the landlord and landlady are happy to change their political allegiance as they are so engaged with Sophia's demeanor. Fielding here gently highlights the fickle nature of some people's political affiliations.

Marriage continues to be one of Fielding's satirical targets, though he in this Book depicts it as subject to more flaws than just greed. Harriet’s account of her marriage reveals that she married not really for love but for reputation. She admired her husband's popularity and was blind to his behavior and true character.

There are interesting connections between Sophia and Harriet. Both have been confined for disobeying their masters – Sophia her father and Harriet her husband. Harriet’s desire to find another man to support her now that she is apart from her husband may seem immoral to Sophia, but, as a woman without means or family links at this time, there would be few favorable options for her. Sophia can remain judgmental only because her circumstances allow it. Even when oppressed, Sophia has it better than some.

The former nicknames of Harriet and Sophia – Miss Giddy and Miss Graveairs - illustrate the core of their characters and are the sorts of names which would be attributed to such characters had they been in comic drama. It is unnecessary for them to have such epithets in the novel, as they are more rounded in their representation (Sophia in particular) and are closer to real people than simple flat characters. However, Fielding reminds us of his wit for comedy through these names.

The power of money is illustrated in this Book, with Harriet’s release being facilitated by “gold, the common key to all padlocks” (536). The narrator comments on the strength of money compared to physical power – “gold is found to be more irresistible than either lead or steel.” It is a simple comment that resonates throughout the novel, although in other sections money becomes the steel that imprisons a woman (Sophia), rather than rescues her as is the case with Harriet.

An interesting reminder is issued to the reader in chapter 9, when we are encouraged to draw together pieces of evidence regarding the disappearance of Sophia’s banknote and the happiness of the landlord with his present. The reader is gently prodded to action with the comment that “we shall not indulge thy laziness but thy own attention is required” (546). The cleverness of this comment derives from the fact that the loss of the banknote is not at all connected to the happy landlord: the reader has to remain focused for much longer to ascertain its whereabouts. Indicating the importance of the loss, however, helps to keep the incident in the reader’s mind, which is a useful device as the note is instrumental in Tom and Sophia being reunited. It also fits well within Fielding's general purpose: to keep his audience entertained above all else.