Essay about A Double Standard for Men and Women in Tom Jones

For this project, I will be summarizing three different articles that pertain to the argument that there is an apparent double standard for what is acceptable behavior in men versus women in Tom Jones. In addition to summarizing these articles, I will also be adding my own views and comments throughout this paper.

The first article is by April London, entitled Controlling the Text: Women in Tom Jones. London begins by stating that Fielding uses a metaphor between property and women throughout the text in Tom Jones. She states that “Fielding plays with the multiple meanings of property, undercutting the equation of female and helplessness, to offer versions of power unconstrained by gender which are. . . contradicted by . . . Sophia’s subordination [at] the novel’s happy ending” (323). London argues that although Fielding seems to put aside the gender bias, he actually enforces it by the way his character Sophia changes at the end of the novel. I think this is an interesting observation that has some merit. London does a good job of providing examples to reinforce her argument.

London claims that throughout the novel Sophia steps over the bounds of authority in order to maintain her own integrity, something rather uncommon for women to do back in the 18th century. The most outright example of this, of course, is when Sophia refuses to marry Blifil and runs away after her father locks her in her room, intending to keep her there until the day of the wedding. London says that “the structure of authority . . . arose from property” (325) and that Sophia is testing her father’s power of acquisition of that property. Because she decides to place herself in her aunt’s care, Sophia takes control of her own life.


…’ than females and allowed them (unofficially, at least) more sexual freedom than it permitted women” (7).

Again, Fielding seems to maintain a double standard for what is acceptable behavior in men versus women. This is highlighted through endless examples and situations throughout the novel which would provide formidable arguments for anyone who sought to argue otherwise.


Works Cited

Carlton, Peter J. “The Mitigated Truth: Tom Jones’s Double Heroism.” Studies in the Novel XIX, no. 4 (Winter 1987) : 397-409.

Fielding, Henry. Tom Jones. New York: Bantam. 1997.

Koppel, Gene S. “Sexual Education and Sexual Values in Tom Jones: Confusion at the Core?” Studies in the Novel XII, no. 1 (Spring 1980) : 1-11.

London, April. “Controlling the Text: Women in Tom Jones.” Studies in the Novel XIX, no. 3 (Fall 1987): 323-333.

You Might Also Like