A Double Standard for Men and Women in Tom Jones

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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 . . .…show more content…
This double standard is actually stated and "justified" by another woman, which accurately highlights the way of thinking in the 18th century that Fielding evidently recognized. Later, when Molly is found to be pregnant, Allworthy lectures Tom much in the same way he lectured Jenny Jones years ago, but according to Carlton, Fielding "minimizes its impact in Tom's case" (399). These two instances are a few of many examples of this double standard for men and women. Carlton sums up the view of women when he states, Fielding relies on . . . the traditional view of women, implicit in the fact that it is always the woman who is the aggressor in Tom's affairs . . . women are perceived as either "purer" than they are or more sexually ravenous than they are (the familiar ‘virgin/whore' polarization), but never simply as they are. At one extreme, they are seen as semidivine beings . . . at the other, women are portrayed as insatiable sinks of lust (399-400). Sophia and Lady Bellaston seem to represent these two extremes precisely. Sophia is often referred to with heavenly and divine inferences, while Lady Bellaston is the instigator of an on-going affair with Tom. Tom is viewed as an innocent bystander who falls victim to ‘an evil temptress' of sorts. Carlton tells us that another critic, Battestin,

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