Snap’s house. London residence of Mr. Snap the younger, a bailiff. He uses part of his home as a sponging-house, where debtors are imprisoned until they are either bailed out or transported to jail. Since the debtors mix freely with the Snaps and their guests, the house becomes young Jonathan Wild’s college of crime, with a resident tutor, the card sharp and confidence man, Count la Ruse, who has to stay with Snap until he can satisfy his creditors. The house is also significant because it is there that Wild meets Snap’s daughter Laetitia, who convinces him that she is chaste, when in fact it is only Wild whom she will not admit to her bed. This bit of bad luck at Snap’s house indicates that like every other “great” man, Wild has his weaknesses. In the end, it is his arrogance that brings him down.
On another level, Fielding intends Snap’s house to represent the palace or castle where the king might be holding court. At both places, men talk of honor and women of chastity, but nothing really matters except not getting found out. At both places, everyone and everything is for sale; for example, during the eighteenth century, it was well known that one could buy one’s way out of a sponging-house like Snap’s, and it was just as well known that under the Whig prime minister, Sir Robert Walpole, whom Fielding equates with Wild, one could buy one’s way into any post or out of almost any difficulty.
(The entire section is 610 words.)