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MonkeyNotes-Tom Jones by Henry Fielding
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Notes

The first two chapters are entirely devoted to Sophia and her description. Fielding seems to follow the tradition of putting in his comments in the first chapter of a new Book. Here, the first chapter is devoted to the style that he thinks should be used to introduce the heroine Sophia. Fielding can get a little tiring in his elaborate similes and accounts.

We notice that Sophia is the only character to be introduced with such pomp and show. Two whole chapters are devoted to her introduction, her external and internal self. She is undoubtedly the heroine of the story and our narrator seems to be excessively fond of her. It was believed that she was styled after one of Fielding's real life loves. Going by the attention Fielding gives her we tend to agree. The only thing that Sophia seems to be lacking is a certain sense of ease. She is very much in control and deeply principled, not that these values need be condemned.

We read a little incident of the past. It involves Blifil, Tom and Sophia when they are kids. This small event itself says a lot about the respective characters of all the three. Here in this chapter we see how Fielding is a master of the art of interpolation between past and present.

We take a peep into the past and are then back again to the present. Since the freeing of her little bird, Sophia had taken a dislike to Blifil. This hatred deepens with the progression of years and it remains in her mind as something that can never be erased. For Tom, on the other hand, she slowly develops a deep affection and abiding love.


In the fourth chapter, we see how the adults react differently to the little bird incident. Squire Western only thinks about his daughter and does not approve of Blifil's action. His is a good natured and simple disposition. He adores his daughter, so anything done to make her unhappy is wrong. Thwackum and Square are not that simple in their thinking. Both think that Blifil is right as he frees a bird and speaks eloquently about freedom. Squire Allworthy does not make any comment and only intervenes to take the two disputing scholars away, in order to end the fight.

The narrative now adopts a youthful turn. Sophia's state of mind regarding Tom is described. The youngsters are no longer kids and are old enough to be in ‘love’. While Sophia starts falling in love with Tom, he doesn't have such a disposition. He respects and admires her self and her breeding but has no romantic pretensions to her. The author adds a comment to the effect that Tom is foolish not to notice the charms of Sophia. She, on the other hand, has her heart fluttering whenever he comes close to her!

Soon, we learn why Tom is not so charmed by Sophia. That is because, he is attracted to a young girl - Molly Seagrim, who seduces him, without his knowing that he is the one who has been seduced. Fielding does a convincing job of describing Tom's state of mind. Tom is a young man who has his hormones peaking and he is spontaneous enough to express his passion with an obliging young maid. But, his passion is not a lustful one alone. He mingles feelings of pity, sympathy, and gratitude to assume the shape of love.

In the seventh chapter, is presented a loud, brash village incident. Molly, Tom's love, is a young girl, possessing all the little vanities that such possess. She decides to attend Sunday Mass in a gown given to her family by Sophia. On discovering the well-dressed woman among them to be Molly, they begin to laugh and taunt her. This goes on to take the form of a full- fledged physical fight between the taunters on one side and Molly on the other. This fight is presented in the next chapter.

We see the change in the note of the description. Tom and Sophia, our main characters have grown up and now the real content of the story starts forming. We also note that Tom's passionate disposition is not evil, but is sometimes too impetuous for his own good. At the same time, he is no hypocrite and comes to Molly's aid, in front of all the villagers. He helps to extract her from the mud and protects her decency.

Sophia on the other hand lives in a sheltered and polite world. Tom is a man and is allowed to roam around and he gets his hands soiled in the process!

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