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MonkeyNotes-Tom Jones by Henry Fielding
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Notes

With nearly every book in this novel, the tradition of the usage of the first chapter as 'comments on life' is common. In the first chapter of Book Seven, Fielding compares the world with a stage. In doing this he uses examples of the characters in the book.

Jones is now in a little town away from Allworthy's estate. He still hopes that the Squire will revoke his judgment but instead he receives a curt letter from Blifil, written on Squire Allworthy's behalf. The letter is condescending and Tom is hurt, angry and sad. It must have needled him further that the Squire did not write himself. Blifil ends the letter with the request that Tom should try and repent as a true Christian. Blifil's tone is always an elevated one. He believes that he is superior when in realty his 'morality' is hypocritical. Tom is much more of a Christian and this we learn as we go through the entire story.

While Tom is generous and humane, he is also a trifle childish. He is yet to grow up. Hurt and angry about Squire Allworthy's response, he decides to leave the country immediately and go to sea. Here he behaves like a little naughty boy, who has been reprimanded, for his rowdiness.

While Tom is making such plans, Sophia is having a tough time. Lady Western lectures Sophia on the concept of nobility and morality. Sophia is polite to her aunt and yet, very firm about the fact that she cannot marry a man she hates. Sophia's logic is simple and intelligent. She displays a keen mind and an open heart. Lady Western, on the other hand, for all her talk about emancipation is tied to hypocritical values and ways of life. She is greatly angered at Sophia's polite argumentativeness.

We notice that both the elder Westerns - the Squire and his sister are very demanding and authoritative. Both like to have their own way and are extremely restless when others do not agree to their particular opinions.

Lady Western vents her anger about Sophia, on Squire Western instead. Squire Western is equally rude and blunt, with the result that Lady Western leaves the house. Their basic ideas clash and more than that, each one thinks that he/she knows best. They keep forcing their own ideas on each other. Lady Western is especially tiring because of her snobbishness and her arrogance. It is apparent that she does not think much about her brother.


One whole chapter is devoted to Squire Western and also to a description of his late wife. Squire Western is a coarse man and it is quite surprising that he has such a delicate daughter. Fielding has a great understanding of human nature and the manner in which he describes Squire Western's affection for his daughter is accurate in psychological terms.

Sophia comes across as a 'proper' young lady who is rightly grateful and accurately thankful. She defends her aunt to Squire Western and urges her father to get her back home. We are told that Sophia lacks ‘worldly’ woman-sense though.

Squire Western values money and fortune. On hearing that Lady Western would have left her estate for him, he agrees to go after his sister. After retrieving his sister, the squire and she plan to be more rigid with Sophia. Sophia in the meanwhile mopes for her Tom in characteristic romantic style. Sophia is force to meet Blifil. Blifil is once again vain enough to think that Sophia is quite nice to him. He tries to paint a rosy picture to Squire Western and Squire Allworthy, because he does not want to lose the benefits he can gain by marrying Sophia.

The reader is allowed a peep into Blifil's mind and we see how selfish he really is. It is a pity that the two elder Squires cannot see through Blifil's ploy, but then the story would not have developed.

Mrs. Honour now starts playing a key role. It is she who informs Sophia about Squire Western's hurried plans. Sophia now makes a very bold decision to leave her father's house. For all of Sophia's sensitivity, she is really quite a strong woman. Mrs. Honour too decides to accompany her but not after she has weighed the pros and cons carefully.

Once again, Fielding triumphs in the way he builds a series of coincidences together. Mrs. Honour succeeds in getting herself thrown out of the house by picking up a quarrel with Lady Western's chambermaid. This is advantageous to Sophia as it fits with their plans to leave the house.

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