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MonkeyNotes-Tom Jones by Henry Fielding
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Book Eight

Chapters 1 - 8

Summary

Fielding begins book eight by writing about the role of the supernatural in ‘writing’ and about the limits of probability.

After the departure of the soldiers, the landlady visits Tom. She tells him that she knows Sophia and even praises her charm. Sophia had apparently praised Tom to the landlady. She goes on to say that she knows Squire Allworthy too.

The surgeon comes to meet Tom and insists on bleeding him. Tom refuses and the surgeon goes to speak to the landlady. She warns him that Tom might not pay him and indeed the young man refuses to pay the rude doctor.

Jones starts feeling better and asks a barber to attend to him. The barber turns out to be an interesting persona who even knows Latin. Tom is not looked after by the landlady and is not given a decent room. The landlady gossips about Tom's history and the barber too learns Tom's name and the fact that he is related to Squire Allworthy. Mr. Benjamin, the barber has a glass of wine with Jones after dinner. He tells Jones that he had once been a gentleman and that he knew Squire Allworthy. Tom relates to this man whatever had happened to him and talks about his misfortunes.

The barber gives Tom some books to read. The next morning, it is suggested to Tom, that the barber is a good surgeon too. Tom calls the barber and asks him to dress his wound. The barber surgeon aids Tom and then relates a surprising tale to him. He tells Tom that he is Partridge and that Tom is not his son. He then asks Tom's permission to attend him in the latter's journey. Tom admits that he does not have enough money to give Partridge.


Partridge says that he does not need the money immediately and that Tom will surely run into money later. So, it is decided that Partridge shall accompany Tom. It is then explained as to exactly why Partridge wished to accompany Tom. He hoped to benefit by urging Tom back to Squire Allworthy. Jones on the other hand believes that Partridge wishes to accompany him solely out of a feeling of love and goodwill.

The landlady and her husband fight over Tom. The landlady's husband claims that Tom is a gentleman. The next morning Partridge arrives and is all set to leave with Tom. The two leave the public house. Jones and Partridge travel to Gloucester.

They lodge at a house that has the sign of the Bell. The landlady is Mrs. Whitefield, a good-looking lady. Here, Tom meets an attorney of Salisbury, whose name is Dowling. There is also another person who styles himself as a lawyer. This is Pettiflogger. He relates vicious tales about Tom, which are not true. Mrs. Whitefield is shocked by Tom's reputation. Her impression of Tom is made worse by the fact that Partridge, who is supposedly Tom's servant, claims to be as good a gentleman as Tom himself.

So, Mrs. Whitefield's attitude to Tom becomes very cold. She treats Tom as a sorry 'scoundrel' and the latter never guesses the reasons behind her having behaved thus. He decides to leave the inn immediately and so Partridge accompanies him.

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