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MonkeyNotes-Tom Jones by Henry Fielding
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Book Nine

Chapters 1 - 4

Summary

In the first chapter of book nine, Fielding comments on the general art of writing histories such as that of Tom Jones.

While Jones is walking with the ‘Man of the Hill’ he hears the screams of a woman. He rescues this harassed woman from a man intending to rape her. The aggressor turns out to be Ensign Northerton himself. Taking the old man of the hill's advice, Tom leads the rescued woman to Upton. In the meanwhile Ensign Northerton escapes because his feet are not tied up, only his hands are.

When Jones and his lady reach the inn, the master of the House yells at the disheveled woman. He does not want her to go upstairs. But, Tom insists that she be allowed up to a room. Jones goes to get her some clothes. The house is considered 'respectful' and so the tattered looking lady and Tom Jones are looked at with suspicion. The landlady and her husband belittle Tom with insulting words. The argument turns into a physical altercation between Tom and the husband and wife. Partridge joins the battle on Tom's side, while Susan, the chambermaid undertakes to defend her landlady and landlord. The fight is an extremely bloody one and everyone is wounded. At the same time, a coach arrives at the inn and a young lady and her maid alight.

A sergeant and a file of musketeers with a deserter in their custody, too arrive at this inn. The rescued lady seeks comfort from Tom and weeps on his shoulder, in the hall. The sergeant then approaches the lady in distress and asks her if she is Mrs. Waters. The lady agrees that she is and then goes on to praise Tom, for having rescued her. The landlady now apologizes to Mrs. Waters for having insulted her before. Mrs. Waters retires with the landlady in order to dress herself decently. The landlord too makes peace with Jones and matters are one again set to calm.

Partridge accompanies the sergeant and his companions for some drinks, round the kitchen fire. In the meanwhile, Tom is with Mrs. Waters in her room and they have dinner together.


Notes

Fielding is a learned man with an excellent knowledge of psychology. He often practices and fine-tunes his learning in the first chapters of new Books. Once again, the first chapter of Book Nine is devoted to Fielding's own meditations and comments.

Tom had left for a walk with the old man of the Hill. He had scarcely begun to enjoy his walk when he was lunged into another new adventure. He hears screams of a woman and immediately goes to her rescue. Tom is consistently portrayed as a brave, gallant, large hearted young hero. He is never scared of jumping into the thick of fights or of saving someone from distress. In this case it is a middle-aged woman who has her clothes torn off her body by a vicious man. Tom deals with the man quickly and lays him onto the ground within minutes. Tom is a well-muscled hero! The aggressor turns out to be none other than Ensign Northerton. This is good fortune for Tom who had always wanted to take revenge on the Ensign for hitting him wrongly.

Tom ties up the Ensign's hands but not his legs. So despite being heroic, Tom is a trifle careless at times. When Tom goes to see the Old man of the Hill, the Ensign runs away. From the minute the rescued lady lays her eyes on Tom, she gets attracted to his handsomeness and vitality. There are certain things that she does that are questionable. When Tom offers her his coat so that she may cover herself, she refuses. Logically speaking she could have accepted the offered cover for her breasts but she does not. One of the reasons could be that she enjoyed the attraction that they offered to the potent Tom.

Tom, being the gallant he is leads her to an Upton Inn. His farewell to the old man of the Hill is not elaborated. Tom merely wants that Partridge be told where Tom has gone.

On reaching the Inn, Tom ensures that the lady is safety sent to a room. Her disheveled appearance and her ragged clothes immediately raise suspicions in the mind of the landlord and landlady. Both Tom and the rescued woman appear to be a couple, who have come to the public house in order to find a room to indulge in sensuous pleasures. This raises the anger of the keepers of this so-called respectable inn. The landlady insults Tom and a grand fight proceeds.

This big showdown is described in quaint comic terms by Fielding. The scene of the battle includes quite a few warriors - landlord, landlady and the chambermaid, Susan on one side, with Tom & Partridge on the other side.

A sergeant and a file of musketeers arrive at the Inn. The sergeant recognizes the distressed lady to be Mrs. Waters a Captain's wife. All this while we see that Mrs. Waters plays the role of the damsel in distress very well. We feel that she is all out to seduce young Tom and we see that we are right in the next chapter. The weakness in Tom is that his large heartedness and tender heartedness make him especially susceptible to the pointed, purposeful flirting of women. We question why he cannot exercise more restraint.

We learn in chapter four that a young woman and her maid arrive at the Inn. At this moment we do not pay much attention to this arrival but these guests are crucial to the narrative as we later learn.

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