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MonkeyNotes-Tom Jones by Henry Fielding
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Book Nine

Chapters 5 - 7

Summary

Tom eats a lot while his companion Mrs. Waters is occupied with considerations of a different nature. Tom's attractions to the opposite sex are described. Mrs. Waters is said to be in 'love' with Tom and her endeavors to get his attention are described. Her flirtations with Tom are successful and he eventually gives into the temptation of having an affair with her. While the lovers thus entertain themselves, the assembly around the kitchen fire below gossip about the two. The sergeant relates Mrs. Waters background and we learn that she did not enjoy a clean reputation. In fact she is said to have had an affair with Ensign Northerton too. The landlady dismisses all this talk as idle gossip.

Partridge then goes on reveal Tom Jones’s identity as a worthy heir of the rich Squire Allworthy. He also tells the gathering about Tom and Partridge's encounter with the 'Man of the Hill'. The sergeant and the landlord have a small argument. In the meanwhile the young lady who was briefly mentioned in the previous chapter is eager to leave the Inn but cannot as her coachman is drunk. The mistress of the inn mentions the pretty woman's predicament to Tom, who sighs heartily.

Mrs. Waters history is outlined by the author and her affair with Ensign Northerton is described. Also the reality behind the ugly episode between the Ensign and Mrs. Waters is now revealed. The Ensign had intended to rob Mrs. Waters and also to rape her. Mrs Waters had fought valiantly with him and the rest, we have already learnt of before. The author goes on to highlight the baseness of this Ensign fellow.


Notes

The author brilliantly writes chapter five. Tom's voracious appetite is a source of amusement, as his complete disinterestedness in the charms of Mrs. Waters. While he is eating, he is so occupied with it that he can think of nothing else. Fielding has a good understanding of the psyche of men and accurately represents Tom’s state of mind. While Tom is eating, Mrs. Waters attempts to attract Tom with sighs, glances and smiles. After he finishes eating, he pays more attention to her and does not put up much of a defense to her flirtations. The manner in which the going ons are described is very interesting. Fielding uses the analogy of a battle to outline the amorous situation between Tom and Mrs. Waters.

The reader feels a little angry with Tom for not having remained faithful to Sophia. Tom as we can see is easily susceptible to feminine charms. Also, since he is so attractive, the women themselves spare no efforts to try and attract him.

While Tom and Mrs. Waters are thus occupied in amorous combat, around the kitchen fire below they both are the subject of much discussion. The sergeant relates Mrs. Waters' past. She has quite a colorful reputation for her excessive flirting with many a man. What is surprising is that she had had an affair with Ensign Northerton, the very man who tried to rob and rape her later.

Fielding makes the narrative interesting by adding character descriptions through the words of other characters, other than his own comments. In this way he creates an intricate social network, the events of which entertain and enthrall us.

Partridge serves his master well. He praises Tom magnificently and impresses his listeners with the fact that Tom is Squire Allworthy’s heir. We note that high birth and large fortunes impress most landlords and landladies. The landlady’s negative attitude takes a complete turnabout when she learns that Tom is rich and Mrs. Waters is a captain’s wife. She now praises them both as a ‘gentleman’ and a ‘gentlelady’ respectively.

The young lady who was briefly mentioned before is referred to again. She is desirous of leaving the inn but cannot because her coachman is too inebriated to drive. The landlady mentions this woman’s predicament to Tom. Though we do not put much relevance to this small matter, we later learn how interesting this situation is. This young lady is none other than Harriet, Sophia's cousin. But, we will meet her only in some other Book.

In the last chapter of the Book, Mrs. Waters' history is described. She is in reality quite an unchaste woman. We also learn why Ensign Northerton had tried to commit violence on her. He was after her money too. In fact, Mrs. Waters and this Ensign were actually travelling together.

Once again a reference is made to Tom's gentility that prevents him from questioning Mrs. Waters on how she came about to be in a forest, alone with Ensign. Tom is indeed innocent in so many ways, unlike his love - the sensible Sophia.

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