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MonkeyNotes-Tom Jones by Henry Fielding
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Book Seventeen

Chapters 1 - 5

Summary

In the first chapter the author makes some remarks on his narrative. He reiterates that he will not take supernatural assistance to solve Tom and Sophia's respective predicament.

In the second chapter Blifil informs Squire Allworthy that Tom has committed a villainous act. Mr. Miller refuses to let Tom be called a villain. Mrs. Miller defends Tom and insists that Blifil is deceiving the Squire. Blifil tells the Squire that Tom has nearly killed a man.

In the third chapter Squire Western visits Squire Allworthy. He proclaims loudly that he does not like Lord Fellamarís proposal to Sophia, he is for forcing his daughter to marry Blifil, but Squire Allworthy does not approve of such means and goes on to praise Sophia. He thinks it is not right to force Sophia if she does not like Blifil. Blifil adds that he would never force Sophia but would like to persuade her slowly. Squire Allworthy insists on no confinement for Sophia. He explains to Blifil that the latter must question whether what he feels for Sophia is truly love.

In this chapter Lady Western forces Sophia to pay attention to Lord Fellamar. Sophia stubbornly refuses and goes on to tell her aunt how the Lord had forced himself upon her.

The aunt is surprised and sympathetic to Sophia. When Lord Fellamar calls on them the aunt does not leave Sophia alone with him.

Now, Mrs. Miller goes to visit her daughter and son-in-law. Mr. Nightingale and Mrs. Miller meet Tom in the jailhouse and comfort him with sincerity. Jones gives Mrs. Miller a letter to deliver to his beloved Sophia. Both Nightingale and Mrs. Miller stay long enough to encourage Tom's spirits.


Notes

In the first chapter of the book, Fielding states that he wishes to maintain the reality of the adventure, by not resorting to supernatural means to resolve Tom, as well as Sophiaís predicaments. The author seems to enjoy putting his characters in difficult situations. He does an equally good job of extracting them from these tricky spots later. But Fielding has to be commended, as no situation looks false or contrived. The tricky spots are realistic and the resolutions are earthy too. The author refers to the reader as a friend and bids him farewell.

In the second chapter we return to the narrative. Blifil is forever ready to condemn Tom. He now hears about the duel between Tom and Mr. Fitzpatrick and the fact that Tom is in jail. Blifil comes eagerly to the Squire with this news. Mrs. Miller defends Tom faithfully. She proves to be a loyal friend, one who never forgets the favor that Tom had done to her. The Squire is surprised to note Mrs. Millerís affection for Tom but she explains it to him while praising Tom all the time.

The Squire as we can see, still has his doubts about Tomís character and is more convinced of Blifilís goodness. He is wrong in this but he does not realize it till much later.

The Squire is sad to hear that Tom has nearly killed a man.

Squire Western pays Allworthy a visit, in his characteristic loud style. He criticizes Lord Fellamar. Squire Allworthy behaves like a perfect gentleman insisting that if Western has found a better match for Sophia, Blifil is ready to withdraw his proposal. But Western will have none of that. He is like a stubborn child who has fixed his mind on an object, in this case-Sophia. Western never really bothers to study Blifilís character, to see whether it is worthy of Sophia. Squire Western is too rough sometimes and throws up the idea of forcing Sophia into marriage. But Allworthy will have nothing of brute force and insists that Sophia be left alone to make up her own mind. Allworthy praises Sophia amply. She is such a person that everyone has a good word for her. The Squire is an excellent judge of situations and he rightly advises Blifil to examine his Ďloveí for Sophia and to see whether it is truly genuine.

On the other hand Lady Western insists that Sophia meet Lord Fellamar. Aunt and niece have an argument and the latter reveals Lord Fellamarís violence to her person. If it hadnít been for this revelation, Lady Western would have forced Sophia to meet the Lord. When the Lord visits he is surprised to meet cold behavior-both from aunt and niece.

As for Tom his friends stand by him in his hour of need. Mrs. Miller and Mr. Nightingale go and visit him in jail. Tom the hero, is a nobleman, whose intrinsic value is greatly respected by people such as Mrs. Miller and Nightingale.

Thus both hero and heroine are in uncomfortable situations.

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