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MonkeyNotes-Tom Jones by Henry Fielding
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Notes

Fielding is a dramatic narrator, who often appears in the story himself to comment on some behavior or to merely point out something. In the first chapter of the book, he makes an appearance to bid farewell to the reader. He hopes that the reader has enjoyed the narrative, for that was the authorís objective. Fielding makes these comments in a unique, humorous style that is especially his. He endears himself to the reader with his frankness and warmth.

From the next chapter, the narrative is continued. We notice that the pace is brisk now and many events take place, which finally draw the history to an end.

Partridge has Mrs. Deborah Wilkinís habit and that is of overhearing. When Jenny (Mrs. Waters) visits Tom in jail, Partridge learns that the two had slept together at Upton. He is shocked by this news as he had thought all this while that Jenny is Tomís mother. The reader too is shocked at this news. Tom is now guilty of incest too, apart from the other follies that weigh on his shoulders. This is the first time we see Tom in absolute despair and are able to sympathize with him. Mrs. Waters brings news, which is a source of happiness to Tom and that is that Mr. Fitzpatrick who is now her consort, is out of danger. So Tom will not be tried of murder. But he feels guilty of incest and considers it equal to having been hung.

Black George proves to be a faithful friend despite having been guilty of minor crimes before. He comes to reassure Tom in jail and to give him money if required. Little does he know that the despair that Tom feels cannot be solved by financial aid. Black George assumes that Tom is unhappy because of Sophia. He gives Tom some positive information, regarding his beloved. Through Black Georgeís character, Fielding illustrates the fact that it is poverty sometimes that makes us evil. Black George is faithful and a worthy friend, but previously it had been poverty that had driven him to commit small offences.


Squire Allworthy is a man who helps others. Now he undertakes Mrs. Millerís cause and goes to meet the elder Mr. Nightingale. He persuades this gentleman to be reconciled with his son and Mr. Nightingale agrees. Fielding develops the story through a variety of coincidences-one such incident happens when the Squire goes to meet old Mr. Nightingale. He sees Black George there and discovers the money that George had stolen from Tom. This is indeed a very strange coincidence and Mr. Allworthy tells of this to Mrs. Miller. He knows that Mrs. Miller is concerned about Tom and she would be happy to know that Tom would have some money of his own now.

Many important disclosures are made in these chapters. The Squire learns that Tom is not guilty of attacking Mr. Fitzpatrick and that Dowling had been sent by someone to talk to the men who witnessed the Tom-Mr. Fitzpatrick fight. We see how the Squireís eyes are slowly opened to the treachery of Blifil and to the innocence of Tom. These disclosures also come about in coincidental ways. Mrs. Waters comes to meet the Squire and condemns him for sending a lawyer who seeks to destroy Tom. The Squire had not send Dowling and realizes that Blifil is behind this. Blifil had tried to make sure that Tom would be out of his way. While Tom would never ever have stooped so low, Blifil does. As readers, we are glad that the Squire finally starts learning the truth about Blifil.

Other relevant disclosures are made. We finally learn the identity of Tomís parents. His mother is none other than Miss Bridget and his father had been Mr. Summers. Thankfully for Tom, he is not guilty of incest, as Mrs. Waters (Jenny) is not his mother. The story behind Tomís birth is recounted by Mrs. Waters-how Miss Bridget hid the secret and how even Mrs. Wilkins was not allowed to know.

Indeed, Miss Bridget turns out to be an altogether different character than we had imagined. Beneath all the prudence is a passionate woman. Her brother, the Squire is surprised to say the least. He recalls that when Mr. Summers was home, he had noted an attraction between him and Bridget but the latter had denied it. Miss Bridget, indeed, had lived a hypocritical life.

Thus we see how Fielding gets together all the key characters, while drawing the history to an end. Many skeletons of the past are revealed and we have a better understanding of why certain characters behaved the way they did.

The commendable quality of Fieldingís writing is the way he draws coincidences and surprising incidents to seem natural. The pace here is a hurried one, but at the same time, it never seems forced or artificial.

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