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MonkeyNotes-Tom Jones by Henry Fielding
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Notes

From the eighth chapter to the thirteenth, the narrative mainly revolves around the developments in Squire Allworthy's household. In the eighth chapter, Mrs. Deborah, the elderly maidservant overhears the conversation between the Squire and Jenny Jones. She has a nasty habit of overhearing at doors. This is one trait that is characteristic of women servants. We are told that Allworthy's sister, Miss Bridget has this habit too. It is a custom borne out of a driving curiosity. We do not notice a crucial behavior pattern now, but recall it later. This is that Ms. Bridget behaves quite unlike herself. She reprimands Mrs. Deborah for her curiosity and praises Jenny. In keeping with her frigidity, one might have thought that she would have condemned the hussy rather than praise her courage. At the end of the book, when we learn that Bridget herself is Tom's mother and that she had bribed Jenny to help her, we are able to understand her present behavior.

Mrs. Deborah Wilkin’s character is not outlined positively. She is a woman who is not very well positioned in society herself but she looks down on anyone inferior to her in rank. She is proud and mean and highly curious about the identity of Jenny’s husband. But, she is worldly enough to know that she should agree with Miss Bridget's sentiments in order to be agreeable to her. So, she outwardly agrees with Miss Bridget though her heart condemns Jenny. The two then get together in typical old maid fashion to deride beauty. They go on to criticize the men who mislead women. In this case they feel that some villainous man has misled Jenny. It is much later that we learn that no one has been misled. Miss Bridget herself gives into her passion by having an affair with Mr.Summers and the little infant is a product of that. She is a brilliant actress to be able to put up the farce of condemning Jenny's acts.


We see how village gossip can be quite vicious. When Jenny appears to be pleased after her meeting with Squire Allworthy, she is taunted at being a favorite of the nobleman. When the Squire removes her from the village, awful rumors abound of her being the mistress of the Squire himself. Many have the gall to say that the Squire himself might have fathered the baby. Fielding paints the picture of a typical, small-minded gossipy village. At the same time, the narrator intervenes to defend the Squire and to point out that his character cannot be condemned.

In this chapter, the topic moves away from Jenny and her baby finally. We read about the other guests that frequent the Squire’s house. The Squire is known to be especially kind to men of intellect, especially if they are having financial problems. We meet Dr. Blifil, who is quite a decent fellow. He might have been a brilliant intellectual but was forced by his parents to study medicine, the result being that he does not do too well in this profession and lacks bread to eat at the age of forty. He eyes the benefits that he might achieve by marrying Bridget. But, there is a hurdle to the attainment of this happiness and that is his wife. So, he decides to introduce his brother to Bridget instead. We note that though he is not very close to his sibling, he still thinks of helping his brother. But, as we see, this entire affair does not have a happy conclusion.

The Captain is a shrewd man and knows the arts of love. It is not long before he is able to make Miss Bridget fall in love with him. She is smitten by his glib style of talking, little does she know that it is just an act to attain her person and moreover, her fortune. She extends the courtship with the Captain for over a month. All this while, both the lovers are so discreet that the Squire is not able to guess the going ons. Indeed, the brother is much simpler than his artful sister Bridget.

The Captain and Miss Bridget marry secretly. Secrecy seems to be the leitmotif of Miss Bridget's life. The Squire takes this news as a gentleman. He is a large hearted and sensible man and says that his sister has full right to choose her own means to happiness. Doctor Blifil on the other hand pretends to be annoyed at his brother for marrying the Squire's sister secretly. This annoyance is merely an act put on so that the Squire may not become suspicious of the real motive behind the marriage: that of greed.

The last chapter of this Book reveals a sad incident. The other brother - Captain Blifil is a treacherous man, who distances himself from his brother after having received a massive favor from him. He knows that without Doctor Blifil's invitation, he would have never reached the Squire's house and would never have had the opportunity of winning Bridget's heart. But, instead of being obliged to his brother, he decides to get rid of him and starts being very cold to him. The Doctor is very hurt and even the Squire notices this behavior. The Squire also asks the Captain to be nice to his brother, but while he pretends to be agreeable, the rancor still dominates his heart. Finally, the Doctor cannot take more of this attitude and leaves for London. The poor man dies there of a broken heart. We feel deep pity for such a creature and contempt for a cruel brother such as his.

Through this incident, Fielding reveals how Human Nature can be cruel to its own relatives and siblings. We all must have seen such cases in real life too and so do not disbelieve what Fielding writes about the two brothers.

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