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MonkeyNotes-Tom Jones by Henry Fielding
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It is surprising to see that the unattractive Mrs. Blifil is such an object of affection to the opposite sex; the attraction lies less in her person and much more so, in her brother's vast fortune. Both Square and Thawckum eye the large estate despite all their pretensions to great intellect and religiosity. Mrs. Blifil on the other hand enjoys flattery but is too disillusioned with marriage to attempt it again. Out of Thwackum and Square, she favors the latter's person. Gossip soon abounds about Square and Mrs. Blifil, but it is soon subdued by yet another interesting tit-bit: that of the attraction of Mrs. Blifil towards the charming and now youthful Tom. Square does not like the attention being transferred to Tom and this is another reason why he is so mean to the young man.

Both Square and Thwackum feel that they can make Mrs. Blifil happy by being nice to her son Blifil and by being bad to Tom. But this decoy does not work, and as we learn later, Tom too is Bridget's own son.

Squire Allworthy upholds justice at all times. On seeing that Mrs. Blifil is not fond of her own son, the Squire starts paying special attention to him. So, while Tom rises in the eyes of Miss Bridget, he falls comparatively in the Squire's favor. The great thing about Fielding is that all his characters are realistic and we can imagine such situations in real life too.

Tom's sweet disposition is shown once again. He considers the gamekeeper a friend and is sorry for him and his family's destitute condition. He sells his horse and later even his Bible in order to provide for the family. While the Squire recognizes the good intention behind such gestures, Square, Thwackum and even the young Blifil criticize Tom. Blifil shows his viciousness again in the manner in which he arranges that his tutors discover that the Bible being used by him is Tom's, not his. He ensures that Tom gets into trouble as far as possible. Surprisingly, Miss Bridget comes to Tom's defense and says that Blifil is equally to blame for buying the Bible from Tom, as Tom is for selling it.


There are many tiny turn arounds here. The Squire decides to help Black George's family but later hears an exaggerated story of the gamekeeper's bad habits, and changes his mind about giving aid. Blifil is once again responsible for poisoning the Squire's mind. Tom never quite realizes why the Squire changes his mind about the gamekeeper.

But, we see Tom's perseverance in trying to help his friend Black George. He now thinks of applying to Squire Western to employ George. For this, he decides to approach Squire Western's daughter. This is the first mention of the heroine of the story and we are promised that we shall meet her in the next chapter.

By now, we well realize the kind of antagonism Tom has to face in the world. His honesty is pitted against the manipulative and evil ways of persons, such as the young Blifil, and the elders - Square and Thwackum. We admire Tom in the way he continues to help the gamekeeper and his family. And, while the Squire is a nobleman, we see how he is often misled by false stories and is not able to apply his discretion. So, while, Tom may be wild, he seems to do more right through his crazy ways, than the Squire does, by trying to be very just and upright.

Fielding, indeed, is remarkable in his presentation of the strengths and weaknesses of Human Nature. But, no one is perfect and the hero Tom too has a lesson to learn. He will have to learn to be more discreet, prudent and more disciplined.

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