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MonkeyNotes-Tom Jones by Henry Fielding
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Notes

We learn more about Partridge's nature and his conversation amuses us too. While Jones is romantic and philosophical here, Partridge is concerned about the basic necessities of life. He wants to satisfy his hunger and needs a shelter for himself.

The way Partridge proclaims of his basic wants is entertaining. Jones can only think of Sophia while Partridge tries to persuade him into going back to Gloucester. We can note a key difference between the two: while the younger Jones is romantic and impractical, Partridge is older, more practical and realistic. The contrast adds color to the narrative and makes the duo's adventures more entertaining. Reading about Tom and Partridge, we are reminded of Don Quixote and his accompanying Squire.

Tom & Partridge travel on the highways too in the same manner as Don Quixote and his Squire had. Partridge’s mind is presented to the reader. His motive in accompanying Tom is a selfish one. He wishes to win back the favor of Squire Allworthy. Partridge did not have the facts of Tom's banishment right.

Fielding is able to explain how coincidences develop for certain characters to take particular decisions. He is a master in the art of outlining the intricacies of human social behavior. Fielding must have had an excellent psychological understanding of situations. Jones, on reaching, the bottom of a hill, wishes to climb up the summit. This response is characteristic of his nature as he is spontaneous and alive. His animal instincts dominate. Partridge is scared to climb a hill in the dark. On seeing a light, he urges Tom towards it. Partridge is desperate for some shelter, warmth and food. There is an old woman in the house. But, she is reluctant to let them in because she feels that her master would not like to find strangers in the house. Jones as we see is not only adventurous but also extremely curious.


On hearing the old woman housekeeper's tale about the ‘Man of the Hill’, Jones insists on satisfying his curiosity by seeing him in reality. Tom is forever alive and youthful. The old man is lucky that Tom had exhibited such curiosity. As Tom delays his departure he sees some bandits attacking the old man and is able to rescue him. If Tom had left the house when the old woman wanted him to, be would never have been able to rescue the ‘Man of the Hill. We admire Tom's spirit that he does not hesitate even once, in going to the old man's aid. These are some of the several reasons because of which he is the 'hero' of the novel.

The old man is surprised that a human creature has helped him. His opinion of humans is not good and that is one of the reasons why he stays so far away from civilization. Fielding succeeds in maintaining the reader's interest by adding episodes such as these. The old man relates his history in epic style. While Tom listens very attentively, Partridge asks silly questions in between.

The old man's history spans four chapters and is told in detail. There seems to be a lesson to be learnt from this man's fortunes. He had been guilty of excess in youth and of being carried away. He has to experience many misfortunes before he finally tires of human civilization and retires to a forest.

Both Jones and the old man take to each other and are very pleased with each other's company. The old man realizes that Tom too has been hurt by fate. Tom is frank enough to tell the old man that the latter is himself responsible for some of the unfortunate things that happened to him. Tom and the old man talk through the night while Partridge sleeps off.

In the character of the old man may be warning to Tom that he might land up like that if he is not careful. The next morning, the above two decide to take a walk, while our practical Partridge dozes off.

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