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MonkeyNotes-Tom Jones by Henry Fielding
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Notes

The author converses with his reader often. He is aware of his novel as a work of art that may be criticized by others. He does not wish for his story to be criticized unnecessarily. In the first chapter of Book Ten the author hits out at the entire exercise of futile criticism. Fielding satirizes social conventions quite often through his novel. He seems to be parodying social, artificial and futile conventions.

The Upton Inn is a scene of much drama. Late in the night, a frantic Irish gentleman arrives looking for his wife. Fielding builds up a series of coincidences and chance meetings at the Upton Inn. This Irish gentleman is Lord Fitzpatrick who has come in search of his wife. Susan, the chambermaid assumes that the ‘searched for wife’ is Mrs. Waters and leads Lord Fitzpatrick to her room. The Lord finds Tom Jones with a lady unknown to him. There is much chaos in the room. Mrs. Waters is a woman of the world who knows how to put on an act in order to protect her reputation. She starts screaming for help when several gentlemen arrive in her room. Fate introduces yet another Irish character in the narrative. This Mr. Machlachlan knows Mr. Fitzpatrick and points out that Mrs. Waters is definitely not Mrs. Fitzpatrick. When the landlady comes up to Mrs. Waters's room, Tom pretends to have entered the lady’s room on hearing all the commotion.

In reality Tom had been in bed with Mrs. Waters. Our hero is quite a promiscuous young man, who is unable to refuse the pleasures of lovemaking. Tom too is ingenious enough to fabricate a lie in order to protect his own interests, as well as those of Lady Waters'.


When Susan and the landlady converse, Susan points out that Tom & Mrs. Waters had been in bed together. But the landlady refuses to listen to Susan. It is clear that the landlady is a worldly-wise woman. She respects all who are wealthy and now that she knows that both Tom & Mrs. Waters are from decent backgrounds, she defends them both. She would rather maintain a good relationship with Squire Allworthy's heir than spoil things by gossiping about him.

Fielding is indeed a good presenter of the strengths and weaknesses of humans. He has a wonderful understanding of 'human nature' and succeeds in presenting it in all its diverse forms.

Other events take place during this fateful night at the inn. Two young women arrive and the lady amongst the duo is charming and beautiful. The landlady leaves no stone unturned in looking after aristocratic looking guests. So the young lady in the riding habit is cared for well. It comes as a surprise to the reader that this young lady is none other than Sophia herself. The chambermaid Susan plays a key role here. It is she who tells Sophia about Tom deriding her even though this is not true. What is true however is that Tom had had a one-night stand with Mrs. Waters. One can empathize with Sophia's concern when she learns this. She is very angry and hurt.

If it hadn't been for Tom's affair with Mrs. Waters, things would have stood very differently. Tom would have met Sophia and they might have formulated joint plans together. But Fielding had to create exciting situations and he succeeds in holding the reader's interest. Sophia leaves the Inn but not without resorting to a characteristic lover's reaction. She leaves a well-recognized muff of her own on Tom's bed. We wait to see Tom's reaction on seeing his beloved’s muff on his own bed.

Upton Inn and its events are placed in the center of this history and thus it gains in relevance. The incidents in this inn have a far-reaching effect on the course of the novel. Most key characters visit this Inn. Fielding manages the various threads of the novel quite well.

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