Book 5 Chapter 8 of Tom Jones.

This is part of an ongoing project in which I will record and post one chapter per week of Henry Fielding's Tom Jones over the course of four years.

This week's chapter contains a death in the family, but not the one we've been expecting.

But first, we get a whole lot of grousing from Mrs. Deborah about not being singled out among the servants for a bigger cut of Allworthy's fortune. Then, we meet up with Thwackum and Square, who are upset at being treated equal in Allworthy's eyes. Yes, there's nothing like being treated utterly fairly to upset the ignoble. The doctor then joins them in a comic scene where he takes their plaintive tone to mean that Allworthy has taken a turn for the worse.

Finally, young Blifil comes on the scene to reveal the news that the messenger brought, that was teased at the end of the previous chapter. It turns out that his mother, Mrs. Bridget has died while abroad.

I really like Fielding's turn of phrase at the reaction of Square and of Blifil in this case, "The one advised him to bear [it] like a man. The other like a Christian." Blifil then decides to tell Allworthy of his sister's death, against the doctor's orders, and that the shock could put allworthy over the edge. He claims that he's doing it in the name of honesty, but I somehow doubt his motives.

When they return to Allworthy's room, they find that he's completely better, that his illness wasn't so bad to begin with.


AuthorMark Turetsky