Thursday, December 27, 2012



'Tom Jones, A Foundling'

Henry Fielding

Sylvester McCoy
(The Seventh Doctor)

Earth Prime-Time

From Ruth Nestvold:
The neatly constructed plot reflects a basic eighteenth century faith in the order of the world, which Fielding, despite skeptical overtones, displayed in this huge but far from sprawling novel. Samuel Taylor Coleridge saw the plot of "Tom Jones" as one of the three most perfectly planned plots in literature. Even seemingly random details have a place, and at the end of the tale the reader notices that elements which might have appeared superfluous are necessary to round off the story. 

The role of the lawyer Dowling is a case in point. In his original appearance he seems only to contribute to the busy atmosphere of the scene, but at the end he is revealed to have been instrumental to the development of events. The scene at the inn in Upton, exactly halfway through the novel, is a plot node of great complexity: here all of the major actors and plot threads come together, and actions and misunderstandings occur which will be crucial for the climax and denouement. Despite the involved construction and numerous plot twists, the author is at great pains to provide adequate motivation for these machinations, creating an appearance of causality usually lacking in the monumental prose romances popular in his day.

From the source:
Jones, who in the compliance of his disposition (though not in his prudence) a little resembled his lovely Sophia, was easily prevailed on to satisfy Mr. Dowling’s curiosity, by relating the history of his birth and education, which he did, like Othello.         

—Even from
his boyish years,
 To th’ very moment he was bad to tell:
the which to hear, 

Dowling, like Desdemona, did seriously incline;
    He swore ’t was strange, ’t was passing strange;
 ’T was pitiful, ’t was wonderous pitiful.
Mr. Dowling was indeed very greatly affected with this relation; for he had not divested himself of humanity by being an attorney. Indeed, nothing is more unjust than to carry our prejudices against a profession into private life, and to borrow our idea of a man from our opinion of his calling. Habit, it is true, lessens the horror of those actions which the profession makes necessary, and consequently habitual; but in all other instances, Nature works in men of all professions alike; nay, perhaps, even more strongly with those who give her, as it were, a holiday, when they are following their ordinary business. A butcher, I make no doubt, would feel compunction at the slaughter of a fine horse; and though a surgeon can feel no pain in cutting off a limb, I have known him compassionate a man in a fit of the gout. The common hangman, who hath stretched the necks of hundreds, is known to have trembled at his first operation on a head; and the very professors of human blood-shedding, who, in their trade of war, butcher thousands, not only of their fellow-professors, but often of women and children, without remorse; even these, I say, in times of peace, when drums and trumpets are laid aside, often lay aside all their ferocity, and become very gentle members of civil society. In the same manner an attorney may feel all the miseries and distresses of his fellow-creatures, provided he happens not to be concerned against them.

Mr. Dowling could be the "roots" of the family tree in Toobworld which would lead to Father Dowling.....


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