Study Guide

Tom Jones Book 2, Chapter 4

By Henry Fielding

Book 2, Chapter 4

Containing One of the Most Bloody Battles, or Rather Duels, That Were Ever Recorded in Domestic History

  • Mrs. Partridge is super-moody usually.
  • But for some reason, after firing Jenny Jones, she doesn't lose her temper seriously for months.
  • This makes Mr. Partridge worry that she is building up to something big.
  • Mrs. Partridge goes one day to the local chandler's shop (a chandler is a candle-maker).
  • It's at this chandler shop that Mrs. Partridge hears the (totally untrue) rumor that Jenny is the mother of two bastards.
  • Mrs. Partridge's jealousy flares up again.
  • Mrs. Partridge goes home and physically attacks Mr. Partridge in rage, sure that he is the father of one or both of Jenny Jones's (supposed) bastards.
  • Mr. Partridge tries to catch her arms so that she will stop beating him.
  • Mrs. Partridge bursts into tears and faints.
  • Mr. Partridge runs out into the street shouting for help because he thinks his wife is dying.
  • A crowd of women rush back to the house with him.
  • Mrs. Partridge wakes up and starts shouting that Mr. Partridge has been beating her.
  • Mr. Partridge is totally shocked—he hadn't hit her even once.
  • And all the blood on Mrs. Partridge actually comes from Mr. Partridge.
  • But all of the sympathy of the crowd goes to Mrs. Partridge.
  • Finally, the crowd leaves and Mr. and Mrs. Partridge are alone once more.
  • (Incidentally, the narrator plays this scene of domestic violence for ha-has in this chapter.
  • He clearly thinks it's really funny to see a woman beating up her husband. But we actually feel that this is a sign of how different current values are from those in Fielding's day. Mrs. Partridge actually wounds and injures Mr. Partridge until she draws blood.
  • That is abuse, and it's seriously not funny. No matter what Henry Fielding thinks.)