Study Guide

Tom Jones Book 5, Chapter 9

By Henry Fielding

Book 5, Chapter 9

Which, Among Other Things, May Serve as a Comment on that Saying of Aeschines, That "Drunkenness Shows the Mind of a Man, As a Mirrour Reflects His Person"

  • Tom is so sad and upset at the end of Squire Allworthy's speech that he goes to his room to collect himself.
  • So he's not around to overhear the horrible things that Mrs. Wilkins and Misters Thwackum and Square have to say about the old man.
  • Later on, he slips back into Squire Allworthy's room.
  • He sits back next to Squire Allworthy's nurse to watch over his adopted father.
  • So when the doctor and Mr. Blifil go in to discuss Squire Allworthy's condition and Bridget's death, they don't notice Tom.
  • Tom is furious that Mr. Blifil is disturbing Squire Allworthy's rest with the horrible news about Bridget.
  • But when he sees that Squire Allworthy is recovering well, he gets over his bad feelings.
  • In fact, Tom is so happy to see his adoptive father getting better that he gets truly trashed at the dinner table.
  • The people gathered at the table are: Misters Square, Thwackum, and Blifil; the doctor; and, of course, cheerful, drunken Tom.
  • Mr. Thwackum says something horrible: that it would have been better for Tom's sake if Squire Allworthy had just died so that Tom could collect his inheritance before Squire Allworthy finds out what an awful person Tom is.
  • Of course, the mood of the dinner party suddenly turns tense and ugly.
  • Mr. Blifil is also angry at Tom because he is so drunkenly joyful.
  • After all, yes, Squire Allworthy is getting better—but Mr. Blifil's mother just died.
  • So when Tom apologizes for being so out of it, Mr. Blifil snaps back: since Mr. Blifil had "the misfortune" (5.8.13) to know who his parents are, he has to be sad when they die.
  • Tom immediately takes offense at Mr. Blifil's reference to his illegitimate birth.
  • The two of them jump at each other to start fighting.
  • The doctor and Mr. Thwackum pull them apart.
  • Tom finally apologizes and Mr. Blifil accepts his apology.
  • But clearly no one is happy with anyone else at that table.