Mirror Plots

  • John Allen Stevenson


Tom Jones’ doggedly faithful companion, Partridge, has appeared in this study primarily as the voice of fearful superstition and inconsistent commentary on the criminal law, but if we look at the novel as a whole, we see him in a remarkable number of other roles: as schoolmaster and undistinguished but irrepressible Latinist; as brow-beaten husband and presumptive father of the novel’s hero; as barber and surgeon; as a voluntary servant to a man, Tom, who is without money but whom he assumes to be rich; as a crypto-Jacobite more loyal to his personal safety than to the cause of the Stuarts; and (as he relates almost at the very end of the novel) a victim of ruinous litigation who “lay seven years in Winchester Goal” (938). He is often the butt of some joke, but he is also and surprisingly sympathetic at times. While he is a far more attractive character than his old schoolmate, Black George, he does display some of the same oddities in the way Fielding has constructed him that we discovered in the gamekeeper. He, too, is a site of association, for Jacobitism and for superstition, but also, as with George, for issues of class mobility, money, and criminal justice. Like George Seagrim, too, he turns out to be a character with a peculiarly intimate relation to his creator. That complexity emerged to some extent as we looked at his reaction to the trial for horse theft that was the subject of chapter 4, as it did in his comments on highway robbery in the last chapter. It is most prominent, however, in another small scene, where he again becomes the primary focus of our attention: his trip to Drury Lane, to watch Garrick play Hamlet.


Restorative Justice Real History British History Prayer Book Capital Trial 
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© John Allen Stevenson 2005

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  • John Allen Stevenson

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