The Man of the Hill incident, in particular, has sparked debate among most critics of the twentieth century. Its examination may assist us in identifying Fielding’s broader social and moral concerns. The study may also offer insight on Fielding’s perspective on the novel’s epic character. For example, R. S. Crane, an American critic of the New Criticism school, is dissatisfied with Fielding’s numerous remarks, explanations, and incidents in the book since, in his opinion, Fielding simply “says” his viewpoint with their assistance. Crane is particularly unsure about the “good values this (the Man of the Hill’s event) may have” in the novel’s narrative structure.
Fielding, on the other hand, has framed the incident as the old man’s “History” and “Story.” Fielding’s stated goal is to incorporate “his history” and “story” into Tom Jones’7. Second, the Man of the Hill’s tale – his entire story from childhood to old age – is based on facts. Isn’t that what we mean when we talk about history? However, “story” may also refer to a fictitious narrative – something that people in their environment see and portray. The tale is told by the Man of the Hill himself. Maybe he’s trying to explain his choice to live alone, shut off from the world he was born into. As a result, he tells the tale, which is an imaginary creation. Let us now consider some of the most significant elements of Fielding’s “Story” and “History” as given in the old man’s words. In the book, “a really remarkable adventure” arises from the encounter of Tom Jones and Partridge, both travellers, with the Man of the Hill, which is not simply in terms of an event involving theft and physical assault. It’s also Tom and Partridge’s encounter with someone who has gone through the highs and lows of life and has been through a lot of suffering. That is how the Man of the Hill’s life storey is described as “the tale of an unhappy man,” which Tom and his friend listen to with bated breath.
It is a story that begins when the Man of the Hill was a kid and ends after he has reached the conclusion that he has lived a full life “Interest in a single man. It is a story that begins when the Man of the Hill was a child and ends when he has come to the conclusion that “Man alone, the king of this globe, the last and greatest work of the Supreme Being, below the sun; man alone has basely dishonoured his own nature, and has called his Maker’s goodness into question by dishonesty, cruelty, ingratitude, and accursed treachery” (43 1). It’s a lengthy statement, and the Man of the Hill seems to be trying to find the right words to express himself. While man has been described to as “the ruler of the world” and “the last and greatest achievement of the Supreme Being” in this portrayal of human nature, there is the recognition, based on observation and experience, that he is really “imperfect” and a “vile beast.”
Comment on the significance of the Man of the Hill episode in the novel Tom Jones.
The Guy of the Hill is an elderly man who has lived in isolation for a long time when he expresses this perspective of humanity. Despite Tom’s persuasive arguments, he stays steadfast in his conviction. Only once (when the old man speaks to Tom and Partridge) does the old man deviate from his resolve to avoid people and engage in an open discussion with another creature. In this episode, Tom, the devoted listener, says very little. Tom’s remark appears at the very conclusion of the story. His goal is to understand and interpret the elderly man’s account of a sequence of events in his ovq unique situation as a student.
If we do the math, the elderly man has mentioned personal and societal events that occurred in late-seventeenth-century England. In this inquiry, honest care, and absorption of facts about social life, the reader of the book is meant to feel one with Tom. This seems to be the author’s goal. Tom, according to Fielding, is the character who is discriminating, critical, developing, making mistakes, and learning. Tom’s schooling includes the story of the Man of the Hill.
The Man of the Hill’s personality is shaped by his many travels throughout his life, from his home to Oxford and then to London, as well as numerous little towns and villages across the United Kingdom and Europe. He shares the characteristic of travelling across the globe in search of peace of mind with Tom Jones. In reality, there are many more parallels between Tom Jones’ persona and the Man of the Hill’s circumstances. The Man of the Hill, for example, has an unloving mother and a kind, well-intentioned father. He also has a sibling who has turned to evil and has become a formidable foe to his younger brother, who is a bright and talented young man. The Man of the Hill’s exposure to the surroundings at Oxford, London, and elsewhere serves as a powerful reminder of Tom’s ordeals on his trip. Both have a positive, helpful, and giving personality. It’s mainly because of these and other parallels that Tom pays close attention to the Man of the Hill’s “History.”
When Tom’s attention is diverted by Partridge’s questions and inane comments, he (Tom) expresses obvious anger and frustration, not only because they are inconsiderate actions. Tom’s thoughts seems to be torn and churning as he listens to the Man of the Hill’s tale unfold step by step.
We get the sense that Tom Jones is facing his own destiny from the way he and the Man of the Hill strike up a cordial connection at the start of their encounter. In this case, the Man of the Hill feels obligated to Tom since he rescued his life when it was threatened by thieves. This is how the two react to one other as they begin their discussion, which leads to a lengthy recounting of the Man of the Hill’s life: “Whoever you are or wherever you are going,” the elderly man said, “I have obligations to you that I will never be able to repay.” “I repeat once again that you have none,” Jones responded, “because there can be no worth in risking something in your service on which I place no value.” And nothing is more repulsive to me than existence.” I’m sorry, young guy, that you have any cause to be so sad at your age, said the stranger. Yes, sir, I am the most miserable person on the face of the earth, Jones said.
As the elderly gentleman gets more interested in Tom’s circumstances. He goes on to say, “Perhaps you have a friend, or a mistress.” “The other responded, “How could you say two things sufficient to drive me insane?” Jones exclaims. “Either of them is enough to drive any guy insane,” the elderly man said. “Sir, I have no more questions. Perhaps my inquisitiveness has already taken me too far.” “Indeed, sir,” Jones exclaims “I cannot condemn a burning desire that I am experiencing right now. You’ll forgive me if I say that everything I’ve seen or heard since I first entered this home has combined to pique my interest. Something exceptional must have compelled you to choose this path in life, and I have cause to believe your past is not without tragedies ” (402).
In fact, we observe that Tom takes the initiative in this discussion and requests that the elderly man tell him about his life experiences. Why? “Your own past is not without tragedies” provides such strong signals of the presence of sorrow in Tom’s life that the reader may forget about the Man of the Hill for a minute and concentrate only on Tom’s mental condition.
Despite the numerous parallels we see between the elderly man and Tom, Fielding purposefully creates a contrast between them. Tom was once a misbehaving kid, a foundling. Squire Allworthy is an exception to the rule that there are few, if any, nice gentlemen in Tom’s immediate vicinity who would take care to defend and protect the vulnerable. On the other side, there are swarms of cheaters, thieves, and rogues wandering the streets who could provide an alternate career path to a capable young man seeking money and the luxuries that come with it. Tom might easily join the gang of gamblers against whom he happens to protect unfortunate men and women, much as the Man of the Hill did during his day. They manage to avoid nasty methods since they both have an unusual point of ethics and fellow-feeling, showing their fundamental Christian qualities in their situations.
The social environment surrounding them, though, remains unchanged. This, in my view, is something that Fielding clearly emphasises in the Man of the Hill episode, and something that we sometimes overlook in our lengthy debates about narrative structure.
Characterisation, sarcasm, narrative style, and so on are all examples of Fielding’s work. This picture of society, in my opinion, is inextricably linked to the author’s use of different methods to familiarise us with the environment in which the author lived. The importance of the Man of the Hill episode lies in the fact that it is more rigorously “realistic” and narrowly “historical” than the “History of Tom Jones,” which may be classified as a “success tale” in a limited sense “It is supported by a huge number of chances and coincidences.
Fielding, the astute observer of social trends, deliberately inserts Tom Jones’ encounter with the Man of the Hill so that he may delve into the dynamics of Tom’s development in the book with a critical presence. According to William Empson, via the old man’s narrative, “The Old Man offers the extremes of degradation and heavenly pleasure that Tom has no time for; as part of the framework of ethical thinking, he is crucial to the book, the keystone at the centre of the arch… The book’s whole setting in the 1745 Rebellion comes to life when it collides with the Old Man’s philosophy and practise. The event is intended to be such an apparent bringing together of the strands that it cautions us to keep a watch on Tom’s future moral growth, far from being “episodic.”” Beyond the fact that the Man of the Hill is a clunky and therefore superfluous presence in “Tom Jones,” the average western reader nowadays can hardly understand the rationale behind his existence.
The amount of instances in Fielding’s books alerting the reader to murders, rape, molestation, waylaying, and other crimes on rural roads and in towns cannot be overlooked. The ‘developed’ western world seems to be uncomfortable with its “History.” It wants to forget about its history. Fielding as a social reality presenter at this time is embarrassing. The irony and abstract philosophy underlying the sarcasm in Fielding’s books pique the attention of the modern western critic. The reader from a third-world nation would be wise to be sceptical of Fielding’s many abstract accolades. As a result, these admirations may be traced back to contemporary Western politics and philosophy.
In reality, the contrast between the Man of the Hill and Tom Jones helps us understand the development of Tom Jones’ colossal image, a figure that allows us to view eighteenth-century society as a playfield for a hero’s athletic exploits. Tom Jones, in contrast to the Man of the Hill’s profound and complete isolation, is a striving and active figure who sees his situation differently. Tom’s persona has a lot of appeal since he is pursuing a goal, which is something that the current framework enables a hero with the confidence of a competitor to do. Tom is a great blend of broad qualities like honesty and sincerity, as well as an amorality that slams against traditional rigidities and hypocrisies of the day. The difference between the Man of the Hill’s and Tom Jones’ attitudes also revealed Fielding’s intellectual and perspectival leaning toward Tom’s successful fulfilment of his life’s journey. It’s a term for “comedy,” or the author’s effective settlement of issues via his or her involvement. Fielding seems to have made the conscious decision to help Tom overcome his feelings that “nothing is so despicable in my sight as life.”
As a result, we can understand how important aesthetic coherence is in contemporary critical thinking. In a certain kind of book, the notion of the author conversing with the reader is crucial. The writer is a teacher and a moral counsellor in addition to being an entertainment. Because the episode provides a “History” that puts Tom in context, the Man of the Hill episode is an essential element of the book. The reader is asked to compare and contrast the two historical eras – the late seventeenth century and the mid-eighteenth century.