Partridge: Character Analysis in Tom Jones

Also Read

      Partridge is proof that Fielding had not ceased even at this late date, to derive inspiration from Cervantes. He is unquestionably a Cervantic figure. Just as in Parson Adams, the novelist had produced a thoroughly anglicized Don Quixote, so in Partridge he now produced a thoroughly anglicized Sancho Panza. Between the original and the translated Sancho, there are, of course, obvious differences; but in the latter, the essential characteristics of the former are preserved.

      A Man of Great Oddity and Humour. Partridge is depicted as a fellow of great oddity and humour, constantly getting into scrapes, on account of his irrepressible propensity for jesting without the least respect of persons, times, or place. Though he professed himself wholly devoid of 'impertinent curiosity' and a perfect keeper of secrets, he was, in fact, the most inquisitive of mortals, and an inveterate babbler, who could never refrain from blurting out the most private matters to anyone who cared to listen. His ridiculous talk flowed incessantly and discursively in an inexhaustible stream; and when once he fairly got going, it was impossible either to stop him or to bring him to the point. What he said, however, could not very safely be relied on; for a strict adherence to truth was not among the articles of this honest fellow's morality, or his religion. Incidentally, it may be observed that the term 'honest', as applied to Partridge, must not be understood too literally; for though his sentiments on the appropriation of his own property by others were imexceptionable (it is very proper for the law to hang them all), his views on the appropriation of others' property by himself were not quite so orthodox.

      A Jack of all Trades. Partridge was a Jack of all trades—schoolmaster, clerk, barber, surgeon, and tailor. As former school master, he had a smattering of Latin, and loved to interlard his conversation with Latin words and tags—a habit which was liable to give offence to persons ignorant of that tongue. He was inordinately proud of his little stock, of learning; it was, indeed, the one point on which he showed himself touchy. "As to the grammar, he boasted, I think I may challenge any man living; I think, at least, I have that at my finger's end." Another of his peculiarities, was his immeasurable superstition. He was a fanatical believer in dreams, prophecies, warnings, witches, ghosts, hobgoblins, and the devil. The cries of a screech-owl at his window were enough to frighten him out of his bedroom. The sight of an old beggar-woman, whose petition for alms was disregarded, inspired him with terror of being bewitched.

      His Dominant Passion. Partridge adored comfort—plenty of food, plenty of drink, and a snug seat by a kitchen fire. He had an insatiable appetite for sirloins of beef, bacon and eggs, and shoulders of mutton; nor was he less appreciative of good liquor, which (his head being none of the strongest) was apt to enliven him amazingly. His dominant passion, however, was one seldom omitted from the constitution of a wise man, namely, self-interest. It was the hope of obtaining some substantial advantage for himself that led him, though a lover of ease, to go tramping the roads with Tom; that induced him, though an arrant coward, to contemplate entering into the war; and that persuaded him, though a Jacobite, to range himself along with the defenders of King George. He allowed neither pleasure nor principle to interfere with his chances of making his fortune. With all his foibles, however, he was really a good-natured creature, and unswervingly loved his young master, who, though he frequently lost patience with him, found it impossible to be angry for long with so simple, so inconsequent, so whimsical a man.

Previous Post Next Post