Joseph Andrews

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Henry Fielding, The History of the Adventures of Joseph Andrews and of His Friend Mr. Abraham Adams

Joseph Andrews was the first published full-length novel of the English author and magistrate Henry Fielding, written in 1742 and defined by Fielding as a "comic epic poem in prose".

Joseph Andrews is a humble young man in the service of Sir Thomas Booby and his wife. When his master dies, Joseph is assailed by fresh widow, who never misses an opportunity to make them advances and proposals more or less indecent. But her attempts fail, because Joseph is proving to be very in love with a young woman as humble as he is, a woman named Fanny Goodwill. Tired to be refused by a simple servant, Lady Booby fired the young man, and this is the point when the adventure begins.

Joseph goes in a journey with the pleasant parson Adams. This journey is undertaken in more than a simply geographical sense. Fielding takes his characters through a series of confusing episodes in order to achieving a greater degree of self-knowledge. During the journey, Joseph goes through many adventures: he is beaten, stripped, cheated, stolen, sued, harassed and many-many others ..

His best friend and also his mentor, parson Adams, is a very good man and yet a very human man. He has his head in the clouds and although his feet are on the ground, they are usually in puddles. Like Joseph and Fanny, he acts on his feelings, and it is because of this affinity that he is such a fine guardian and guide to the young pair. Throughout the novel, he never develops, never changes, but we know what he stands for. He is ever active and ever charitable.

It is vital to appreciate the limited role that Fielding gives to burlesque. He is attempting to describe the real nature of comedy, just as Joseph Andrews will attempt to discover the real nature of everyone and everything. The vices for which he apologizes in the preface are more than balanced by the character of Adams and by the fact that they are "accidental consequences of some human frailty or foible."

The excerpt from this novel that I will try to analyze begins with the presentation of physical portrait of Joseph Andrews. He is very attractive physically, as Lady Booby and Mrs. Slipslop are well aware, and his character matches this exterior excellence. His presence inspire both sensitivity and strength and his air is one of a noblemen. His charms might induce all ladies to "bridle their rampant passion for chastity". That was the look of the man appeared before his Mistress - Lady Booby. After she quietly admired these qualities of his footman, she broke the silence accusing Joseph of having a rude behaviour with maids. He denied this false accusation but in Lady Booby's eyes, his disconcertedness passed for guilt. Continuing with his story, Fielding shows us Lady Booby, seemingly scolding Joseph for his conduct then embarking on another attempt at seduction. The young man retorted by asserting his innocence and confessed her that he has never offered more than kissing. She went on proposing Joseph to kiss her but his rejection extremely annoyed her. The humiliation which Lady Booby feels at the revelation of Joseph's unshakable virtue is a result of her vanity . Above all, she is concerned for her reputation. She desperately wants Joseph but only if their affair can be kept secret. Her tremendous hypocrisy is exactly what Fielding most scorns. A reference by Joseph to the chastity of his sister, Pamela, completely undoes Lady Booby. She then dismisses Joseph from her household and, more mortified than ever, rings violently for Slipslop, who has been listening at the keyhole.

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