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Characters

Joseph Andrews
A handsome and virtuous young footman whom Lady Booby attempts to
corrupt. He is a protg of Mr. Adams and the devoted but chaste lover
of Fanny Goodwill. His adventures in journeying from the Booby
household in London back to the countryside, where he plans to marry
Fanny, provide the main plot of the novel.
Mr. Abraham Adams
A benevolent, absent-minded, impecunious, and somewhat vain curate
in Lady Boobys country parish. He notices and cultivates Josephs
intelligence and moral earnestness from early on, and he supports
Josephs determination to marry Fanny. His journey back to the
countryside coincides with Josephs for much of the way, and the
vibrancy of his simple good nature makes him a rival of Joseph for the
title of protagonist.
Fanny Goodwill
The beautiful but reserved beloved of Joseph, a milkmaid, believed to be
an orphan. She endures many unsuccessful sexual assaults.
Sir Thomas Booby
The recently deceased master of Joseph and patron of Mr. Adams. Other
characters reminiscences portray him as decent but not heroically
virtuous; he once promised Mr. Adams a clerical living in return for
Adamss help in electing Sir Thomas to parliament, but he then allowed
his wife to talk him out of it.

Lady Booby
Sir Thomass widow, whose grieving process involves playing cards and
propositioning servants. She is powerfully attracted to Joseph, her
footman, but finds this attraction degrading and is humiliated by his
rejections. She exemplifies the traditional flaws of the upper class,
namely snobbery, egotism, and lack of restraint, and she is prone to
drastic mood swings.
Mrs. Slipslop
A hideous and sexually voracious upper servant in the Booby household.
Like her mistress, she lusts after Joseph.
Peter Pounce
Lady Boobys miserly steward, who lends money to other servants at
steep interest and gives himself airs as a member of the upwardly
striving new capitalist class.
Mr. Booby
The nephew of Sir Thomas. Fielding has adapted this character from the
Mr. B. of Samuel Richardsons Pamela; like Richardsons character,
Mr. Booby is a rather snobbish squire who marries his servant girl,
Pamela Andrews.
Pamela Andrews
Josephs virtuous and beautiful sister, from whom he derives inspiration
for his resistance to Lady Boobys sexual advances. Pamela, too, is a
servant in the household of a predatory Booby, though she eventually
marries her lascivious master. Fielding has adapted this character from
the heroine of Samuel Richardsons Pamela.

Mr. Andrews
The father of Pamela and, ostensibly, Joseph.
Mrs. Andrews
The mother of Pamela and, ostensibly, Joseph.
Two Ruffians
Highwaymen who beat, rob, and strip Joseph on the first night of his
journey.
Postilion
Lends Joseph his greatcoat when Joseph is naked following the attack by
the Ruffians.
Mr. Tow-wouse
The master of the inn where Joseph boards after being attacked by the
Ruffians. He intends to lend Joseph one of his own shirts, but his stingy
wife prevents him. Later he is discovered in bed with Betty the
chambermaid.
Mrs. Tow-wouse
The frugal, nagging wife of Mr. Tow-wouse.
Betty
A chambermaid in the inn of Mr. and Mrs. Tow-wouse. Her initial care
of Joseph bespeaks her basic good nature, but she is also lustful, and her
association with him ends badly.

Mr. Barnabas
A clergyman who never passes up a drink and halfheartedly attends
Joseph during his recovery from the attack by the Ruffians.
Surgeon
Belatedly addresses the injuries Joseph sustained during his attack by the
Ruffians.
Bookseller
A friend of Mr. Barnabas, declines to represent Mr. Adams, author of
several volumes of sermons, in the London book trade.
Tom Suckbribe
The Constable who fails to guard an imprisoned Ruffian and may have
some financial incentive for failing in this office.
Leonora
The reclusive inhabitant of a grand house along the stage-coach route, a
shallow woman who once jilted the hard-working Horatio for the
frivolous Bellarmine and then was jilted in turn.
Horatio
An industrious lawyer who intended to marry Leonora but lost her to the
wealthy and flamboyant Bellarmine.
Bellarmine
A Frenchified cavalier who values Leonoras beauty enough to steal her
away from Horatio but who finally rejects her when her father refuses to
supply a dowry.

Leonora's Father
A miserly old gentleman who refuses to bestow any money on his
daughter during his life and thereby causes her to lose Bellarmine as a
suitor.
Leonora's Aunt
Leonoras chaperone during the period of her courtship by Horatio and
then Bellarmine; encourages Leonora to pursue her financial self-interest
in choosing a mate.
Mrs. Grave-airs
A snobbish stage-coach passenger who objects to traveling with the
footman Joseph but turns out to be the daughter of a man who was once
a lower servant.
Sportsman
Encounters Mr. Adams while out shooting one night; extolls bravery
when conversing with Adams but flees the scene when the cries of a
distressed woman are heard.
The Justice
A local magistrate who does not take his responsibilities very seriously.
He handles the case of Mr. Adams and Fanny when Fannys attacker
accuses them of having beaten and robbed him.
Mr. Wilson
A gentleman who, after a turbulent youth, has retired to the country with
his wife and children and lives a life of virtue and simplicity. His eldest
son, who turns out to have been Joseph, was stolen by gypsies as a child.

Mrs. Wilson
The wife of Wilson. She once redeemed him from debtors prison,
having been the object of his undeclared love for some time.
Pedlar
An apparent instrument of providence who pays one of Mr. Adamss
many inn bills, rescues Mr. Adamss drowning son, and figures out the
respective parentages of both Joseph and Fanny.
Mrs. Adams
The wife of Mr. Adams and mother of his six children, prone to nagging
but also appreciative of her husbands loving nature.
Parson Trulliber
An entrepreneurial and greedy clergyman, more dedicated to hog
farming than to the care of souls, who refuses to lend Mr. Adams money
for his inn bill.
Mrs. Trulliber
The downtrodden wife of Parson Trulliber.

Themes
Joseph's face could launch a thousand ships Wait, that's not how that
goes. But seriously, Joseph is a handsome guy who attracts ladies right
and left. A major plot point has to do with his obliviousness to female
attention, largely a result of that gorgeous mug. What's a male modellookalike to do?

Like Fanny, Joseph isn't aware of how attractive he isand that could
be one thing that makes him even more attractive to the ladies. Think of
it this way: since Joe doesn't know how handsome he is, he's free to
dwell on the stuff that matters, like developing his inner self and, you
know, memorizing Parson Adams's copy of Aeschylus. Everyone else is
free to stare at his pretty face.
Questions About Appearances
1. Why make a point of describing Fanny's smallpox-marked face?
2. What about Joseph's appearance attracts all the ladies? Should this
even matter?
3. Does Parson Adams's ridiculous appearance prevent him from
getting respect?
4. Does Fanny make more of an impression, in terms of appearance,
than Joseph?
The Vulnerability and Power of Goodness
Goodness was a preoccupation of the littrateurs of the eighteenth
century no less than of the moralists. In an age in which worldly
authority was largely unaccountable and tended to be corrupt, Fielding
seems to have judged that temporal power was not compatible with
goodness. In his novels, most of the squires, magistrates, fashionable
persons, and petty capitalists are either morally ambiguous or actively
predatory; by contrast, his paragon of benevolence, Parson Adams, is
quite poor and utterly dependent for his income on the patronage of
squires. As a corollary of this antithesis, Fielding shows that Adams's
extreme goodness, one ingredient of which is ingenuous expectation of
goodness in others, makes him vulnerable to exploitation by
unscrupulous worldlings. Much as the novelist seems to enjoy
humiliating his clergyman, however, Adams remains a transcendently
vital presence whose temporal weakness does not invalidate his moral
power. If his nave good nature is no antidote to the evils of hypocrisy
and unprincipled self-interest, that is precisely because those evils are so

pervasive; the impracticality of his laudable principles is a judgment not


on Adams nor on goodness per se but on the world.
Charity and Religion
Fieldings novels are full of clergymen, many of whom are less than
exemplary; in the contrast between the benevolent Adams and his more
self-interested brethren, Fielding draws the distinction between the mere
formal profession of Christian doctrines and that active charity which he
considers true Christianity. Fielding advocated the expression of
religious duty in everyday human interactions: universal, disinterested
compassion arises from the social affections and manifests itself in
general kindness to other people, relieving the afflictions and advancing
the welfare of mankind. One might say that Fieldings religion focuses
on morality and ethics rather than on theology or forms of worship; as
Adams says to the greedy and uncharitable Parson Trulliber, Whoever
therefore is void of Charity, I make no scruple of pronouncing that he is
no Christian.
Providence
If Fielding is skeptical about the efficacy of human goodness in the
corrupt world, he is nevertheless determined that it should always be
recompensed; thus, when the "good" characters of Adams, Joseph, and
Fanny are helpless to engineer their own happiness, Fielding takes care
to engineer it for them. The role of the novelist thus becomes analogous
to that of God in the real world: he is a providential planner, vigilantly
rewarding virtue and punishing vice, and Fielding's overtly stylized plots
and characterizations work to call attention to his designing hand. The
parallel between plot and providence does not imply, however, that
Fielding navely expects that good will always triumph over evil in real
life; rather, as Judith Hawley argues, "it implies that life is a work of art,
a work of conscious design created by a combination of Providential
authorship and individual free will." Fielding's authorly concern for his
characters, then, is not meant to encourage his readers in their everyday

lives to wait on the favor of a divine author; it should rather encourage


them to make an art out of the business of living by advancing and
perfecting the work of providence, that is, by living according to the true
Christian principles of active benevolence.
Town and Country
Fielding did not choose the direction and destination of his heros travels
at random; Joseph moves from the town to the country in order to
illustrate, in the words of Martin C. Battestin, a moral pilgrimage from
the vanity and corruption of the Great City to the relative naturalness
and simplicity of the country. Like Mr. Wilson (albeit without having
sunk nearly so low), Joseph develops morally by leaving the city, site of
vanity and superficial pleasures, for the country, site of virtuous
retirement and contented domesticity. Not that Fielding had any utopian
illusions about the countryside; the many vicious characters whom
Joseph and Adams meet on the road home attest that Fielding believed
human nature to be basically consistent across geographic distinctions.
His claim for rural life derives from the pragmatic judgment that, away
from the bustle, crime, and financial pressures of the city, those who are
so inclined may, as Battestin puts it, attend to the basic values of life.
Affectation, Vanity, and Hypocrisy
Fieldings Preface declares that the target of his satire is the ridiculous,
that the only Source of the true Ridiculous is affectation, and that
Affectation proceeds from one of these two Causes, Vanity, or
Hypocrisy. Hypocrisy, being the dissimulation of true motives, is the
more dangerous of these causes: whereas the vain man merely considers
himself better than he is, the hypocrite pretends to be other than he is.
Thus, Mr. Adams is vain about his learning, his sermons, and his
pedagogy, but while this vanity may occasionally make him ridiculous,
it remains entirely or virtually harmless. By contrast, Lady Booby
and Mrs. Slipslop counterfeit virtue in order to prey on Joseph, Parson
Trulliber counterfeits moral authority in order to keep his parish in

awe, Peter Pounce counterfeits contented poverty in order to exploit the


financial vulnerabilities of other servants, and so on. Fielding chose to
combat these two forms of affectation, the harmless and the less
harmless, by poking fun at them, on the theory that humor is more likely
than invective to encourage people to remedy their flaws.
Chastity
As his broad hints about Joseph and Fannys euphoric wedding night
suggest, Fielding has a fundamentally positive attitude toward sex; he
does prefer, however, that peoples sexual conduct be in accordance
with what they owe to God, each other, and themselves. In the mutual
attraction of Joseph and Fanny there is nothing licentious or exploitative,
and they demonstrate the virtuousness of their love in their eagerness to
undertake a lifetime commitment and in their compliance with the
Anglican forms regulating marriage, which require them to delay the
event to which they have been looking forward for years. If Fielding
approves of Joseph and Fanny, though, he does not take them too
seriously; in particular, Josephs male-chastity is somewhat
incongruous given the sexual double-standard, and Fielding is not above
playing it for laughs, particularly while the hero is in London. Even
militant chastity is vastly preferable, however, to the loveless and
predatory sexuality of Lady Booby and those like her: as Martin C.
Battestin argues, Josephs chastity is amusing because extreme; but it
functions nonetheless as a wholesome antithesis to the fashionable lusts
and intrigues of high society.