Last Updated on October 26, 2018, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 694
Joseph Andrews, a simple, handsome young man of great virtue who, because of his looks and purity, becomes the erotic prey of various women. Discharged from his post as Lady Booby’s footman when he fails to respond to her advances, he leaves London to return to his native...
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Joseph Andrews, a simple, handsome young man of great virtue who, because of his looks and purity, becomes the erotic prey of various women. Discharged from his post as Lady Booby’s footman when he fails to respond to her advances, he leaves London to return to his native Somersetshire and his true love, Fanny Goodwill. On the way he is robbed, beaten, made fun of, and nearly raped. At an inn, he meets his old tutor, Parson Adams, and together they travel home. On the way, Parson Adams rescues Fanny from a brutal ruffian. At home, however, Joseph’s marriage to Fanny is thwarted by a jail term on charges brought by revengeful Lady Booby, the objections of his relatives, and the discovery that Fanny is supposedly his sister. When it turns out that he is really a son of a family named Wilson—the children had been exchanged by gypsies—the marriage takes place.
Fanny Goodwill, Joseph Andrews’ attractive, virtuous sweetheart. Traveling to meet Joseph in London, after hearing that Lady Booby has dismissed him, she accompanies her lover and Parson Adams back to Somersetshire. Her adventures consist mainly of hairbreadth escapes from attackers until she is married.
Parson Abraham Adams
Parson Abraham Adams, an earthy man who loves food, drink, and tobacco. At the same time, he is idealistic and charitable. An absent-minded tutor and the friend of Joseph and Fanny, he accompanies them home, protecting them with his fists and sharing their troubles, and at last marries them.
Lady Booby, a noblewoman torn between her pride of class and her love for her handsome young footman. After dismissing him, she returns to her Somersetshire estate and uses all her influence to prevent his marriage to Fanny.
Mrs. Slipslop, Lady Booby’s housekeeper, an aggressive, misshapen woman who almost rapes Joseph and tries continually to win him over.
Pamela Booby, Joseph’s sister, who tries to prevent his marriage to Fanny. Adapted from Samuel Richardson’s novel Pamela, she exemplifies virtue based on vanity rather than, as in Fanny’s case, on natural goodness.
Squire Booby, Pamela’s husband, a good man who frees Joseph from jail and accepts him as an equal. Because of class pride, however, he objects to Joseph’s marriage to Fanny.
Peter Pounce, Lady Booby’s steward, a stingy, uncharitable man who on one occasion saves Fanny from rape but plans to enjoy her himself.
Mr. Wilson, a kindly, intelligent man who serves as host to the penniless Joseph, Fanny, and Parson Adams. He later turns out to be Joseph’s true father.
Mrs. Wilson, his wife.
The Pedlar, a good-hearted person who pays a debt for Parson Adams, saves his son from drowning, and explains the mystery of Fanny’s parentage.
Mrs. Adams, the parson’s good but practical wife. She objects to Joseph’s marriage because she thinks it will interfere with her children’s advancement.
Beau Didapper, a London fop who visits Lady Booby and tries to seduce Fanny.
Gaffer Andrews, Joseph and Pamela’s rather fatuous parents.
A Lecherous Squire
A Lecherous Squire, who sets his hounds on Parson Adams, humiliates him at dinner, and tries to gain Fanny first by cunning and then by force.
A Captain, his agent, who captures Fanny at the inn and takes her off to the squire. He is stopped in time by Peter Pounce.
A Gentleman, who promises food and lodging to Joseph, Fanny, and Parson Adams but fails to make good.
A Generous Innkeeper
A Generous Innkeeper, who promises nothing but lets the group stay at his inn without payment.
Parson Trulliber, a gluttonous, bad-tempered minister who refuses charity to Parson Adams.
Mr. Tow-Wouse, an innkeeper who is meek and stingy.
Mrs. Tow-Wouse, his vixenish wife.
Betty, their servant, who nearly ravishes Joseph while nursing him.
Mr. Scout, Lady Booby’s lawyer, who throws Joseph and Fanny into jail on trumped-up charges.