Joseph Andrews

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

The novel’s story and full title, THE HISTORY OF THE ADVENTURES OF JOSEPH ANDREWS, AND HIS FRIEND MR. ABRAHAM ADAMS, echo the first and greatest of all European novels, the story of Don Quixote and his squire Sancho Panza (Part One 1605; Part Two 1615). While Cervantes’ novel burlesques the chivalric romances of his day, Fielding’s is a parody of Samuel Richardson’s PAMELA (1740), a sentimental novel depicting the struggle of an honest serving maid to escape seduction by her master.

Joseph, whom Fielding makes a brother to Pamela, resists Lady Booby with the same virtue that enabled his sister to resist Squire Booby. Joseph’s reward is dismissal. Without money or prospects but warmed by his devotion to his sweetheart Fanny, Joseph sets out from London determined to find her. En route he meets Parson Adams, his old tutor and friend. Under dramatic circumstances, they happen to encounter Fanny. Soon all three have a series of quixotic adventures.

Parson Adams is a totally ingenuous country cleric, simpleminded, good-hearted with a strong appetite for meat and drink and a wholesome disdain of selfishness, meanness, and hypocrisy. He is Fielding’s primary vehicle for attacking affectation, and the parson’s quick temper and physical courage make him a formidable adversary. Although he gets himself into one compromising situation after another, his essential goodness always shines through. In a magnificently farcical scene he is...

(The entire section is 529 words.)