“Joseph Andrews” was the first published novel of the English writer Henry Fielding, as well as one of the first novels in the English language. The book was published in 1742 and defined by its author as a ‘comic romance’. It presents the adventures of Joseph Andrews and his friend Abraham Adams on their way home to London. The story in whole consists of four books and the excerpt under consideration comes from Chapter 14 of the last book. Didapper, a young beau, was sent to Adam’s house by Lady Booby to seduce Fanny, Joseph’s fiancée. At the same time, Joseph and Fanny find out that they can be related, which might considerably influence their further lives. Didapper has passion for Fanny and in this passage he is trying to seduce her (though it is another woman in reality) by pretending to be Joseph who is saying “I am no longer thy brother, but the lover; nor will I be delayed the enjoyment of thee one moment longer.” (237) The passage under consideration belongs to one of the key chapters of the book; it expresses the resoluteness of one of the main heroines, Lady Booby, and strikes with the language in which the characters communicate.
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To begin with, though the chapter from which the passage comes from is not the last chapter of the book, it contains most of the information which helps to grasp the idea of the story. This chapter reminds of the last series in the soap operas or the key scenes of the movie. It is saturated with the events which are interrelated and which make the readers go back in their thoughts to the beginning of the book where everything started and where young Joseph and Fanny fell in love with each other and were separated: “Nothing can be imagined more tender than was the parting between these two lovers. A thousand sighs heaved the bosom of Joseph, a thousand tears distilled from the lovely eyes of Fanny.” (24) Another matter raised in this chapter is that Joseph and Fanny could be relatives; this matter raises concern in the readers and makes them wonder about the truthfulness of this fact. This chapter resolves one of the main conflicts presented in Book IV, namely bloody relationship between Fanny and Joseph.
One more issue raised by this book is the determined character of Lady Booby. Despite her name, Lady Booby turned out to be quite smart, because she used all the possible means to make Joseph abandon Fanny and fall in love with her instead. Her hiring a person to seduce Fanny once again proves her resoluteness and firmness of her character. All the troubles which Lady Booby was trying to cause to Joseph and Fanny were simply connected with her desire to possess everything she wanted. Acting like a spoiled child, she wanted to possess Joseph who once had rejected her. As the plot develops, Lady Booby tried to get him back, though all her tries were fruitless. Nevertheless, the reader can hardly fail to notice how strong she is emotionally and how much of fighting spirit she displays when, on hearing the noise in the house raised by Didapper and Slipslop, “she slipt on a nightgown, petticoat, and slippers, and taking a candle, which always burnt in her chamber, in her hand, she walked undauntedly to Slipslop’s room.” (238) This makes Lady Booby an outstanding character and lets admire her courage, regardless of some flaws of her character.
Lastly, not only the chapter in question, but the whole book strikes with the language it is written in. The most interesting is the fact that the author’s comments are written in Modern English, while some cues of the characters are in Late Middle English which is more characteristic of Shakespeare. This not only adds the book originality, but helps the reader get imbued with the atmosphere of the 18th-centruy London. The poetic language, the language of love, where “thou” is used instead of “you” and “thee” stands for the objective form of “you”, as well as other words pronounced in such a manner, bring the reader back to those times when pure love was the essence of people’s life: “O, thou delightful charming creature! If Heaven had indulged thee to my arms, the poorest, humblest state would have been paradise…” (31) Such a language makes the book unique, adding it expressiveness, fascination, and charm typical for the English literature of the 18th century.
In sum, the passage under consideration expresses much more than it seems on the first glance. It reveals the plot of the story letting the reader recollect the beginning of Book I when Joseph and Fanny first fell in love. Moreover, the chapter the passage belongs to proves how determined one of the characters, Lady Booby, was in her decision to make Joseph fall in love with her and how courageous this woman was. Finally, the passage and the whole book contain the words written (and pronounced by the characters) in Late Middle English, which adds charm and expressiveness to the book.
Fielding, Henry. Joseph Andrews. New York: Courier Dover Publications, 2001.