Study Guide

Joseph Andrews Plot Analysis

By Henry Fielding

Plot Analysis

Exposition (Initial Situation): Playing Footsie with the Footman

Joseph's got a pretty sweet gig as a footman for Sir Thomas Booby. Sure, Lady Booby has the hots for him, but he's the talk of London-town. After Sir Thomas dies, Joseph's just managing to hold off Lady Booby when she abruptly fires him. The lady's a fickle mistress.

Conflict: On the Road Again

Joseph hits the road in search of his one true love, Fanny Goodwill. His beloved is holed up at Lady Booby's country estate, but that's a long way from London. How will Joseph make it through a maze of storms, thieving ruffians, and angry innkeepers? His first day on the road ends with him lying naked and beaten in a ditch. Not exactly a good start.

Complication: Parson Adams is Packin' Heat

By a total stroke of luck, Parson Adams runs into Joseph after his near-fatal injury. Once he heals up, the pair plans to take on the world together—or at least travel to the Booby country estate together. Adams causes at least as many problem as he solves, though. The bumbling parson forgets his horse, forgets to pay for his horse, and gets into fights with innkeepers. Will these dudes ever get to the Booby's?

Climax (Crisis, Turning Point): The Crabstick Prevails While Justice Fails

Always the chivalrous hero, Parson Adams comes to the aid of a young woman being attacked by a stranger. With the aid of his trusty crabstick, Adams knocks some sense into that fool. The grateful young lady turns out to be none other than Fanny Goodwill. But a group of bird-batters mistake the two for criminals and haul them to justice. Joseph and Fanny have never been so near and yet so far from each other.

Falling Action: Lady Booby Nearly Wrecks It

Lady Booby has to take one last stab at sabotaging Fanny and Joseph's impending nuptials. With the help of the dastardly lawyer Scout, she schemes to have the pair thrown in Bridewell, a notorious prison. Well, she'd rather have Fanny locked away and Joseph spared for her own nefarious plans, but it's both of them who get framed for a minor crime.

Resolution (Denouement): Pamela's No Sham(ela)

Pamela and her new hunky husband, Mr. Booby, are initially skeptical that Fanny and Joseph are meant to be. But Mr. Booby clears their names, regardless, and he prevents them from being thrown in Bridewell. Even better, the mysterious peddler emerges with a story to tell: Fanny is actually Joseph's parents' daughter (bear with us), and Joseph is the son of Mr. Wilson. So that settles it: Joseph and Fanny finally get hitched.

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