Study Guide

Joseph Andrews Appearances

By Henry Fielding

Appearances

He was of the highest degree of middle stature. (1.8.4)

What's the highest degree of middle stature? Sounds like Joseph's the most average of the average. Nothing really stands out about him, though he's got a pleasing face. But you could also read it this way: Joseph may only be of average height, but because he's so cute, he still seems like the exemplar of average height. Nobody does average height better than he does.

His hair was a nut-brown colour, and was displayed in wanton ringlets down his back. (1.8.4)

Sounds like Shirley Temple to us, but seriously, Joseph's "wanton ringlets" suggest that while he's careless about his appearance, he's still awfully attractive to the lady-folk.

Leonora was […] tall and well-shaped, with a sprightliness in her countenance, which often attracts beyond more regular features joined with an inspid air […]. (2.4.1)

Leonora's spirit is the most attractive thing about her. (Maybe it's the same spirit that prompts her to throw away Horatio.) Joseph is similar: sure, he's hot, but what makes him extra hot is that he's not really aware of how hot he is.

Fanny was now in her nineteenth year of her age; she was tall and delicately shaped; but not one of those slender young women, who seem rather intended to hang up in the hall of anatomist, than for any other purpose. (2.12.2)

There are lots of distinctions in Joseph Andrews about gentility. Fanny's the kind of lass who is totally fine walking miles on the road—which, paradoxically, makes her seem a bit less of a lady than she really is.

Her complexion was fair, a little injured by the sun, but overspread with such a bloom, that the finest ladies would have exchanged all their white for it […]. (2.12.3)

Fanny's got a certain something that all the ladies want. It sounds like her lower-class appearance is more appealing because of its naturalness. Now that's a novel idea.

The beautiful young lady, the morning, now rose from her bed, and with a countenance blooming with fresh youth and sprightliness, like Miss ___. (3.4.2)

The footnote to this line adds that the reader can fill in the blank. How about Miss Shrek? The point seems to be, though, that these kinds of descriptions could be used on pretty much anyone. What makes someone interesting, for Fielding, isn't what they look like; it's who they are inside.

The squire and all the horsemen were so suprized with her beauty, that they immediately fixed both their eyes and thoughts solely on her, every one declaring he had never seen so charming a creature. (3.6.10)

We told you Fanny makes an impression. She seems to cast the same spell on men that Joseph casts on women. Do any of these guys—Joseph aside—really care who Fanny is, though? Or do they just want her because she's hot?

It was almost morning when Joseph Andrews, whose eyes the thoughts of his dear Fanny had opened, as he lay fondly meditating on that lovely creature […]. (3.9.1)

Joseph definitely isn't immune to Fanny's charms, even after all this time. Now here's a question: would Joseph want Fanny if she were fugz? Even if she had a good heart? How about vice-versa?

She no sooner saw Joseph, than her cheeks glow'd with red, and immediately after became as totally pale. (4.1.1)

That's a whole range of colors. Lady Booby is so into Joseph that she's physically affected by his presence.

[…] Mr. Booby launched forth into such rapturous praises of her beauty. (4.6.1)

Well, that's a little concerning. Mr. B. is married to Pamela and talking about Fanny. If you're following the plot from Pamela, this same type of nonsense caused lots of problems there (hint: Mr. B. is kind of a lecher).

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