Study Guide

Joseph Andrews Courage

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I would advise you to lay aside that fierce air; for I am mightily deceived, if this lady had not a violent desire to get your worship a good drubbing. (2.4.38)

Horatio tells it like it is: appearances can be deceiving, and courage doesn't count for much when it's all just an act.

I believe the rascal is a coward, tho' he pretends to be in love forsooth. (2.9.2)

Typical Fielding. He loves to write about hypocrisy—and particularly hypocrisy about courage. Only a page later, the gentleman huntsman will show his own cowardice by running away as soon as he hears a lady screaming in the distance.

Do you consider this gun is only charged with shot, and that the robbers are probably furnished with pistols loaded with bullets? (2.9.2)

It's tough to be brave when your enemies have better weapons, but not to worry: Parson Adams has a plan. One attribute of courage seems to be the ability to think even when you're under a lot of stress.

[…] she began to fear as great an enemy in her deliverer, as he had delivered her from […]. (2.10.1)

Although we hear all the time about how fearful Fanny is, she's actually a pretty courageous gal. After all, she left her home and traveled miles to find Joseph on the open road. Even the men who do this get into all kinds of trouble; it takes some extra doses of courage for a young woman to go out alone, without any kind of protection.

[…] Nay, he is unacquainted with the history of some great men living, who, tho' brave as lions, ay, as tigers, have run away the Lord knows how far, to the suprize of their friends, and the entertainment of their enemies. (3.6.4)

Here's Fielding with the razor-sharp wit, once again. You can be brave and still peace out once the going gets tough. True bravery is sticking around even when you don't feel like it, and even when you might get hurt.

Joseph answered with great intrepidity, that they had first fallen on his friend […]. (3.6.10)

You can bet your britches that Joseph's going to come to his friend's defense. A good defense is the best offense, right?

[Joseph] bid her fear nothing: for he would die in her defence. (3.9.1)

Unfortunately for Joseph, courage only gets you so far. He's outnumbered, plain and simple. Are there times when it's foolish to be courageous? When do you decide that it's just time to lie low?

When it was opened, they discovered the enemy drawn up three deep; Adams in the front, and Fanny in the rear. (3.9.2)

After getting in a few kerfuffles, the three fast friends have their battle strategies down pat. We'd like to point out that Fanny is part of the team here, so all that BS about her being timid and scared all the time is, well, BS.

[…] stripping off his coat challenged him to fight; but the captain refused, saying he did not understand boxing. (3.12.6)

Yeah, sure. We'll bet Joseph's not a formally trained boxer, but he sure seems to know his way around the ring. More of Parson Adams's training? Hey, it helps to be prepared: courage will only get you so far, but if you know your moves, you've got a better chance of actually getting through whatever trouble you find yourself in.

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