Study Guide

Joseph Andrews Lust

By Henry Fielding

Lust

What riches, or honours, or pleasures can make us amends for the loss of innocence? (1.13.5)

Joseph seems to be totally struggling with lust and sexuality here. Sure, he's just successfully resisted Lady Booby, but he has to write to his virtuous sister to make sure he doesn't slip. We'll also be real here: a girl's virginity was way more important than a guy's back then (some habits die hard), so there's supposed to be something kind of humorous about Joseph taking such serious advice from oh-so-virtuous Pamela.

I do assure your ladyship, I don't know whether any maid in the house is man or woman. (1.8.7)

Really, Joseph? We'll translate: Joseph is saying that he's so innocent he doesn't even know the difference between male and female. This lad may exaggerate too much, especially since he later writes a letter about the difficulty of resisting temptation to Pamela.

[…] Til that fatal evening when, as she was warming his bed, her passion grew to such a height, and so perfect mastered both her modesty and reason […]. (1.18.7)

Betty is the third lady to make a play for Joseph. Sounds like it's a Florence Nightingale situation—she nurses him back to health and starts thinking he's pretty hot.

Rage and lust pulled her heart, as with two strings, two different ways; one moment she thought of stabbing Joseph, the next, of taking him in her arms, and devouring him with kisses. (1.18.10)

Let's hope she doesn't do either. You may have heard that love and hate are two sides of the same coin: most people probably have at least one ex they just can't stand to see anymore. Joseph might be in more danger than he realizes.

[…] he desired her to stop, and after some rude kisses, which she resisted, and some entreaties, which she rejected, he laid violent hands on her […]. (2.9.5)

The creepy difference between the women who lust for Joseph and the men who lust for Fanny is that Fanny is subject to these kinds of attacks throughout the book. Also, while Joseph escapes the clutches of the novel's lusty ladies pretty easily, Fanny is in constant danger from men who want to take her by force.

[…] and indeed, reader, if thou art of an amorous hue, I advise thee to skip over the next paragraph […]. (2.12.2)

Fielding is basically suggesting that his readers are already starting to lust over Fanny. Way to appeal to your audience, buddy. Anyway, sounds like he expected most of his readers to be men… which was pretty much the case back in the eighteenth century.

Nothing now seemed to remain but an intrigue, which I was resolved to have immediately; I mean the reputation of it, and indeed I was so successful, that in a very short time I had half a dozen with the finest women in town. (3.3.7)

This is something new: Wilson doesn't seem especially motivated by lust, but he wants to cultivate a lustful reputation. Some things never change: while the ladies of the novel have to do their lusting in secret, even the guys who aren't total randy Andys have to pretend to be in order to get some respect.

We presently understood one another; and as the pleasures we sought lay in a mutual gratification, we soon found and enjoyed them. (3.3.16)

Wilson talks about fulfilling his lust in a way that takes notice of both partners. Now there's a thought. You may have noticed that while Fielding makes fun of people who lust inappropriately (it's clear that Joseph and Lady Booby, for example, are a ridiculous match), he seems pretty okay with sex in general.

[..] the squire thought he should easily accomplish, what he had, when he first saw her, intended to perpetrate with Fanny. (3.7.1)

That dastardly squire. He's even more conniving than the other guys who have tried to pull stuff with Fanny. Once again we see how Fanny is in way more danger than Joseph ever is.

She started from her sleep, her imagination being all on fire with the phantom, when her eyes accidentally glancing towards the spot where yesterday the true Joseph had stood, that little circumstance raised his idea in the liveliest colours in her memory. (4.1.6)

Lady Booby's willing to marry Joseph to satisfy her lust. Or does her attachment to Joseph go beyond lust? We think it's most likely that Fielding's joke is that Lady Booby wants to marry Joseph just to get him in the sack—and not so much because she's found her true love.

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