Study Guide

Joseph Andrews Violence

By Henry Fielding

Violence

Mrs. Tow-wouse then armed herself with the spit: but was prevented from executing any dreadful purpose by Mr. Adams […]. (1.17.6)

For once, Adams prevents violence rather than causes it. Good thing: Mrs. Tow-wouse could have done a lot of damage with that spit.

Then she thought of revenging his refusal on herself; but whilst she was engaged in this meditation, happily death presented himself to her in so many shapes of drowning, hanging, poisoning &c. that her distracted brain could resolve on none. (1.18.10)

Betty might be the slightest bit unbalanced. It seems like there's a comparison being drawn between lust and violence. Actually, how different are those things? Where does lust end and violence begin? Fanny could probably tell you a few things about that…

Horatio desired Bellarmine to withdraw with him: but the ladies prevented it by laying violent hands on the latter. (2.4.40)

It's funny how the ladies prevent violence with… violence. Sure, we're talking a duel versus "violent hands" (translation: a fistfight), but it seems there's just one way to deal with the situation for these people.

Upon which he laid violent hands on Adams, and dragged him into the hogs-stye, which was indeed but two steps from his parlour window. (2.14.2)

Based on the two examples we get of parsons, those dudes sure seem to have have some violent tendencies. What gives? Aren't these guys supposed to be, you know, charitable and nonviolent?

Joseph now drew forth his penknife, and Adams, having finished his ejaculations, grasped his crabstick […]. (3.2.7)

Both these guys are terrified out of their wits. There's safety in numbers, which may account for their sudden bravado. (Don't let Freud get his hands on this sentence, folks.)

The captain, who was not accustomed to this kind of play, and who wisey apprehended the consequence of such another blow, two of them seeming equal to a thrust through the body, drew forth his hanger […]. (3.9.2)

If you ever doubted how fierce the Fearsome Twosome (that's Joseph and Adams) are, take a gander at this description of their prowess.

He then grasped a cudgel in his hand, and catching the captain by the collar with the other, gave him a most severe drubbing, and ended with telling him, he now had some revenge for what his dear Fanny had suffered. (3.12.6)

Whoa there, Joseph. This is not the naïve kid who started out as a footman; he's gotten a little more assertive on his journey. Does it seem like the violence here is an appropriate response, given what almost happened to Fanny? Do people actually listen to reason in this novel? Why or why not?

When Fanny saw her Joseph receive a blow in his face, and blood running in a stream from him, she began to tear her hair, and invoke all human and divine power to his assistance. (4.7.6)

Dang. If Fanny has her way, Joseph's gonna have a pretty sweet Dream Team at his service. More importantly, though, we can tell that Fanny doesn't just have the hots for Joseph; she actually loves him. It's clear by the way she reacts when she sees him get hurt.

Joseph was of a different complexion, and begged Adams to let his rival come on; for he had a good cudgel in his hand, and did not fear him. (4.11.1)

Joseph is basically dependent on his cudgel. You might say it's an extension of himself—a particularly sharp and merciless extension of himself. Why do the guys in this novel need weapons like this?

The beau now sheathed his hanger, and taking out a pocket-glass, and vowing vengeance all the time, re-adjusted his hair […]. (4.11.1)

There's usually a clear winner and loser in the fights Joseph has. Not to brag, but it seems like Joseph's got an edge on the competition. Is that because he's so much stronger than everyone else, or is it because he's morally in the right, and that just translates to strength symbolically?

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