Study Guide

Joseph Andrews Lust

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The ladies are the lustful ones in Joseph Andrews. Sure, the men (besides Joseph) have their fair share of randy moments, but the women are the ones who actually indulge their feelings. Take Lady Booby, for instance: she makes a pretty bold move by inviting Joseph into her bedroom while she's naked. Or consider Mrs. Slipslop, who makes a pretty straightforward play for Joseph at the beginning of the book.

In a society where lust often has serious social ramifications, what's the deal with these women? Lady Booby, at least, has a lot to lose. That should tell us a lot about how tempting Joseph is, first and foremost. But Fielding is also totally making fun of Samuel Richardson's Pamela, where the virtuous heroine tries to withstand a lot of unwholesome male attention. It's as if Fielding is saying, "Hey, this is the eighteenth century: everybody's got sex on the brain. Some of us just deal with it better than others."

Of course, in Lady Booby and Mrs. Slipslop, we do also see these women taking control (if you can call it that) of their sex lives in a way that isn't totally typical—or representative—of eighteenth-century life. If Lady Booby really pulled a stunt like seducing Joseph, she probably would have some major consequences to face up to—if anybody ever found out, anyway.

Questions About Lust

  1. Is Lady Booby's lust for Joseph about more than just finding him attractive? Why might she take this risk? How much of a risk is it?
  2. Is Joseph lustful toward Fanny, or is he totally pure? Is Fanny lustful toward Joseph?
  3. Is there a class difference in terms of how lust is expressed?

Chew on This

Mrs. Slipslop stops lusting after Joseph because she realizes he's the key to manipulating her mistress.

Unlike most things in the novel, lust isn't regulated by desire for social status.

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