Literature Study GuidesJoseph AndrewsBook 3 Chapters 7 9 Summary

Joseph Andrews | Study Guide

Henry Fielding

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Joseph Andrews | Book 3, Chapters 7–9 | Summary

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Summary

Book 3, Chapter 7

The squire attempts to get Fanny Goodwill to sit at his table, but she refuses, and Parson Adams insists the couple eat in the kitchen. The narrator provides a character sketch of the 40-year-old country gentleman of considerable fortune, who has been spoiled from an early age by his mother and tutor and is altogether a vicious character. He amuses himself with hunting and riding and surrounds himself with a group of "curs," misfits whose job it is to make other people look ridiculous. These fellows did "no great honor to the canine kind." During dinner they begin playing practical jokes on Parson Adams, which become progressively crueler and culminate in dunking him in a tub of water. At the last, Adams finally realizes he is being ridiculed. He gets some revenge by dunking the squire a few times before leaping from the tub. The parson collects Joseph and Fanny and quickly leaves.

Book 3, Chapter 8

The squire had planned to get Joseph Andrews and Parson Adams drunk so that he could rape Fanny Goodwill. He is furious about their escape and sends some of his curs out to retrieve Fanny. The escaped trio stops at an inn to rest and eat because Adams thinks he still has the gold coin in his pocket from Mrs. Wilson, which she had kindly slipped into their packed lunch.

A traveler who is a Roman Catholic priest in disguise opens a conversation with Adams and delivers a sermon on the uselessness of riches, to which Parson Adams heartily agrees. The traveler now asks Adams to pay his bill, and the parson is glad to oblige, except he finds his pocket is empty since one of the curs at their last stop has robbed him.

Book 3, Chapter 9

The parson doesn't consider the problem of paying, which he will face in the morning, and retires to bed. Close to morning, three of the squire's curs—whom the narrator identifies as the captain, the poet, and the player—knock on the door of the inn, claiming that Fanny Goodwill has been abducted by Joseph Andrews and Parson Adams. The ruffians come upstairs with three servants. Joseph and Adams put up a good fight to defend Fanny, but they are two against six, and Joseph is knocked unconscious. Fanny is dragged out, crying and tearing her hair, and the servants tie up Joseph and the parson.

Analysis

These chapters are painful reading by any account, in which Parson Adams is tormented and then humiliated by an unruly group of men. After Adams's party makes a getaway, they come back to the inn to abduct Fanny Goodwill so their leader can rape her. The narrator has pointed out earlier that he wishes to write a universal story, with characters taken from life—archetypes that can be found in any time and place. The narrator says the squire took delight in "everything ... ridiculous, odious, and absurd in his own species" and looked for ways to force people into a situation in which they appeared absurd. The squire's yes-men have the job of "turn[ing] even virtue and wisdom themselves into ridicule, for the diversion of their master and feeder."

The men in Henry Fielding's story are shrewd, and one of them has honed his cruelty to a fine art, guessing Adams's Achilles' heel—his vanity about his learning. Thus, he engineers a prank in which the clergyman thinks he will be reenacting a Greek ceremony that requires he sit on a throne while he holds forth. This leads to his unfortunate dunking. While the reader knows Adams is to blame for falling for this trick, the reader never stops sympathizing with the parson. The narrator skillfully uses ironic language to show that it is not the parson who should be laughed at, but rather the creatures who are masquerading as human beings.

In the interlude between the time Adams and his party escape and the ruffians return for Fanny, Parson Adams speaks to a Roman Catholic priest who is traveling in disguise. Fielding is pointing out that Roman Catholics were persecuted in this era and could not practice their faith openly. The author may have put an antimaterialism speech in the mouth of a priest because Anglicans and other Protestants criticized the Roman Catholic Church for its opulence (thus, the speech could be viewed as verbal and situational irony). Or Fielding may have given the speech to a priest to show that the precepts of Christianity are the same across denominations.

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