Literature Study GuidesJoseph AndrewsBook 4 Chapters 9 12 Summary

Joseph Andrews | Study Guide

Henry Fielding

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Joseph Andrews | Book 4, Chapters 9–12 | Summary



Book 4, Chapter 9

The first gentleman who attacked Fanny Goodwill on the road, Mr. Beau Didapper, is a guest at Lady Booby's. When he talks about meeting a beauty nearby, Lady Booby knows he's talking about Fanny and thinks she might hatch a plot to bring them together. Thus she slyly arranges for her household to casually call at Parson Adams's house. Didapper is exceedingly short at 4 feet 5 inches and rather unattractive. When they get to the house and are invited in, Didapper is delighted to see Fanny. Lady Booby pretends to be interested in the parson's son Dick, who begins reading the company a story.

Book 4, Chapter 10

Dick reads about two friends who lose touch with each other but then are reunited by chance when Paul, an army officer, is stationed in Leonard's town. Leonard is married and asks his friend to come to his house and visit for a month. While he is there, Paul observes the couple fighting constantly over trifles. At first Paul doesn't interfere, but each half of the couple begins taking him aside and asking his opinion. He counsels both husband and wife to submit to the other for the sake of love. Although he preaches the doctrine of submission, he also assures both of them, privately, that they are in the right. This works for a while until the husband and wife begin comparing notes on their private conversations with Paul, and now they turn on him, blaming him for their quarrels. The story is interrupted.

Book 4, Chapter 11

Joseph has been watching Beau Didapper proposition his fiancée, and he has restrained himself for the sake of the company, but when the man puts his hands on Fanny Goodwill when he thinks no one is looking, he boxes his ear and sends him flying. Didapper draws his sword, and Adams takes up a pot lid as a shield to defend his parishioner. Joseph begs him to step aside and let him handle the interloper. Squire Booby asks Didapper to put his weapon away, and Lady Booby chides Joseph for defending Fanny over Didapper's minor offense. Fanny begins crying, and Joseph walks out with her, with the Booby party following shortly thereafter. Parson Adams is then berated by his wife and eldest daughter for his excessive love for his parishioners, which is ruining the family. When Joseph returns with Fanny and the peddler, he invites the Adams family out to dinner at a local alehouse.

Book 4, Chapter 12

The peddler has been asking questions about the Booby family and learns that Sir Thomas bought Fanny Goodwill at age three or four from a traveling woman. After the party finishes eating, he tells Fanny he knows who her parents are. In his younger days, the peddler was a drummer in an Irish infantry regiment, and he began a long-term relationship with a camp follower, with whom he lived with as man and wife until she died. On her deathbed she confessed she had previously traveled with a band of gypsies who were in the habit of stealing children. She herself stole one very beautiful child, who the gypsies kept about two years, until the woman sold her to Sir Thomas Booby when she was about four. The family the child belonged to was named Andrews, and they had another daughter named Pamela. At this news, Fanny faints, and Joseph Andrews becomes very pale, while Parson Adams falls on his knees to thank God the sin of incest has been avoided.


Not surprisingly, the blackguard Beau Didapper is a great friend of Lady Booby, who now thinks she might get rid of Fanny Goodwill by delivering the young woman to her fashionable friend. The unexpected visit to the Adams family is interrupted by a story about a couple at cross purposes and how, when the husband's friend tries to smooth things over, he ends up getting into trouble with both parties. This is an archetypal situation of the triangle in which one person is trying to keep two parties happy and smooth things over between them and is punished for his or her trouble. This inserted story is in some sense a prelude to the final comic scenes in Book 5, Chapter 14, in which humor is created by the mismatch of appearance and reality.

Joseph Andrews defends Fanny's honor once again in Book 4, Chapter 11, and Lady Booby's response to Didapper's sexual harassment is that it is nothing much for Joseph to become upset over: "I suppose he would have kissed the wench; and is a gentleman to be struck for such an offer? I must tell you, Joseph, these airs do not become you." Since Fanny is one of the low people, she merits no respect in Lady Booby's eyes, and any disrespect toward her can be excused.

After the Boobys leave and the Adams family and Joseph and Fanny go out to dinner with the peddler, the narrator begins unspooling the last of his plotline, which is full of surprises and faux reversals of fortune. The spectacular threat of incest is raised, something that is sure to put a damper on any love affair. The reader learns that Fanny has been stolen by gypsies, which turns the story into a sort of fairy tale, since gypsies were not in the habit of stealing children from the English countryside. In this regard, the author takes a page out of the Greek playbook. Sophocles, one of the three great Greek tragedians, wrote the Oedipus cycle, in which the worst kind of misfortune is brought down on a family because a son separated from his family accidentally marries his mother in later life. But Joseph Andrews is a comedy, not a tragedy, so Fanny simply faints away with the thought that Joseph is her brother, and the parson falls to his knees in thanksgiving.

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