Although from a humble background, the handsome and amiable Joseph has some education and high moral standards. He is the brother of the famous Pamela Andrews, who has resisted the sexual advances of her employer and as a result ended up marrying him. Like Pamela, Joseph is chaste and will not give up his virtue to an upper-class predator. As a result, he is fired from his job and embarks on a series of adventures.
Mr. Abraham (Parson) Adams is a learned clergyman who has studied Latin and Greek and who is much beloved by his parishioners for his upright character and Christian charity. He is a poor man who has not made his way in the world because he refuses to compromise his principles. He takes Joseph Andrews on as his parishioner and pupil and, because of chance circumstances, ends up accompanying him on his adventures.
Fanny Goodwill is a humble but beautiful dairy maid who is engaged to Joseph Andrews and loves him fiercely. She is an orphan who has been brought up on the Booby estate, but in the recent past she was fired by Mrs. Slipslop. When Fanny learns that Joseph has been injured by robbers, she leaves her post and comes looking for him. Fanny is rescued from a rape attempt by Parson Adams when he meets her on the road, and she accompanies him and Joseph on the rest of their journey.
Lady Booby is an archetypal villainess who notices Joseph Andrews when he is 17 and makes him her footman. When her husband dies and Joseph is 21, she attempts to seduce him with no success and throws him out of her house and removes him from his post. When Joseph returns to her parish after being on the road and prepares to marry Fanny Goodwill, she does her best to break up the couple, even going so far as to have them arrested on trumped-up charges.
Mr. Wilson is a former rake and now a country squire whom Joseph meets on his journeys. Mr. Wilson offers Joseph Andrews, Parson Adams, and Fanny Goodwill hospitality. Parson Adams listens to his entire story through the night, which is one of the progress of a rake who finally reforms himself with the help of a good woman. Wilson has retired to the country with this woman, now his wife, and has a family. At the end of the story, Joseph learns that Mr. Wilson is his biological father.