Picaresque in Joseph Andrews

Topics: Don Quixote, Novel, Joseph Andrews Pages: 3 (1265 words) Published: December 20, 2012
Joseph Andrewsis a picaresque novel of the road; the title page tells us that it was "Written in Imitation of the Manner of CERVANTES, Author of Don Quixote." Despite its looseness of construction, however, Joseph Andrews does make a deliberate move from the confusion and hypocrisy of London to the open sincerity of the country; one might perhaps apply Fielding's own words in a review he wrote of Charlotte Lennox'sThe Female Quixote: ". . . here is a regular story, which, though possibly it is not pursued with that epic regularity which would give it the name of an action, comes nearer to that perfection than the loose unconnected adventures in Don Quixote; of which you may transverse the order as you please, without an injury to the whole." This journey is undertaken in more than a simply geographical sense. Fielding takes his characters through a series of confusing episodes, finally aligning them with their correct partners in an improved social setting, from which the most recalcitrant characters are excluded; the characters, for the most part, have all measured and achieved a greater degree of self-knowledge. Thus the marriage of Fanny to a more experienced Joseph takes place in an ideal setting — the country — and is facilitated by the generosity of an enlightened Mr. Booby. Lady Booby, unchanged and unreformed, returns to London, excluding herself from the society which Fielding has reshaped. It is often the business of comedy to correct excess, and Fielding has not spared the devious practices of a lawyer Scout, or the boorish greed of a Parson Trulliber. But his comedy includes a sense of delight, and the order into which he molds Joseph Andrews is a positive affirmation of the qualities of love, charity, and sincerity, expressed by Adams, Joseph, and Fanny. It is the active virtue (in Adams' case, it is flawed by just the right amount of vanity and inconsistency) of Adams, Joseph, and Fanny that redeems this book from the flock of hypocrites that...
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