The Characteristics of Joseph Andrews

             In Fielding's Joseph Andrews you see a variety of characters. They range from the shallow, vain and proud characters like Lady Booby and Mrs. Slipslop to the innocent, sincere, and virtuous like Joseph and Fanny. The presence of Lady Booby, and all of the people like her that are portrayed in the same selfish and dishonest way, bring out the importance of the clergy. Most of the clergy that we meet in the story don't fit our vision of "holy people”. They didn't fit Fielding's vision either. Parson Adams is the only character that represents what Fielding considers to be the proper role for the clergy. He believes that the proper role for the clergy is that they should give moral guidance and they should be virtuous and charitable.

             There are many examples of charity made by Parson Adams because Fielding believes that charity is part of the proper role for the clergy. But I think that Adams will stand out more if I show how uncharitable the rest of the characters are. While at The Dragon Inn, Joseph meets Mr. and Mrs. Tow-wouse. Mr. Tow-wouse is the owner of the inn and for his brief presence in the book he is good-natured, unlike his wife who is greedy and very uncharitable. When her husband gets a shirt to clothe naked Joseph she states, "Common charity teaches us to provide for ourselves and our families; and I and mine won't be ruined by your charity, I assure you” (93). .

             Later on, Joseph meets Mr. Barnabas. He is a clergyman but a disgrace when compared to Adams. Adams' office as a clergyman is important because "no other office could have given him so many opportunities of displaying his worthy inclinations” (95). Barnabas is sent to Joseph's room in the inn to comfort him because he has been severely and is expected to die. But Barnabas is more interested in punch than his duties. Even the servant, Betty, is more charitable than the parson. Even though it is his job to set a good example and forgive other people for their sins, he is just a drunk who is also in need of being saved and forgiven.

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