Joseph Andrews By Henry Fielding Summary and Analysis Book IV: Chapters 15-16

Summary

Gaffar and Gammar Andrews arrive shortly after breakfast, and though Mr. Andrews denies that Fanny is his daughter, his wife confirms the peddler's story. Fanny, she says, was born when Mr. Andrews had been with the army in Gibraltar, and had been stolen by gypsies, who had left Joseph in Fanny's cradle. Mrs. Andrews raised Joseph as her own, and on his return from Gibraltar, Gaffar had not suspected that anything was amiss.

On hearing this, the peddler is curious to know whether Joseph has a birthmark, and Mrs. Andrews affirms that he bears the mark of a strawberry on his breast Something stirs in Adams' memory, but it is the peddler who tells Joseph that his parents are "persons of much greater circumstances than those he had hitherto mistaken for such; for that he had been stolen from a gentleman's house by those whom they call gypsies."

Mr. Wilson now arrives for his promised visit to Adams' parish, and on hearing the peddler's story, demands to see Joseph's birthmark. It is true: Mr. Wilson is none other than Joseph's father. Joseph receives his father's joyful blessing while the frustrated Lady Booby leaves the room in anguish.

The company travels to the country house of Mr. Booby, where a happy Mrs. Wilson joins them. Joseph and Fanny are married by Parson Adams and retire to live on a small estate purchased with the £2,000 which Mr. Booby gave to Fanny. Mr. Booby also gives Adams a decent living and sees to it that the peddler is made an exciseman. Lady Booby returns to London, where the combination of cards and a young captain soon obliterates the memory of Joseph.

Analysis

Joseph and Fanny settle in the country, the movement away from the town is complete; indeed, the social order is re-aligned in a manner typical of a Shakespearian comedy, where people find their true natures and their destiny after much confusion and wandering. The same sense of destiny has guided Joseph after his dismissal from Lady Booby's household to his true home and identity and the Wilsons and Mr. and Mrs. Booby have also found themselves, the former in their happiness in their restored son the latter in their "old English hospitality," which represents a genuine transformation in their characters. Justice is also done as we learn that the thief who assaulted Fanny as she was journeying to meet Joseph has been committed to Salisbury gaol. The end is Shakespearian too in that some things continue to be the same: Adams will always fall off his horse; Gaffar Andrews wants no more children than he can keep and is more interested in his pipe than in Fanny; and Lady Booby remains outside the readjusted scheme of things.

The fairy tale ending is an aspect of Fielding's control of his craft. The marriage of Joseph and Fanny may be contrived and idealistic, but it is sincere and unadorned; its order answers to what man wants to be and its simplicity to what man is. It is apt that Fielding closes his story with the clothing metaphor which has been so important throughout in revealing man for what he is: Joseph "refused all finery; as did Fanny likewise, who could be prevailed on by Pamela to attire herself in nothing richer than a white dimity nightgown.

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After Adams returns penniless from Pastor Trulliber's, who pays his bills at the inn?




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