Summary and Analysis Book I: Chapter 1



Fielding tells us that examples are often better teachers than precepts and thus he defends the practice of biography, claiming that such books communicate valuable patterns of virtue to a wide public. He lists several biographies, including those of Colley Cibber and Pamela Andrews, as examples of male virtue and female chastity. Fielding reinforces his opening argument and introduces his own work by remarking that it was by keeping his sister's excellent example of virtue before him that Joseph Andrews was able to preserve his own purity.


Whatever the conduct of Joseph Andrews may prove to be, the virtue of chastity did not belong to Colley Cibber. This is made clear by the cutting remark that concludes the opening chapter. In this way, Fielding launches immediately on his main theme — that is, the discrepancy between appearance and reality — by mocking Colley Cibber, who in his autobiography called Fielding "a broken wit." In this way, Fielding throws a shadow on Pamela's chastity also, and we see that the genesis of Joseph Andrews is due to Fielding's hatred of hypocrisy.