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Relationship Analysis In Fielding’s Novel Joseph Andrews: Passion Versus Reason

1112 words - 5 pages

The sentimentalist novel subgenre was associated specifically to eighteenth century British literature—it emphasized sensibility, emotion, and virtue. Even though Henry Fielding, an eighteenth century British playwright and novelist, believes that people should be virtuous and honestly good, he satirizes the phoniness of sentimentalists because the basis of the relationships between characters in a sentimental novel was based on passion alone. For instance, in Samuel Richardson’s Pamela, Pamela’s pursuer, Mr.B— has a burning passion for her and after he cannot sleep with her out of lust, he forces her into marriage and the relationship works out. Fielding’s response was the novel, Joseph Andrews, a satire that through various examples of failed and successful relationships, distinguishes the fleeting benefits and sometimes disastrous results in pursuing a relationship out of naked passion without rationality and the long-term benefits that arise when reason is the basis of a relationship. Fielding feels that passion are weak and unreliable while rationality should be the main foundation of choice and action.
Fielding uses Lady Booby to symbolize passion and Joseph Andrews to symbolize reason in the relationship between mistress and footman. At the beginning of the story between Lady Booby and Joseph, it is obvious that Lady Booby is not acting upon reason when she attempts to seduce Joseph in her bedroom. She exposes herself and flirts with Joseph exclaiming after she has exposed her skin, “I have trusted myself with a Man alone, naked in Bed” (25).Passion guides her actions because she is convinced, upon insufficient knowledge that a handsome young man would not give up an opportunity of sleeping with his mistress. Lady Booby’s carnal attraction to the handsome Joseph is the passion that shrouds her reason to realize that if she were to seduce him or marry him, she would lower her status to that of a footman’s wife. In addition, she is blind by her lustful passion to consider that Joseph is not interested in sleeping with her because he cherishes his virtue (virginity) and is too sensible to do so. She asks Joseph whether he is not a Man for not wanting to sleep with her. When Joseph rejects her constant advancements, she never reasons with her feelings and is rash to act, led by her passion, she strips Joseph of his honor (his uniform) and dismisses him into the streets (35). The relationship between Joseph and Lady Booby shows that passion is unreliable in creating a stable relationship. In this scenario, because of Lady Booby’s raging passion of desire for Joseph, she was not even fleetingly appeased. She even recognizes the trouble she has caused, “Whither doth this violent Passion hurry us? What Meannesses do we submit to from its Impulse?” She has been humiliated by the rejection of her footman (36). Lady Booby disregards all moral and social proprieties to satisfy a fleshly hunger while Joseph reasons the situation and clearly...

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