Written by Henry Fielding in 1742, Joseph Andrews is one of the earliest novels in the English language. Defined by Fielding as a comic epic poem in prose, it tells the story of the titular Joseph Andrews as he travels home from London with his absent-minded friend and mentor, parson Abraham Adams. Being a combination of mock-heroic and domestic prose fiction, and inspired by Samuel Richardson's Pamela, or Virtue Rewarded, many silly adventures ensue.
The main plot revolves around the romantic (mis)adventures of Joseph. While employed as a horseman for Lady Booby, she tries to seduce him, but he proves to be too chaste to fall for her, and he is promptly fired and evicted. While on his way to his fiancee, Fanny, he is mugged, after which he meets up with parson Adams. Their stay at the inn is the first of many burlesque, slapstick moments in the novel. Among other things, Adams is accused of robbery and assault after heroically defeating a man assaulting Fanny, a jealous maid named Madam Slipslop plots revenge against Joseph, Adams is the subject of a hunt and subsequently undergoes a humiliating roasting, Fanny is almost kidnapped, and Adam's sermon on stoicism and fatalism emotion is upended with news of the death of his favorite son (who turns out to be fine after all).
The novel is interspersed with three sideplots, told by several characters to the main cast. Two of the tales turn out to be crucial to the parentage of Joseph and Fanny, which drives much of the comic misunderstandings around their wedding in the last part of the book.
- Badass Preacher: Played with. Most of the time, Parson Adams is a Cloudcuckoolander Wide-Eyed Idealist who never hesitates to put Honor Before Reason. However, he is more than able to hold his ground in a fistfight, and becomes a Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass when his protégé Joseph is threatened.
- Berserk Button: Do NOT threaten Fanny in front of either Joseph or Adams.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Parson Adams most of the time.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Parson Adams, when provoked.
- Double Entendre: A lot. Especially in the part where Joseph was found naked after a highway robbery and wad made fun of by the people who saved him.
- Get Thee to a Nunnery: The part where Joseph was found naked after a highway robbery, an old gentleman who finds him thinks he would "afford him frequent opportunities of showing his wit". "Wit" meant penis in the Elizabethan slang.
- Have a Gay Old Time: In the part where "she clapped a large faggotnote on the fire".
- Lady Booby's name also works, since booby meant stupid back then.
- Honor Before Reason: Parson Adams.
- Long Title: The History of the Adventures of Joseph Andrews and of his Friend Mr. Abraham Adams.
- Mrs. Robinson: Lady Booby.
- Now It's My Turn: Parson Adams.
- Spell My Name with a Blank: Throughout the book.
- Surprise Incest: First played straight with Joseph and Fanny, but later subverted.
- Take That!: This novel was a parody on Samuel Richardson's Pamela.
- Wide-Eyed Idealist: Parson Adams, oh so very much, although he does not always perform what he preaches.