An Analysis of the Character of Lady Booby in the Book Joseph Andrews by Henry Fielding

In Book One of Joseph Andrews, the ridiculous antics of the upper class are demonstrated through the silly and melodramatic episodes of a miss Lady Booby and her handsome footman, Joseph. The genuine essence of Lady Booby represents the era’s falsely advertised assertion that the higher-ranking population contained superior moral merits, most evident in their reputation, Under this notion, the hierarchy of society equates wealth with manners, as one quality is coupled with the other. The nobility engendered the perception of honor and righteousness; yet, the authenticity of a man’s true nature is tested in the absence of the public eye.

A good reputation stems from the opinion of others, regardless of its compliance with the qualities it wishes to portray. Living in the urban backdrop of London, Lady Booby lives a double life: the public image and her private identity. Class conventions keep the behavior of Lady Booby honorable, but only to the extent of the city’s social norms.

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Behind closed doors, however, she acts with the notion that her vices are protected, given that “the world will never know of the matter.” In her predatory pursuit of her footman Joseph, the true nature of Lady Booby contradicts her upper status’ good name as her flaws are faced with the unfaltering morality of a man exempt from the privileges of social status and its given prestige. Lady Booby’s characterization is largely amplified in her episodes of overt affections and subsequent rejections from Joseph. What was initially a working dynamic, Joseph’s presence was merely for his Ladyship’s service in her everyday needs in London.

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Before the death of her husband, the extent of their affections went no further than “all those innocent freedoms, which women of figure may permit without the least sully of their virtue.” In these occasional indulgences, only perceptible to Lady Booby, towards Joseph’s “handsornest and genteelest” physique, their divide was more than a social one. Joseph’s intentions “never offered to encroach beyond the liberties, which his lady allowed him.” After her husband died, Lady Booby became “confined to her house, as if she had been attacked by  some violent disease.”

However, this was merely upholding a class convention, showing a falsely melancholy state in reaction to the loss of her husband, In actuality, Lady Booby was with I’three female friends, who made a party at cards” and her indifference to her late husband’s death seemed of little importance to her life, Now separated from marriage, Lady Booby utilized her newly single circumstances to give herself the opportunity of satisfying her constant allure to her loyal footman, J osephi With passionate and self-serving motives, Lady Booby’s lust for the young and innocent Joseph gave no hesitation in regards to her facade of decorum. The condescending expectations of Lady Booby and her physical temptations failed to affect Joseph‘s pure nature, She assumed he would be honored to oblige his Lady’s wishes and even desire her womanly charmsi Instead, he shocked her egocentric intentions and rejected her aggressive advances in order to protect the sanctity of his untainted virtuesi Unwilling to accept these conditions, she exclaims, l’in order to honor you with the highest favour in her power, your virtue should resist her inclination? That, when she had conquered her own virtue, she should find an obstruction in yours?” Joseph proves to be more pure and righteous than she, exemplified in his refusal to succumb to such behaviort His demeanor remained professional, subservient, and devoutly chaste. His steadfast morality infuriated the Lady, who so desperately sought to defile his unwavering principles. Lady Booby‘s life had thus far been dependent on her social distinction’s power and luxuries; subsequently, his chastity came as an outrageous rebuff to her dignity. Considering her own disregard for a present but inactive “rule of decency,” the virtues of Joseph expose Lady Booby’s vices, which symbolize the aristocracy as a whole.

The social inequality of Joseph and Lady Booby are proven to be an irrelevant factor in the actuality of their opposing inherent moral worth The motives of both differentiate, as Joseph lives with morality as a trait whilst Lady Booby performs its duties in the workings of her reputation Otherwise unaccountable in her hypocrisy, Lady Booby’s high birth produces a guise of virtues only active in the presence of formalities Her corruption is a comic one, aided by the melodramatic plot lines that provoke her emotional instability and lack of social graces. Lady Booby’s exploitations of Joseph are comical means to her eventual punishment, as Joseph’s rejections force an uninvited amount of self-awareness and moral responsibility She now must consider her actions, disclosing how degraded she feels in her participation in such an inferior scenario, She states, “Have I not exposed myself to the refusal of my footman? I cannot bear the reflection.” Regardless of these corrupted attributes, Lady Booby is not a villain, but rather a mirror to the urban aristocracy’s shortage of etiquette beyond social conventionality. Crippled by a lifestyle of ease, pride, and superficiality, the behavior of Lady Booby impulsively reacts to a situation of unknown territories, As a lesson to the reader, the two character’s varying ideals come face to face in the privacy of Lady Booby’s home, an intimate setting that caters to the lesson at hand Joseph’s ability to remain wholly chaste is manifested in his firm refusal to obey the “violent passions” of his employer, Lady Booby’s belligerent inclinations are engendered by her birthright’s self-serving predispositions, exposing the fraudulent reality of the upper class populations, , The contrast between Lady Booby and Andrew Joseph gives a moral and social context to illustrate the existence of good nature and its ability to persevere the conditions of corruption.

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An Analysis of the Character of Lady Booby in the Book Joseph Andrews by Henry Fielding. (2022, Jul 15). Retrieved from

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