The Name Says it All
What is a woman to do when the man she pines for sees her not as an object of affection, but instead as a motherly figure? Joseph, the title character of Henry Fielding's Joseph Andrews, returns none of the sentiments felt towards him by Mrs. Slipslop, a forty-five year old maid, and instead tells her that he has "always loved you as well as if you had been my own mother" (Book 1 27). The idea that the young, handsome Joseph would hold a passion for the unattractive Mrs. Slipslop is laughable, as is Mrs. Slipslop in general. Fielding creates this character to embody what he hates most about society. Mrs. Slipslop's overwhelming sexual urges, hypocrisy, abuse of the English language and preoccupation with societal standing all serve as examples of the self deception that Fielding finds ridiculous in his contemporary social system.
Before analyzing how Fielding uses Slipslop as a satirical device, it is important to know the general information about the old maid.
She is described as a
"Maiden Gentlewoman of about Forty-five Years of Age, who having made a small slip in her Youth had continued a good Maid ever since. She was not at this time remarkably handsome, being very short, and rather too corpulent in Body, and somewhat red, with the addition of Pimples in her face" (Book 1 26).
This is exactly what one would imagine a woman named Slipslop to look like. Her obvious physical shortcomings could be put aside if Slipslop possessed inner beauty, but she does not. She is morally weak and believes that she has fully repented for her mistake in her youth by long years of celibacy and has an itch to be sinful with the innocent Joseph. Fielding also reverses traditional gender...