The narrative Begins with the revelation that “ Moll Flanders ” is non the heroine ‘s true name, but instead an assumed name given her by “ some of my worst Comrades ” in offense. Defoe therefore reveals from the novel ‘s first lines that Moll, holding been born in prison as the girl of a convicted criminal, will finally go on in that tradition. We besides glimpse in this gap paragraph the badness of the justness system of the clip. Defoe ‘s century saw an addition in offense, and besides in the figure of offenses that were punishable by decease. Moll ‘s female parent receives her sentence-transportation to the American colonies-as a “ Favour ” ; the expected penalty would hold been executing.
Moll begins as an orphan, and her life will in fact be defined, from start to complete, as one of profound isolation. Moll ‘s early forsaking is but the first in a long line of such abandonments, and the novel will go on depriving Moll of all her friends and dealingss at a rapid rate. The basic loneliness of human existences was a favourite subject for Defoe. Although Moll exists in the thick of a bustling and crowded urban universe ( instead than being stranded on an island like Robinson Crusoe ) , she forges about no abiding truenesss or friendly relationships. On the rare occasions when she does happen family, Defoe does non let Moll ‘s interpersonal dealingss to go the focal point of the novel.
Moll ‘s lone and unpropitious start in life besides initiates her singular autonomy. That she divides herself from the set of itinerants at the age of three is an index of the power this heroine will hold to maneuver and direct her ain life. While Moll is frequently at the clemency of fortunes, her deficiency of association besides gives her a sort of freedom, and it forces her to trust on her ain judgement and cunning to do her manner in the universe. Her narrative will be a pursuit for endurance.
The state of affairs in which Moll finally finds herself-in love with one brother but compelled to get married the other-is the material of calamity. Defoe gives the secret plan a reasonably amusing intervention, nevertheless, using the episode chiefly to show Moll ‘s early naivete and to demo her doggedness and her adeptness to larn from her experiences. Moll singles out the growing of her vernal amour propre as taging a turning point in her life. Up to this point, Moll has had nil to upbraid herself with except a infantile ignorance. “ Therefore far I have had a smooth Story to state of myself, and in all this Part of my Life, I non merely had the Reputation of life in a really good Family, aˆ¦but I had the Character excessively of a very sober, modest, and virtuous immature Woman, and such I had ever been ; neither had I yet any juncture to believe of any thing else, or to cognize what a Temptation to Wickedness meant. ” Yet the storyteller backs off of the discourse on the immoralities of amour propre, or at least she recasts those immoralities in stuff, non religious footings. The lesson she draws is one of expedience instead than of piousness. When she warns her younger readers “ to Guard themselves against the Mischiefs which attend an early Cognition of their ain Beauty, ” the mischievousness to which she refers is non immoral sexual behaviour but instead the gullibility that will let a adult female to be the victim of a more sophisticated adult male. She admonishes herself for her deficiency of attending to practical matters-not for the fact that she yielded to enticement, but for the fact that she failed to procure her ain involvements as she might hold.
The scene of Moll ‘s seduction is one of the book ‘s raciest episodes. As the heroine becomes more sexually experienced, the storyteller ceases to show the sexual facts of her narrative with the same love affair and titillation. Desire and emotion are in fact conspicuously minimized in this novel, which distills human being to its economic and mercenary underside line. The emotional responses of the character Moll contrast markedly here with the shriveled position of the septuagenarian who narrates the narrative. As Moll grows into her grownup ego, this divided perspective stopping points slightly: she matures into a form in which her first reactions to events, which may be emotional or hotheaded ab initio, rapidly decide into Stoic and matter-of-fact classs of action.
Yet the spread between the storyteller and the supporter remains of import throughout, functioning to reenforce the conditional morality that the book so frequently propounds. Life determinations in Defoe ‘s novel can non be divorced from the fortunes under which they are made. The storyteller ‘s most frequent scheme in noticing on her ain life is to conceive of herself into her former state of affairs, instead than to enforce the wisdom of her old ages on her earlier experience. Moll ‘s ability to execute this inventive supplanting is portion of what enables her to state her narrative with such tenderness of understanding and apprehension. The storyteller is ne’er demure with her reader, which is portion of her entreaty. She presents her ain responses and motives honestly and unabashedly, as when she confesses that she was excessively pleased with her first lover ‘s attendings to defy him. The fact that we get no existent external position on Moll ‘s life, nevertheless, limits the capacity of the novel to articulate any austere judgement or to come to an nonsubjective moral declaration.
Defoe depicts, through his heroine, the rough worlds of the matrimony market. He himself was outspoken in his unfavorable judgment of the pattern of get marrieding without love, naming such confederations “ legalized harlotry. ” This candid and tough-minded presentation of the economic motivations regulating matrimony casts Moll ‘s candor about her ain motives in a new visible radiation. If we were inclined to see her professed acquisitiveness as excessively materialistic, we are now forced to admit, at the really least, that she is a animal of her universe.
Moll ‘s moral disgust at the disclosure that she has been populating with her brother as a hubby is slightly surprising, given the composure and deficiency of emotion with which she has met the other calamities that have befallen her. This is one of the rare instances when a moral rule will outweigh every other consideration for Moll. Even in this instance, nevertheless, her initial repulsive force is rapidly channeled into a more matter-of-fact vena as she calmly considers what action she ought to take. The intelligence causes Moll ‘s brother/husband to endure a dislocation, a fact which reinforces, by contrast, Moll ‘s personal resourcefulness and resilience.
This episode serves as a nexus between the beginning of the novel and the terminal: it shows Moll rediscovering her female parent and her ain beginnings and besides paves the manner for her return to America and her concluding attainment of prosperity.
Moll ‘s relationship with this “ Gentleman ” is governed by a struggle: she seems loath to go his kept woman, but besides at some degree desires that result. She confesses “ that from the first hr I began to discourse with him, I resolved to allow him lye with me if he offered it ; but it was because I wanted his aid and aid, and I knew no other manner of procuring him than that. ” The implicit in inquiry for Moll is one of security, non of love or even desire. Moll has learned that being a married woman is more unafraid than being a kept woman, and she knows that there is no opportunity of get marrieding this adult male every bit long as his huffy married woman is still populating. Yet his generousness and trueness make him a likely campaigner for an matter, and this appraisal is confirmed when he promises to take attention of her and her kids. For the six old ages that they are together, Moll enjoys fiscal stableness, if non societal comfort. She is wise plenty, nevertheless, to salvage money while she is basking such prosperity, “ cognizing good plenty that such things as these do non ever go on, that Work force that support kept womans frequently change them, turn weary of them or Jealous of them, or something or other happens to do them retreat their Bounty. ” Moll ‘s concerns-and her fiscal prudence-are non baseless: after happening himself on the threshold of decease, her lover repents of his criminal conversation and comeuppances Moll. Still, the relationship is a comparative success, particularly since matrimony for Moll has been every bit unsure.
Interestingly, the moral valency of the state of affairs is non in the fact of perpetrating criminal conversation, but instead in holding the common sense to procure oneself against some alteration of fortunes ; the adult female who does non protect herself against that possibility is “ rightly ” ruined. Moll admits to holding some “ secret Reproaches of my ain Conscience for the Life I led, ” but so elaborates them in fiscal footings: “ even in the greatest tallness of the Satisfaction I of all time took, yet I had the awful chance of Poverty and Starving which lay behind me. ” Moll has learned to look for gaps that might convey her fiscal addition, and she is non diffident to capitalise on them when she finds them.
We see in Moll ‘s ciphering intervention of the banker how much she has learned since her handling of the two brothers at the clip of her first seduction. With regard to that matter, she sees retrospectively that “ if I had known his Ideas, and how difficult he thought I would be to be gained, I might hold made my ain Footings with him. ” By this clip, nevertheless, Moll knows how to threading a adult male along ; “ I play ‘d with this Lover as an Angler does with a Trout, ” she brags. When the banker suggests that she marry him instantly, assuring to seek the divorce afterwards, she is tempted merely momently, and knows non to uncover her avidity to her suer. She plans her moves so as to maintain her options unfastened and refuses to rest her assurance in anybody but herself.
In Jemy, nevertheless, Moll meets her manipulative lucifer. They cross each other in the same game, and although they banter about which of them is more “ undone, ” each is equable plenty non to harbour any existent bitterness. For all their anxiousness about what to make next, both take a certain delectation in their quandary, and Jemy ‘s attitude toward hardship is much like Moll ‘s: “ I must seek the universe once more ; a Man ought to believe like a Man: To be Discourag ‘d, is to give to the Misfortune. ” Jemy is in fact the lone adult male Moll has any existent and permanent fondness for, likely because they have so much in common. “ I truly believeaˆ¦that he was a Man that was every bit good qualified to do me happy, as to his Temper and Behaviour, as any Man of all time was, ” she reminisces. He is one of the few characters in the book who has a name ( in fact he goes by several ) . While this is partially an expedient to his reappearance subsequently in the narrative, it is besides a signal of the fact that he makes a permanent feeling on Moll ‘s affections-something few of the people she meets manage to make.
Although we have seen Moll turning in sophistication and edification over the class of the novel, Defoe emphasizes his heroine ‘s artlessness in comparing to the adult females she meets when she returns to London. Assuming her first landlady to be a really scrupulous dame, she is embarrassed to look as an unwed female parent ( although she is besides loath to acknowledge that she is married, because of her purpose of remarrying ) . Merely subsequently does she recognize that “ the Mistress of the House was non so great a Stranger to such Cases as mine was. ” The accoucheuse whom the landlady biddings turns out to be precisely “ the right kind ” for Moll ‘s state of affairs. Small by small, Moll begins to acquire glances into a shadowy-but extremely organized-world of corruptness and degeneration. She is surprised to detect what intricate webs of people and patterns are in topographic point to back up immoral and condemnable behaviour. Moll ‘s Governess is midwife to “ Ladies of Pleasure ” on a regular footing, and she knows merely whom to reach to hold Moll ‘s babe taken off her custodies. She obviously knows how to abort the babe every bit good, though she broaches the subject so indirectly that Moll merely hardly catches her significance. She besides appears to be moving as a procuress. Moll in fact diminutions to narrate in full item “ the Nature of the wicked Practice of this Woman, in whose Hands I was now fallen, ” fearing that she may allure others to similar frailty. Defoe offers his readers a glance into this underworld as sort of realistic documentary-as “ Testimony of the turning Vice of the Age. ”
Moll carefully traces the procedure by which she is tempted into and so inextricably involved in a life of offense. She says of her critics, “ Let ’em retrieve that a clip of Distress is a clip of awful Temptation, and all the Strength to defy is taken off ; Poverty imperativenesss, the Soul is made Desperate by Distress, and what can be Done? ” The more successful and celebrated she becomes as a felon, the more loath Moll is to go forth off the “ trade, ” despite her occasional stabs of scruples. She explains the strength of the incentives to offense but does non mask her motivations: “ Ifaˆ¦a chance of Work had presented itself at foremost, when I began to experience the attack of my suffering Circumstances, aˆ¦I had ne’er fallen into this wicked Trade, or into such a wicked Gang as I was now embark ‘d with ; but rehearse had hardened me, and I grew brave to the last grade ; and the more so, because I had carried it on so long, and had ne’er been taken. ” Stealing becomes a sort of irresistible impulse for Moll, and she freely admits that she continued to steal even one time she had plentifulness of money-as if for the challenge and exhilaration of it.
This section of the book is peppered with matter-of-fact ethical motives: Defoe tells us non merely how Moll could hold done her work better, but besides how her victims might hold avoided being robbed. And the offense item as a whole is purported to function the moral intent of warning readers against going victims themselves, instead than against condemnable behaviour. Even this account does non look to capture the true character of Defoe ‘s gusto for these scenes, nevertheless. He presents Moll ‘s larceny as about an art signifier ; her narrative delectations in the inventiveness with which each offense is conceived and the proficient command with which it is accomplished. “ I grew the greatest Artist of my clip, ” she writes, “ and work ‘d myself out of every danger withaˆ¦Dexterity. ” The fact that Moll, from her retrospective vantage point, takes such joy in these dealingss calls into inquiry the earnestness of her penitence.
Moll ‘s condemnable stage is in many ways the period of her greatest independency and liberty. Once she becomes a maestro stealer, Moll ‘s purdah is turned from a liability to an advantage. It becomes the grade of freedom and autonomy, merely as her penchant for working entirely stems from the cognition of her superior accomplishment. Having found a “ calling, ” at which she excels, Moll no longer has to seek urgently for a adult male to back up her. The fact that offense is the business that presents itself ( we can barely conceive of that needlecraft, Moll ‘s lone existent option, would hold been as fulfilling or authorising ) might be taken as an indicant of Defoe ‘s penetration into quandary of adult females in his twenty-four hours, and peculiarly of the famine of acceptable mercantile establishments for their endowment and aspiration.
Moll presents it as a basic truth of human nature that “ a Secret of the Moment should ever hold a Confident, a bosom Friend, to whom we may Communicate the Joy of it, or the Grief of it, be it which it will, or it will be a dual weight upon the Spirits, and possibly go even indefensible. ” This contemplation is peculiarly affecting in visible radiation of the fact that Moll has so frequently been missing in such a friend or confidante, and therefore has been forced to bear most of her life ‘s loads entirely. She does non pull out the connexion really explicitly in her ain instance, but goes on to confirm that the deficiency of friends has been the beginning of much failing in many of her familiarities.
Moll ‘s spring of emotion upon seeing her boy seems incongruous with the strikingly tough-minded manner she has borne the loss of so many kids, and particularly with her peculiar contempt for the kids of her incestuous relationship with her brother. Such sentiment, it would look, is a luxury for Moll: merely in minutes of comparative security and prosperity does she happen leisure to indulge in such shows of emotion. Her new filial piousness is besides presumptively meant to harmonize with her spiritual transition, as testimony-however thin it may seem-to the fact that her mentality has truly changed. The fact that she does non waver to state a whole web of prevarications to protect herself and advance her ain convenience casts some uncertainty on the image of Moll as a Reformed adult female, nevertheless, and her avidity to recover her portion of her female parent ‘s bequest has a similar consequence. Much critical argument has centered on the ( questionable ) earnestness of Moll ‘s reformation by the terminal of the novel. By her ain history, her penitence is sincere plenty. The fond mode in which she relates her past life, nevertheless, suggests otherwise, and the fact that the novel seems to offer piousness as an option merely after economic security and societal stableness have been obtained represents a more bleakly mercenary position of human religious possibilities. On the spiritual registry every bit good as on others, the inquiry of whether Moll really develops as a character or simply responds to altering conditions remains a disturbing one.