Daniel Defoe’s “Moll Flanders” as a Portrayal of the Position of Women in the Age of Reason

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  • Topic: Woman, Moll Flanders, Daniel Defoe
  • Pages : 3 (1323 words )
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  • Published : December 3, 2012
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‘Moll Flanders’ is a famous novel written by Daniel Defoe in 1722. The full title of this novel is quite long, which is unusual to modern readers, and it gives some insight into the outline of the plot: ‘The Fortunes and Misfortunes of the Famous Moll Flanders,Who Was Born In Newgate, and During a Life of Continu'd Variety For Threescore Years, Besides Her Childhood, Was Twelve Year a Whore, Five Times a Wife [Whereof Once To Her Own Brother], Twelve Year a Thief, Eight Year a Transported Felon In Virginia, At Last Grew Rich, Liv'd Honest, and Died a Penitent. Written from her own Memorandums.’ Despite the fact that the famous novel was written almost three centuries ago, surprisingly, even nowadays, it remains topical from the point of view of moral, virtue, conscience, and, on the contrary, covetousness, and vice. One might reason about the society that has changed, about the roles that contemporary men and women play, and many other things, but when reading this old story, it suddenly turns out that people remain the same all through centuries. They have the same feeling and emotional experiences; they know what does it mean to love and to hate. However, on no account does this mean that the scenery stays unchanged as well. ‘Moll Flanders’ is a story not only about a woman, but also about the times when this woman lived: it gives a veracious and colourful picture of 17th century society. Moll is neither a typical woman of that time, nor is she typical to our society nowadays. She is an exceptional character - ambiguous, and definitely not the most attractive one. One could only guess why may the writer need to make this woman so low. Moll Flanders is an ‘extreme’ character, and the trick is that actually it works as a ‘litmus-paper’ – indicates, reveals, and exaggerates the features of that time society, and of one particular unit of it – a human being. The 17th century realia consists of the fact that men rule the world while women remain in the shadow,...
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