For Love or Money: Moll and PamelaBy Rebecca Wilson
Capitalism, as it emerges in a new form throughout the 1700’s, plays a significant role in the “love” plots of Daniel Defoe’s Moll Flanders and Samuel Richardson’s Pamela. As each author works to depict the relationships of the time, they illustrate the role played by economics and capitalism as well as individual characters. In the time of Defoe, marriage was based upon social and economic standing, and all involved worked to marry well financially. This emphasis on money and economic advantage is replaced by a desire for complementarianism and a focus on internal qualities as Richardson begins his novel, Pamela. With this change, the lives and loves of the main heroines are dictated by the changing norms and shifts in capitalistic gain. Although capitalism plays a significant role in shaping the marriage of individuals, there is still room for true love, as witnessed by both Moll and Pamela. In an emerging form of capitalism, marriage is dictated by money in Moll Flanders and then inner qualities in Pamela. While capitalism creates the framework for marriage, true love often takes over and steps outside the economic boundaries. Defoe uses his novel to express the inner workings of an early English marriage “market.” Because the form of capitalism during the early 1700’s dictates that women must marry well in order to survive, Moll is forced to marry for money and not for love. Throughout her life-long pursuit of comfort and stability, she understands the game: marriage is a form of capitalism, as individuals seek out appropriate investments in partners in order for economic gain. In light of this situation, Moll’s relationships are dominated not by love but by money and she explains: “Marriages were here the Consequence of politick Schemes, for forming Interests, and carrying in Business, and that LOVE had no share, or but very little in the Matter” (Defoe 67). This is just one of many instances where Moll verbalizes her understanding of the designs of the time and the drive of marriage. After this epiphany, Moll lives by this credo, seeking only men of wealth. For Moll to be raised above her station in life, she must marry well. Her absolute focus on money and financial improvement is exposed in her first marriage. While she does not love or even particularly like Robin, she is willing to marry him for stability and monetary gain: she raises her status in society, even though she does not enjoy his company. Unluckily, this approach gets her into trouble and countless times she finds herself in dangerous positions. On the occasion of the Sea Captain (Later to be unveiled as her brother!), she reflects on her folly, saying ““In short, my Eyes were dazl’d, I had now lost my Power of saying No, and to cut the Story short, I consented to be Married” (Defoe 143). She is not caught by the romance of love, but by the romance of money. Dreaming of great wealth and comfort, she leaps blindly into a marriage, sure this time that she will be settled well. This system of marriage was not uncommon in the eighteenth century and Defoe embeds the ludicrous nature of this “Fortune Hunting, as they call it” in his representation of women through Moll Flanders (Defoe 68). What effect does this capitalistic form of marriage play on the instance of “true love” in Moll’s life? While Moll fishes for money in the marriage market, she still finds herself accidentally in love. After believing herself in love with Robin’s older brother and seeing that come to nothing, she vows never to succumb to love again. She searches solely for economic gain because she has learned the marriage game. However, regardless of her narrow focus, she meets with a man from Lancashire and falls for him. Initially, readers may believe that it is not love, only another dazzlement which snares Moll into believing she is in love for his money. But, the nature of their relationship changes once Moll and her...
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