Professor David Wilson
October 1, 2014
Love and Money in Moll Flanders
The subjects of love and money are frequently referenced in Daniel Defoe's Moll Flanders, but the extent and stipulations to which they are successfully linked deserves some justification. In the novel, Moll often speaks of love and money as one decided entity, whereas the reasons for their connection and the foundation behind it is never clearly explained. Juliet Mc Master, (of the Association of Canadian University Teachers of English) refers to the close relationship between love and money in Moll Flanders as an "equation" (its outcome presumably being Moll's fate), alikely titling her 1970 article "The Equation of Love and Money in 'Moll Flanders'". In the initial portion of her article Mc Master points out that "...she [Moll] makes her sexual and then her matrimonial debut." (Mc Master,131) in the home of the Colchesters... coincidentally the same residence of "[...] Moll's first lover [...]" (131). For this reason, it seems detrimental to focus on this portion of the novel when analysing the origins of the relationship between love and money in Moll's life. The origins of this relationship can be most clearly seen in child Moll's episode, Moll's affair with the eldest of the Colchester brothers, and the overall sexualized and somewhat phallicized language, which Moll puts to use as tells for her confusion of love with money as she peppers imagery throughout the text.
Moll's history of childhood abandonment may have led her to the home of the governess, but the person she grew to become while staying there conditioned her to choose her first husband, Robin. "And if a young woman has beauty, birth, breeding, wit, sense, manners, modesty, and all to an extream, yet if she has not money, she's nobody, [...]" (Defoe, 56). Mc Master agrees by writing "From the significant initial episode where the child Moll announces her intention to be 'a gentlewoman,' Defoe shows how she learns to associate approbation, hope of success, and all things enjoyable with money." (Mc Master, 132).
Considering Moll's reluctance to marry Robin rather than the eldest brother, it stands to reason why Moll may have began defining love and money as a single unit. The eldest brother was the first person to woo Moll, and he was also the first to pay her for sexual favor. Moll's confusion would have most likely resulted in a packaged understanding of the two life essentials, and for that reason Moll's first marriage can easier be instead seen as Moll's first gesture of self-love. With a conditioned understanding that sexual love yields money, and money aids in being a gentlewoman; Moll happily saw the act of marriage as her first stepping stone in becoming a gentlewoman.
"I had a most unbounded stock of vanity and pride, and but a very little stock of virtue; I did indeed cast sometimes with myself what my young master aim'd at, but thought of nothing, but the fine words, and the gold; [...]" (Defoe, 60).
"[...] for alas, all I understood by being a gentlewoman, was to be able to work for myself, and get enough to keep me without that terrible bug-bear going to service,[...]" (Defoe, 50)
Ultimately, Moll's abrasive predisposition following her first marriage was only a result of conditioning herself to value physical goods over genuine love. By marrying Robin, Moll made a move to protect herself against abandonment and financial ruin, unknowingly teaching herself that the fabrication of love will lead you to fortune, while the embrace of genuine love will yield no material value, and thus little success. This correlation between Moll's first marriage, and therefore her first sexual "debut" (Mc Master, 131) as an act of self-love could certainly prove to be the basis for a causation for her behaviour throughout the remainder of the novel. In this way, Moll only appears to be unlucky and naive, the product of an uneven "equation" (Mc...
Cited: Defoe, Daniel. Moll Flanders. Toronto: Broadview Editions, 2005. Print.
Lilienfeld, Scott, Steven Lynn, Laura Namy, Nancy Woolf, Kenneth Cramer, and Rodney Schmaltz. Psychology: From Inquiry to Understanding. Toronto, 2009. Print.
Mc Master, Juliet. "The Equation of Love and Money in Moll Flanders." JSTOR Arts & Sciences XI Collection 1970: 131. ProQuest. Web. 29 Sept. 2014.
Please join StudyMode to read the full document