Comment on Moll Flander’s
strategies of economic survival in Defoe’s novel of teh same name. How do Moll’s
stategies of economic survival differ from Robinson’s? What is the significance
of the difference?
Moll Flanders is a novel that explores the options available to
women in unstable, often desperate circumstances. Moll’s life teaches her
reader more about survival than religion, possibly transcending Defoe’s intent
in the novel.
Along with another Defoe’s masterpiece
– Robinson Crusoe, the two novels teach us valuable moral lessons and are still
relevant nowadays. Moll and Robinson have the same goal- economic survival but
there’s a significant difference in their strategies.
Moll Flanders – the main
heroine in Defoe’s novel of the same name, is an ambivalent character that
combines seemingly incompatible qualities. She is a forceful, persistent young
girl who obtains her way in most things. Moll is beautiful and attractive, but
yet witty and manipulative. She is resolute to achieve economic success despite
the social conditions and poor circumstances, thus her life gets full of
immoral behavior, mischief and trickery.
Though she desires the
life of “gentlewomen,” which
she defines as an ability to support herself, Moll achieves a kind of independence only by stealing. More
important, the extent of her independence is complicated by the many crucial alliances she makes with women
throughout her life. Her narrative teaches that in an unstable world no woman
can survive in isolation from society at
large. Moll must establish friendships with a succession of women most of whom
are widowed and have to support themselves. These women do not have men upon
whom they can rely for “guidance.” They struggle to exist in a
society that confines middleclass women to the domestic realm, while tacitly
condoning predatory male behaviour
toward women considered unworthy
is the driving source in the book. It becomes more important than class, love,
moral and everything else. Moll is determined to prosper without working and
the best possible way is to marry a rich husband. She sees people as
commodities and her relationship with them as business transaction.
Defoe’s novel answers the question
of how a woman copes when she falls outside the purview of marriage and
family.” Each of Moll’s attempts to claim a permanent place in the
domestic realm is thwarted, mainly because men prove to be highly unreliable as
providers. Each of her five marriages leaves her increasingly poorer, and she
seems unconcerned about her children, only one of whom is even named.
she regularly deals with the underworld that
shadowed polite society. Defoe is able to portray the darker elements of
society in which basic needs such as food and shelter overshadow (at least
initially) religious and moral instruction.