Society And Gender In Daniel Defoe's Roxana

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A depiction of society and humanity can be portrayed through literature. Within Daniel Defoe’s Roxana (1724), readers are able to explore a sense of the eighteenth century context within the exploration of gender and characterisation employed through literary techniques. These two themes interplay with the social norms of Defoe’s context and allow readers an insight into the changing values within his writing.
The notion of gender, explored within in the text is seen by Roxana’s securing of power over men. This implies a seemingly increase in social influence of women within the era. Roxana is a woman who desires power and depicts an accidental feminist. This is evident in the shifting power of Roxana’s control of men, switching the gender
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47) portraying the control that Roxana has within the social sphere as well as her power to manipulate the master. Furthermore, Roxana is portrayed to be valuable, demonstrating the power of her gender, enshrined within the diction of “esteem’d me” (Defoe, 1724, p. 47), implying the master’s high regards towards her. Noticeably, the readers are able to see a shift in perception of power within the gender roles as Defoe provides Roxana the power to manipulate and control the emotions and actions of men. Her character is also ironic as she describes the emotions of disdain towards Amy through the lexical choice of “Vile action” (Defoe, 1724, p. 47), contrasting to her sudden change to her concern to the awkwardness between her “Master” in “I was extremely concern’d at the Aversion he had taken to my maid Amy” (Defoe, 1724, p. 47). In this case, she attempts to alter the mind of the master, observed through Roxana’s power to suppress men. Her power is further emphasised in “I never gave …show more content…
The diction of “Devil’s Agent” (Defoe, 1724, p. 48) provides an insight into the nature of Roxana’s character, as she becomes an immoral being, demonstrated through her indirect prostitution and the sexual acts between multiple men. Although Roxana, acted through desperation for survival, yet her conscience creates a division within her mind, she feels dirty, as she is separated from the religious realm of God, and transitioning into becoming “A whore and a rogue” (Defoe, 1724, p.43). These two examples link to Roxana’s potential downfall as a character yet intrigues readers to understand the constant dilemma she faces through her actions. It also provides an insight into the eighteenth century, emphasizing a change in women’s behaviours and social values such as prostitution and power. Although, Roxana, forcibly allows the rape of Amy, in order to satisfy her own personal intentions of having sex with the master of the house. Defoe portrays this through "he had, indeed, debauch’d the Wench” (Defoe, 1724, p. 47) demonstrating Roxana’s success in dragging Amy with her into immorality and the change in social status from a maid, to a prostitute. Amy and Roxana are similar in their actions but differ in status. Defoe’s juxtaposition of the statuses between Amy and Roxana is seen in Amy being “The wife of Aversion”

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