The Fortunes And Misfortunes Of The Famous Moll Flanders Analysis

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The Fortunes and Misfortunes of the Famous Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe is a portrait of a woman 's life from birth to death. The novel is supposedly based in fact, and possibly even loosely based off the real life female criminal Moll King (Howson 167). Stylistically, it 's written as an autobiography of the vivacious Moll Flanders, detailing the adventures her extravagant, action-packed, and dramatic story. Defoe uses his title character to explore identity, morality, and ethics through the eyes of a sixteenth century woman. My focus will be on the characterization of Moll and the choices that Defoe made to illustrate her unique development and growth in the novel, particularly the slight gender ambiguity of the character. Identity is …show more content…
One of the opening lines in the novel is about the condition of Moll 's birth. "However it was, this they all agree in, that my Mother pleaded her Belly" (Defoe 44). In this case, Moll 's mother was about to be executed for crimes she committed so she pleaded her belly so that her imminent death would be postponed until after the child was borne. I think this was a great way to open the novel is because we 're seeing how this woman takes something that is often depicted as a disadvantage for women, instead become advantageous. It also raises interesting questions about the morality of her mother. Did she use her pregnancy to get herself more time or did she actually care about the wellbeing of her child? It sets the tone of the novel by allowing Moll 's mother to use her womanhood as a benefit, whereas in most all other aspects of the time they would be at a disadvantage due to their gender. A man could not plead his belly, and therefore Defoe chooses an instance where being a woman going to execution is actually …show more content…
I think this chapter of her story is most indicative of her fluctuating identity. She gives fully into the temptations of sin and no longer tries to rebuke the notions of immorality. Defore makes interesting comments on crime and sex as vices for Moll. Moll demonstrates her vindictive and immoral nature in the way she handles herself as a criminal. She becomes skilled at manipulation and thievery and even being caught does nothing to impede her growing lust. She even states "Thus you see having committed a Crime once, is a sad Handle to the committing of it again; whereas all the Regret, and Reflections wear off when the Temptation renews it self;" (Defoe 306). As a woman Moll 's character has a great deal of autonomy and bodily agency, this is renewed through the meticulous care she puts into pulling her heists. There is a definitive version of her altered identities as well given her changing of physical traits. Rather than just the spiritual and mental shift in identity she is making tangible transformations of self now by utilizing disguises to go from heist to heist. Defore illustrates her with a lack of clear conscious. Moll recognizes there are shades of grey in the spectrum of

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