Moll Flanders is the major protagonist from Daniel Defoe’s famous novel, “The Fortunes and Misfortunes of the Famous Moll Flanders”. She is popularized by novelist/journalist Defoe in 1722 by creating a woman with a strong character. A woman considered a con with her conniving, deceiving, and alluring skills would best describe this female as she displays and unravels her secrets of establishing rapport with the upper high class men and seducing them so she could own their money as well. Moll Flanders is a risk taker; she is a social climber and materialistic and opportunistic by nature. Her story represents the vanity and insecurity of American women during 18th century and even depicts the social values of women in the new millenium. Moreover, with her various marital relationships, Moll refers to herself as “taking stock” due to her survival needs.
Upon reading the book, one will encounter the part where Moll implicitly considers herself as “taking stock;” this is because of her intrinsic self-serving desire of maintaining her pretentions of belonging in the upper high class society to attract men of the same level of social status. Hence, if these men might think that she is wealthy like them, they would resort to marrying her and she will enjoy the benefits more. However, the opposite of what Moll expected occured: she was tricked herself several times by men, and she also experienced being deceived by a pretending rich man. Moll took stock or took chance of what her relationships could provide her to make her feel secure (cited in Defoe, 2008).
The novel also presented the implicit representation of Moll to the emerging American women of the 18th century. Society was once accustomed to the traditional perception and treatment of the conservative, powerless, and voiceless women. However, in this novel, Moll portrayed a different role of a woman depicting the quality of being lewd, impulsive, and sly. Furthermore, she played the role of a rebellious woman acting upon the maltreatment of society and punishing herself due to her own fallacies and misconceptions of morality. Thus, Moll’s character interprets the values of some women who decided to take offense and rebel against misfortune and unfair treatment of society just to rationalize that their actions are products of the negative reinforcement coerced by their external environment.
“The Fortunes and Misfortunes of the Famous Moll Flanders” is very appealing as the readers can relate Moll’s behavior to the present behavior of people in the society. Either men or women engage in all sorts of fraud and even immoral actions, including criminal cases for the sake of sustenance and survival. Others may think that if life is unfair to them, then they will make others’ life miserable as well. This may be associated with their belief that it would lessen their pain and increase their satisfaction. For instance, prostitution is rampant nowadays, and most women disclose similar events with what Moll has experienced. Moll, just like the prostitutes, blame the cause of their actions from their past experience and deprivations (cited in Defoe, 2008).
By reading this novel, one will learn that “the end does not justify the means” because Moll Flanders’ life ended its misery after repenting and realizing all her mistakes. She realized that where there is misfortune, there is also a possibility for fortune, and where there is pain, there is glory. Moll accepted her mistakes and that she cannot always blame experience to define her actions because behavior can be shaped and modified through your own will. Moll achieved a happy ending upon opening her eyes to reality and admitting to herself that she has done wrong. She decided to live a life without pretense anymore. She also resolved to live her life no matter simple it may seem. She realized that money and material things are not the meaning of life. She learned that a simple, uncomplicated, and good life with her loved ones with whom she can define herself is what the real essence of a happy life is.
Defoe, D. (2008). The fortunes and misfortunes of the famous Moll Flanders. Wildside Press.