Moll Flanders Essay, Research Paper
Moll Flanders is an excellent story about one woman’s evolution
from a poor economic status to a, later, mid-class caste in life.
Moll Flanders used her meticulous cunning in order to survive in the
18th century. She started out with a tabula rasa, or clean slate,
when she is born, but, eventually, she resorts to an immoral life in
order to survive. When she learns that her husbands die very quickly,
but give her money for having sex with them, she turns to a life of
whoredom. This choice, however, was only done as an instinct to
survive. In the 1800’s, the legal system was not in a woman’s favor.
Women would not inherit anything when their husbands died. Which is why
Moll Flanders had to resort to a life of crime after she no longer
looked good enough to make a living as a whore. This all, eventually,
led to her imprisonment and trip to America to live happily with her
Moll Flanders chose her life as a prostitute. She states on
“Well, let her life have been the way it would then,
it was certain that my life was very uneasy to me; for I liv’d, as I
have said, but in the worst sort of whoredom, and as I cou’d expect no
Good of it, so really no good issue came and all my seeming prosperity
wore off and ended in misery and destruction;…”
Whenever Moll would have kids she would sell them or give them
away. Moll saw children as a biprouduct of having sex. The choice of
going to whoredom, however, was only because she felt the need to
survive. Most animals have this instinct to survive. Whenever she
would marry a man he would pay her to have sex, but his life would be
short. This caused her to have to find another person in order to have
money to eat and a place to stay. This was because the legal system in
the 18th century did not allow women to inherit anything when their
Therefore, Moll Flanders had to turn to a life of crime, at
the age of forty-eight, when she could no longer earn a living having
sex for money. The first time she steals something she feels guilty.
She starts her career by stealing a watch from a small child, and she
even contemplated killing him. After which, she starts running and
eventually she stops and questions what she has done. She doesn’t like
where she has gone in her moral standards, but she soon overcomes her
guilty feelings when she realizes that thievery might be a lucrative
profession. From that time, until she is thrown in jail, she uses her
innate intelligence to abduct an utter cornucopia of items. She steals
mostly watches, though.
These watches represent Moll’s yearning for the past. In the
past she made an honest living, and she wants to go back to that time.
Near the end of the story Moll Flanders feels a need to return to her
past. She returns to Colchester, but this is not enough for her. She
feels, deep inside, that she must go back to the place where she was
born. She feels that she must go back to Newgate prison. She thus
continues her life as a criminal and, eventually, she gets caught.
While in prison she is visited by a priest. The priest convinces her
to repent for her life of sins, and she does. This is a big change in
her life. Some might say it was the point in the story where Moll
Flanders, finally, reaches the middle-class chaste in her life. Before
she repents for her life of sins she doesn’t care if she lives or dies.
She even sings, on page 351, “If I swing by the String, I shall hear
the Bell ring. And then there’s an end…”. After she makes amends,
however, she feels a need to live. The priest arranges for her to get
a transfer to America. With her, on the way there, is her husband,
Jemmy. With Jemmy, Moll goes to America and lives a prosperous life.
Moll Flanders is referred to, often, as a rogue novel. It
involves a woman’s expedition from a poverty stricken lower class to a
middle-class station in life. It shows, very clearly, the legal
system in the 18th century, and how it is against women. It also shows
how a normal woman must become a whore in order to survive in this kind
of civilization. Moll Flanders is a resourceful poverty stricken woman
who can make the best of what she has. She survived long enough to move
to America with the person she loved and live a happy life.