View Full Version : Feminist?

05-24-2005, 06:07 PM
I can't say I enjoyed the novel all that much to be honest, I think it dragged in a lot of places and was too dense to read for pleasure. Having a fairly traditional view of marraige, I think the way that Moll abuses and manipulates the topic is fairly appalling but at the same time, I think it is good to see a male author writing of a female character who will not allow herself to be suppressed by the demands of society. Moll uses her wit and intelligence to get out of sticky situations however I refuse to accept that she has truly repented by the end of the novel and it seems almost as though she is being rewarded for her life of sin by living happilly in the end.

05-07-2007, 04:48 PM
You are correct that Moll "abuses and manipulates" marriage, but I think that is one of Defoe's main points. He didn't agree with marrying for advantage but rather supported marrying for love. Although all of Moll's experiences with marriage would be difficult for just one woman to achieve, I think Defoe is trying to point out some truth of marriage practices during this time. He disagrees with marriage without love, and maybe this is reflected throughout Moll's life because her only real marriage for love is with her Lancashire husband, James. She isn't happy and things don't go well for her until she meets him again in the end.
The level of moral preaching stays at a limit (at least for the readers of this period), yet readers could still use this story as a warning for their everyday lives if they wanted. On the other hand, Defoe surely astonished some readers with all of Moll's life experiences. I believe Defoe wanted to reach these readers to show them the struggles for survival that many people during this period faced. Many were probably aware of these struggles, especially women, as Moll repeatedly shows throughout her struggle to find financial stability and this is probably what made the book so interesting, if it wasn't too appalling. In the preface and throughout the book, the reader is continually reminded that it is up to them to judge Moll's actions and take what they please out of the book. I agree that at the end of the book, Moll isn't very convincing about her repentance, because she doesn't really become emotional about her past and pretty much forgets all that has happened. Yet, I think this is the Christian belief: repent truly and you are forgiven. According to this, Moll did what she was supposed to. Of course, Defoe left out her afterthoughts and guilty feelings (except for the guilt she feels in Newgate for her husband), which gives the reader the sense that Defoe left something important out.
Overall I really enjoyed the book and I think that when reading a book, we shouldn't forget to take into account the context in which it was written. This may help one to better understand why it was written and what it may have meant for the people for whom it was created.

12-28-2008, 10:20 AM
I think we have to make sure we have the aspirations of what Moll wanted to be throughout the entire book. Her declaration to be a "Gentlewoman" was different to the upheld definition of a woman findng a sucessful husband. Moll delcares she wants financial and economic independence, which is laughed at.

Then in the story we see that Moll is always relying on a husband to stay out of poverty. She resorts to being a thief, when she is without economic reliance on a husband. The story then has the overall message that women are unable to live autonomously.

As for her repentence at the ending, I think I may need to read a little closer to it. I had always believed that Defoe had to end in this way to suit his audience (considering it was one of the earliest novels and his desire to get it published in such a patriarchal society).