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 husband.
Moll Flanders chose her life as a prostitute. She states on page 138: "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 spouses died. 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.
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