Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe

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Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe

Three recurring themes in Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe are greed, vanity,

and repentance. Theme is defined as an underlying or essential subject of

artistic representation. These three themes play an important role in the

development of the story of Moll Flanders.

The first theme, greed, is shown in Moll's acts of prostitution. Moll

turns to thievery in many instances to support herself. She also allows her

morals to disintegrate; a result of her greediness.

Moll's first act of prostitution is thrust upon her unknowingly. In the

beginning of the story, she is living with a gentle woman and her family. One

of the brothers takes interest in Moll and seduces her into becoming his lover.

"He took these freedoms with me… when this was over he stayed but a little while,

but he put almost a handful of gold in my hand…" (Defoe 26). Moll lets down her

guard and meets with the brother frequently. "… so putting the purse into my

bosom, I made no more resistance to him, but let him do just what he pleased and

as often as he pleased…" (Defoe 30). Later in the story, Moll becomes

acquainted with a woman who persuades Moll to work for her as a prostitute.

Even though Moll is now married, she agrees to sell her body for profit. "I

found presently that whether I was a whore or a wife, I was to pass for a whore

here…" (Defoe 144). Moll's acts of prostitution show that she will carry out

illegal practices in order to get money.

Moll's many instances involving thievery also express the theme of greed.

At the end of the story, Moll gives her son a stolen watch. "… I stole it from

a gentlewoman's side at a meeting house in London" (Defoe 297). Moll says this

is the only thing of value she has to give him. One Christmas Day Moll

discovers an unattended silversmith's shop. "I went boldly in and was just

going to lay my hand upon a piece of plate, and might have done it and carried

it clear off…" (Defoe 238). Moll resists the temptation to steal because a

nearby shopkeeper rushes over after having seen her enter the empty store.

While Moll is living with the old governess she has some luck swindling a man at

a gaming-house who seems "…to be of more than ordinary fashion…" (Defoe 230).

Moll wins him some money and secretly keeps a part for herself each time. "…he

divided it with me, and I brought away 30 (sic) guineas besides about forty-
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