Daniel Defoe wrote Moll Flanders in 1722, almost one hundred years before Charlotte Bronte finished Jane Eyre. Despite the difference in the times of writing, they bore apparent similarities. Nevertheless the writers adopted different techniques to portrait two heroines.
The two novels were both growth novels, to a certain extent, which depicted the changes of the heroines as they grew up. In order to illustrate the changes, the authors employed similar plots and writing skills.
The two novels both started from foster families and ended with happy marriages. Perhaps the authors wanted to cast some light on the fact that a broken family had a far-reaching effect on a child’s life. Jane Eyre became rebellious and self-isolated in her struggles at Gateshead while Moll Flanders’ childhood foreshadowed her helplessness and powerlessness throughout her life. In fact the two foster homes differed greatly. Gateshead was a hostile place, which cultivated a strong and independent-minded Jane, so that she could overcome various difficulties in her life on her own. Moll Flanders was not so lucky. Her foster mother was impoverished but extremely kind. Therefore after she died, innocent Moll was thrown into an unfriendly world suddenly. Soon she was seduced, which marked the beginning of her miserable life. Both authors carried a strong sense of family. Jane took after her mother to be a stubborn lover. At despair she appealed for her mother ‘s help when she was praying for Mr. Rochester. In the end it’s her family that saved her from the edge of death and treated her with enthusiastic hospitality, quite in contrast with the hostile family of Gateshead. Family had a special meaning for her. Interesting enough it’s her family again who made her rich and in some way made it possible for the reunion of the couple. As to Moll Flanders, she went through what her mother did in almost the same way: from a decent woman to a shameless whore then to a thief, at last experiencing a narrow escape from the gallows. Like Jane she met her family at last quite unexpectedly in an exotic place. Despite all the suffering they had born, the endings of the two novels were happy. They could marry their beloved ones and lead tranquil and rich lives. It seemed that a happy marriage and a rich life were the best endings an author could come up with for a woman at that time.