Psychological and Presentational Realism in Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe

Psychological and Presentational Realism in Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe

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Psychological and Presentational Realism in Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe


The Eighteenth-century literature is popular for its peculiar style of writing that gives the readers an insider’s view in the novel. By combining the two aspects such as Psychological and Presentational Realism, authors have created works of pure masterpiece such as Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe. Defoe illustrates Moll, the protagonist’s psyche by writing the narrative in the first person to imply it as an autobiography. This allows psychological realism to work at its finest since the readers can feel a personal relationship to the character. The two important instances that occur with this type of realism are when Moll realizes that she is married to her own brother and her meeting with Humphrey, her son. In addition, Defoe also uses Presentational Realism to describe Moll’s initial career as thief with her first episode at the apothecary’s shop and later stealing a gold necklace from a child. The manner in which the setting is described gives the readers a sense of feeling of being there and at the same time experiencing her escape from the scene.

Amongst Moll’s several relationships, she is married to a plantation owner, who owns property and has mother and a sister in America. The couple decides to move to Virginia to be with the family (Defoe 77). Moll’s describes that she lives in marital bliss and also enjoys the company of her mother-in-law. She exclaims “…I thought of myself the happiest creature alive…” until her world is shattered as she portrays herself being “…most uncomfortable in the world” (78). As she is listening to the story of her mother-in-law being a transported felon to Virginia from Newgate prison in London and sudden...


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...hough she may not have kept in touch with her son. She is overjoyed by meeting him, which gives the reader a sense of hope that the story will end on a positive note. On the other hand, presentational realism is shown through Moll’s darker side when she turns into a thief to support herself and live lavishly. Her description of her deeds and exact account of what she acquires amazes the readers. The reader can connect to her by being a thief and at the same time passing moral judgments upon her. Some may congratulate her on being slick enough to steal from an apothecary shop while others may criticize her for robbing a little innocent child. Regardless of various opinions, Defoe’s narrative style involves the reader in the story, which makes it interesting to read.

Works Cited
Defoe, Daniel. Moll Flanders. New York: Signet Classic Penguin Books USA Inc, 1996.

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