ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

"Moll Flanders" by Daniel Defoe

Updated on March 10, 2013

Daniel Defoe rightly deserves to be noted as one of the finest novelists to come out of the 18th Century. With his sensitivity and experience and ability to hold a captive audience with his imagination and writing style in Moll Flanders, he has succeeded in the view of many readers as well as literary critics. In his era, while there were great poets, great playwrights and artists, there was the rise of the great novelist, too, and Defoe should be seated amongst the best of them.

Paula R. Backscheider in her Moll Flanders - The Making of a Criminal Mind, includes in one of her chapters:

"De Foe had only one predecessor. This was Chaucer....Chaucer was the father of English poetry, so De Foe was the father of English novel writing (British Quarterly Review, October 1869)"

Taking into account that Moll Flanders was published in the early 1700s, it is amazing how Defoe, without giving the reader an insurmountable display of the milieu of the time, that we are still able to feel and taste the background nevertheless with the assistance of a reader's imagination.

Defoe depicts Moll as being in control of most of her situations and being self-contained to some degree. He uses her character as a tool for some of his own expressions and opinions, which would be expected in light of the fact that he was over the age of 60 when he wrote Moll Flanders. He successfully created a protagonist who displayed determination and perseverance. What Defoe presented was a scenario in which a reader could decide what was right or wrong, in his or her view. It is assumed that the reader will adhere to the environment, culture and society of the time the novel was written and the way a mind is conditioned to believe and/or behave as well.

Daniel Defoe
Daniel Defoe

Defoe successfully puts the reader into the mind of Moll and he does so with words! The reader is able to establish a view of Moll's behavior patterns to such an extent that a guess can be delivered as to what her next move may or may not be. If anything, the reader comes to understand Moll and makes allowances for some of her actions, thus sympathizing with her to a degree. Author Backscheider also commented that "Moll dominates the book that bears her name, and no one who ever reads her story forgets her." One cannot argue that Moll does not continue to persevere despite the events she becomes entangled with. How can a reader avoid cheering for her when it is accepted that all she wants is to be financially secure within the confines of a comfortable home with a likeable partner? How can a reader not offer pity in her direction every time there seems to be a promises that her desires will be fulfilled that some unforeseen event occurs to destroy the very dream?

Defoe's novel is clearly a product of his culture, which the reader can witness within the author's convincing story. There is something to be said about a well-liked or well-known novel that continues to breathe literary criticism since the 18th Century.

An opinion Defoe is saying to the reader in Moll Flanders is that there are great possibilities in colonization and that although he does not fully paint a wide picture of London, he arouses in the reader's imagination a vivid scene anyway which contains people who are thieves. He is also stating in one hand that a thief of a minor crime can be transported to the colonies in North America where there would be perhaps the possibility of a newly found hope. In the other hand, it is still up to the reader's imagination and speculation what Defoe is attempting to communicate through his protagonist. It is not so much that Defoe is condoning the actions of Moll inasmuch as he is also saying, consider the culture, the day and age and by all means, look at all the circumstances involved that shape a being's mind. Also, consider or ponder why one is forced to act or behave out of sheer necessity. Indeed, the reader is presented with examples in which Moll, herself, feels trapped and desperate.

From the beginning of the novel, Defoe presents his readers with a young girl who is all too vulnerable and naive, who falls for a man who eventually betrays her heart and seems to be the beginning of the creation of her seemingly hardened heart. He is giving us a character in her words, by his own words, that we cannot let go of in thought and no matter how one might try to not like her for who she is, that is difficult.

Defoe's language and writing style for his time as presented in his novel makes his story convincing. He causes his readers to forget about what Moll has done and instead, she is looked upon with pity. Also, that she is not too complicated of human being, but rather, she is human. She is doing the best with the set of circumstances she was given when she arrived in the world. He produces a character and makes her come alive with language, alone, and this cannot be stated enough. With the same language, he convinces the reader she is a real person, a person who is sharing with the reader, too, her whole life story. It is also to be considered what Defoe, as a human being, is trying to say about his immediate surroundings and culture.

Readers will find Defoe was a man of intelligence, that he had a sensitive awareness and that he used his own experiences in life to unfold his language from his mind. He cannot be compared to Chaucer or Shakespeare. He should be viewed as who he was, what he had to offer, and what he wanted to say with his literary talents.


Submit a Comment

No comments yet.


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)