0323 | Moll Flanders | Daniel Defoe

0323 | Moll Flanders | Daniel Defoe

Context: Finished this as the wife and I read by the first fire we made in our new house.


This is a quite remarkable novel for its time and its authorship. I think Defoe has done an amazing job to get inside the world of women of the late 17th century. Such a feat would be noteworthy in a novel today, let alone three hundred years ago. And I had always thought this was a novel about a woman who, falling on hard times, turns to prostitution. This is a common misconception. Fanny Hill this is most certainly not, thank God.

Despite her not following in Fanny’s footsteps, Moll Flanders is far from innocent. Most of her iniquities however centre on deception and theft. The protagonist is never named, as far as I remember. The name Moll Flanders is one that she acquires during a particularly infamous bout of thievery. At best it is an alias.

What amazed me about the novel was the sympathy that Defoe shows his character. Although he himself was no stranger to prison, going to Newgate for debts and political shenanigans, to be able to understand the plight of a woman who has no family nor fortune and lives centuries before the welfare state really struck me.

Through a series of perfectly normal occurrences, Moll finds herself a single mother early on in the novel and circumstances then take horrendous twists to leave her virtually penniless, having had to abandon her family.

She marries numerous times in the novel and gets further into a life of crime until it catches up with her. The ending of the novel is one of redemption, which I did not expect at all. In fact, I really didn’t expect any of it so it was a welcome read. Definitely ahead of its time.


My true name is so well known in the records or registers at Newgate, and in the Old Bailey, and there are some things of such consequent still depending there, relating to my particular conduct, that it is not be expected I should set my name or the account of my family to this work; perhaps, after my death, it may be better known; at present it would not be proper, no not though a general pardon should be issued, even without exceptions and reserve of persons or crimes.


So certainly does interest banish all manner of affection, and so naturally do men give up honour and justice, humanity, and even Christianity, to secure themselves.

making more work for repentance, and sinning on, as a remedy for sin past

She is always married too soon who gets a bad husband, and she is never married too late who gets a good one…

CLOSING LINE This is a bit of a giveaway so click if you want to show


Moll Flanders | Defoe | 72% | Very Good

Key: Legacy | Plot / toPic | Characterisation / faCts | Readability | Achievement Read more about how I come up with my ratings

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