Female Characterism In Defoe's The Fortunate Mistress

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Literary critics who have examined this narrative have failed to recognize the importance of Defoe’s choice in creating a female individual character within the neoclassical time period. Taking into consideration the time period itself, the concept of the individual had been newly introduced. It was the decision of the writer to construct his or her own characters, personalize their behavior and characteristics, and determine the role they play in society. Not only was it incredibly unusual for a male writer to write from the female perspective, but within The Fortunate Mistress, Defoe is able to further examine the notion of identity by using Roxana as an archetype for an early feminist individual. The concept of a male writer inviting a female character who is opposed to the societal ideas, primarily the patriarchal hierarchy of the time, is incredibly significant since modern feminist thought can be found rooted in the time period through socially aware individuals such as Defoe and his heroine Roxana. Beginning with the opening of the narrative, Roxana initially describes herself in a state of utter poverty. Abandoned by her husband she has only a small sum of money, and is left to raise her five children with no means of providing for them. By confiding in her audience that she was able to see her ruin, “hastening on without any possible way to prevent it,” (Defoe 17) Roxana is able to illustrate the extent of her helplessness in the marital role of mother and wife,

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