Moll Flanders : The Age Of Enlightenment

1760 Words Feb 19th, 2016 8 Pages
Daniel Defoe’s novel Moll Flanders is a bold piece of fiction detailing the account of Moll Flanders, a headstrong, independent woman of eighteenth century England who “Was Twelve Year a Whore, Five Times a Wife [Whereof Once To Her Own Brother], Twelve Year a Thief, Eight Year a Transported Felon In Virginia, At Last Grew Rich, Liv’d Honest, and Died a Penitent.” Since the novel’s publishing, Moll’s controversial behavior has attracted the attention of many critics, particularly her unwavering defiance of the conventional gender norms of the time. As exemplified by her apathy towards motherhood, desire for money and impulse for crime, Moll continually strays away from the quintessential female figure of the revered eighteenth century.
Although the eighteenth century was often referred to as the Age of Enlightenment, a historical epoch that called for egalitarian values and practices, the idea of conventional gender roles still prevailed and constituted a formidable challenge to women in particular. Women were held responsible to uphold traditional values, take care of the home and bear and nurture children. Not only were they subjected to adverse discrimination, but they were also perceived as objects and deemed subservient to men. Moll Flanders, now a prominent figure in the literary canon, seeks to defy these very patriarchal prejudices ingrained in society. She first exhibits this defiance by resisting her role as a mother. In the course of the novel, she gives birth to…
Open Document