The Control Of The Female Body Has Long Been Perpetuated Through The Institution Of Marriage

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The control of the female body has long been perpetuated through the institution of marriage. Women lived through their husbands, and marriage “is [their] only means of support and the sole justification of [their] existence” (de Beauvoir, 1997: 446). The relationship between money, marriage and love is one of the major themes in Moll Flanders. When Moll declares that “[she] had been trick’d once by that Cheat call’d, LOVE, but the Game was over’ [she] was resolv’d now to be Married, or Nothing, and to well Married, or not at all”, she learns that love without security of marriage is useless (Defoe, 2011: 51). Moll becomes aware that as a woman, any stable career opportunities for her were non-existent and she must rely on men for a sense of security. Yet she never gives the impression she is controlled by men but uses them to increase her own value in society. To Defoe, Moll’s marriages are acts of ‘matrimonial whoredom’, which is marrying for money rather than love. Shirlene Mason suggests that Defoe is critical of Moll’s determination to defy the bounds of legal marriage and therefore punishes her by ending her marriages on poor terms. Yet, this misogynistic attitude is offset by how Defoe seems to be using Moll to underscore the inequities of marriage laws. Maximilian E. Novak, on the other hand, notes that Defoe is critical of eighteenth-century English marriage law (1963). Through Moll’s experience and the elder brother’s unwillingness to commit, Defoe criticises

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