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ARTICLES IN THE BOOK

  1. A Christmas Carol
  2. Adam Bede
  3. Alice in Wonderland
  4. All's Well That Ends Well
  5. A Midsummer Night's Dream
  6. A Modest Proposal
  7. An Essay Concerning Human Understanding
  8. An Ideal Husband
  9. Antony and Cleopatra
  10. A Passage to India
  11. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
  12. Arms and the Man
  13. A Room With A View
  14. A Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy
  15. A Study in Scarlet
  16. As You Like It
  17. A Tale of a Tub
  18. A Tale of Two Cities
  19. A Woman of No Importance
  20. Barnaby Rudge
  21. Beowulf
  22. Bleak House
  23. Book of Common Prayer
  24. Candida
  25. Captains Courageous
  26. Childe Harold's Pilgrimage
  27. Clarissa
  28. Coriolanus
  29. Daniel Deronda
  30. David Copperfield
  31. Dombey and Son
  32. Don Juan
  33. Emma
  34. Finnegans Wake
  35. Four Quartets
  36. Frankenstein
  37. Great Expectations
  38. Gulliver's Travels
  39. Hamlet
  40. Hard Times
  41. Howards End
  42. Ivanhoe
  43. Jane Eyre
  44. Julius Caesar
  45. Kim
  46. King James Version of the Bible
  47. King Lear
  48. King Solomon's Mines
  49. Lady Chatterley's Lover
  50. Lady Windermere's Fan
  51. Leviathan
  52. Little Dorrit
  53. Love's Labour's Lost
  54. Macbeth
  55. Major Barbara
  56. Mansfield Park
  57. Martin Chuzzlewit
  58. Measure for Measure
  59. Middlemarch
  60. Moll Flanders
  61. Mrs. Dalloway
  62. Mrs. Warren's Profession
  63. Much Ado About Nothing
  64. Murder in the Cathedral
  65. Nicholas Nickleby
  66. Northanger Abbey
  67. Nostromo
  68. Ode on a Grecian Urn
  69. Oliver Twist
  70. Othello
  71. Our Mutual Friend
  72. Pamela or Virtue Rewarded
  73. Paradise Lost
  74. Paradise Regained
  75. Peregrine Pickle
  76. Persuasion
  77. Peter Pan
  78. Pride and Prejudice
  79. Pygmalion
  80. Rime of the Ancient Mariner
  81. Robinson Crusoe
  82. Rob Roy
  83. Roderick Random
  84. Romeo and Juliet
  85. Saint Joan
  86. Salomé
  87. Sense and Sensibility
  88. She Stoops to Conquer
  89. Silas Marner
  90. Sons and Lovers
  91. The Alchemist
  92. The Beggar's Opera
  93. The Canterbury Tales
  94. The Case Book of Sherlock Holmes
  95. The Castle of Otranto
  96. The Comedy of Errors
  97. The Dunciad
  98. The Elder Statesman
  99. The Faerie Queene
  100. The Happy Prince and Other Tales
  101. The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling
  102. The Hound of the Baskervilles
  103. The Importance of Being Earnest
  104. The Jungle Book
  105. The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman
  106. The Man Who Would Be King
  107. The Master of Ballantrae
  108. The Merchant of Venice
  109. The Merry Wives of Windsor
  110. The Mill on the Floss
  111. The Mystery of Edwin Drood
  112. The Nigger of the Narcissus
  113. The Old Curiosity Shop
  114. The Pickwick Papers
  115. The Picture of Dorian Gray
  116. The Pilgrim's Progress
  117. The Rape of the Lock
  118. The Second Jungle Book
  119. The Secret Agent
  120. The Sign of Four
  121. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
  122. The Tempest
  123. The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus
  124. The Two Gentlemen of Verona
  125. The Vicar of Wakefield
  126. The Waste Land
  127. The Winter's Tale
  128. Timon of Athens
  129. Titus Andronicus
  130. To the Lighthouse
  131. Treasure Island
  132. Troilus and Cressida
  133. Twelfth Night, or What You Will
  134. Typhoon
  135. Ulysses
  136. Vanity Fair
  137. Volpone
  138. Wuthering Heights
 



LITERARY MASTERPIECES
This article is from:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moll_Flanders

All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Text_of_the_GNU_Free_Documentation_License 

Moll Flanders

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

 

The Fortunes and Misfortunes of the Famous Moll Flanders is a 1722 novel by Daniel Defoe.

Defoe wrote this after his work as a journalist and pamphleteer. By 1722, Defoe had become recognized as a novelist, with the success of Robinson Crusoe in 1719. His political work was tapering off at this point, due to the fall of both Whig and Tory party leaders with whom he had been associated; Robert Walpole was beginning his rise, and Defoe was never fully at home with the Walpole group.

Defoe's Whig views are nevertheless evident in the story of Moll. The full title of the novel tells part of its story:

The Fortunes and Misfortunes of the Famous Moll Flanders, Etc. Who was born in Newgate, and during a life of continu'd Variety for Threescore Years, besides her Childhood, 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. Written from her own Memorandums.

Plot summary

Moll's mother is a convict who is given a reprieve by "pleading her belly," a reference to the custom of staying the executions of pregnant criminals. Moll is raised until adolescence by a good foster mother, gets attached to a household as a servant where she is loved by both of the sons, marries one son and has children, is widowed, leaves her children to the care of in-laws, and begins honing the skill of passing herself off as a fortuned widow to attract a man who will marry her and provide her with security.

The first time she does this, her husband goes bankrupt and leaves her on her own with his blessing to do the best she can and assume he is dead. The second time, she makes a match that leads her to Virginia with a good man who introduces her to his mother. After two children, Moll begins to discern that her mother-in-law is her biological mother, which means her husband is her brother. She flees back to England and goes to live in The Mint to hide from debtors.

Again she returns to her con skills and makes a match with a man from Lancashire who turns out to be a gentleman without means who has been conning her (falling for her con that she is a wealthy widow). Alas, these two truly fall in love, but part anyway because they have not a penny to live on if they stay together.

Moll resorts to another conned beau, a banker, who marries her then dies in financial ruin after five years. Truly desperate now, she begins a career of artful thievery, which, by employing her wits, beauty, charm, and feminity, brings her the financial security she always sought. Downside: she is caught, and sent to Newgate Prison.

Here, she is counseled by a man of the cloth who leads her to repentance and enlightenment. At the same time, she reunites with her soul-mate, her "Lancashire husband," who is also jailed. The two are sent to Maryland to avoid hanging, and happily are together. Once in the colonies, she learns her mother has left her a plantation and her own son is alive, as is her brother (husband).

She carefully introduces herself to her son who welcomes her with open arms. At last, her life of conniving and desperation seems to be over. Her wits now employed toward business and good sense, she establishes a successful farm with her Lancashire husband, and the two retire in prosperity.

Major themes

The story is believed by some to be a tale of capitalism due to the numerous allusions to money, contracts, and other currency-related items. Everything, including people, has a monetary value. This gives the reader a feeling of Moll's calculating personality.

Moll Flanders often causes the reader to question if doing something amoral out of necessity is really amoral at all.

Literary significance & criticism

The tale has been called picaresque and a morality tale, and in truth it is both. As a picaresque, Moll is a lower class character who travels among the wealthy and exposes their vanity and shallowness. However, as a morality tale the novel can be read two different ways. On the one hand, the story of Moll could be classically tragic: she possesses a single fault of hubris in that she wishes to be a lady — a station she was not entitled to — and commits adultery, prostitution, child neglect, and incest in an effort to rise to this station, only to be brought to confession, forgiveness, and a "proper" life in the middle class. On the other hand, it could also be read as a woman whose crime is self-reliance and lack of Christian obedience, who therefore commits crimes out of sinful willfulness, to whom prosperity as well as peace come only with confession, redemption, and subjugation to the Divine. Thus, the novel explores both contemporary 18th century conservative and liberal ideologies.

Defoe himself was a noted Puritan. His views are unambiguous, in that he believes and writes for hard work, devotion, and the work of providence as grace. There is some debate, however, as to whether Defoe intended Moll as an entirely sympathetic character. The novel, devoting many pages to crime and sin and very few to repentance or even remorse, leads the reader to question Moll's desire for forgiveness. She is therefore an ambivalent character. Some have even speculated that Defoe intended the book partially as a titillating moneymaker. These arguments often allude to Defoe's preface, in which he mentions "lewd ideas" and "immodest terms" that could lead the audience to read the work for scandalous entertainment instead of moral value.

The novel combines Defoe's interests in conversion narratives with his experience and interest in crime. Moll Flanders was a popular novel, and Defoe's reputation was aided by it. He had earlier written about criminals for various journals, and Moll Flanders increased his cachet as a writer of criminal lives. Soon after the publication of Moll Flanders, he wrote two different lives, of Jack Sheppard, the Cockney housebreaker, in 1724, and a novella length life of Jonathan Wild in 1725. Also in 1724, Defoe returned to the subject of fallen women with an even more salacious Roxana. The life of Moll Cutpurse, who is mentioned in the book, undoubtedly inspired Defoe although she is quite a different character to Moll Flanders.

From the point of view of historians, Moll Flanders is valuable for its information on the life, punishment, and habits of the criminal world. In addition to being one of the few detailed descriptions of life in The Mint, it is also one of the best narratives of life in Newgate prison, the punishments of prostitution (as well as a common prostitute's tale), and the way that America was viewed in the early 18th century. The novel is itself a bit of pro-immigration propaganda, in that it portrays America as a place of peace, religious tolerance (so long as it is dissenting Protestant), and opportunity. In contrast to later depictions (e.g. Oliver Goldsmith's The Deserted Village), Defoe's Puritan depiction is naive. Although Defoe is a biased witness, Moll Flanders has a high value for cultural history.

Selected quotations

…and let any one judge what must be the anguish of my mind, when I came to reflect that this was certainly no more or less than my own mother, and I had now had two children, and was big with another by my own brother, and lay with him still every night.

I was now the most unhappy of all women in the world. Oh! had the story never been told me, all had been well; it had been no crime to have lain with my husband, since as to his being my relation I had known nothing of it.

From The Fortunes and Misfortunes of the Famous Moll Flanders, from the works of Daniel Defoe at Project Gutenberg.

Film, TV or theatrical adaptations

George Sanders and Kim Novak in The Amorous Adventures of Moll Flanders
Enlarge
George Sanders and Kim Novak in The Amorous Adventures of Moll Flanders

There are several movies based on this novel; a search on the IMDb reveals four adaptations:

The 1965 adaptation titled The Amorous Adventures of Moll Flanders starred Kim Novak as Moll Flanders, Richard Johnson as Jemmy, and Angela Lansbury as Lady Blystone, with George Sanders as the banker, and Lilli Palmer as Dutchy.

A 1975 British TV adaptation, Moll Flanders, aired on BBC starring Julia Foster as Moll and Kenneth Haigh as Jemmy.

A middling adaptation is the 1996 Moll Flanders starring Robin Wright Penn as Moll Flanders and Morgan Freeman as Hibble, with Stockard Channing as Mrs. Allworthy.

A worthy British TV adaptation aired on ITV and PBS in 1996 titled The Fortunes and Misfortunes of Moll Flanders starring Alex Kingston as Moll.

Note that none of the movie adaptations attempt to capture all of the plotting of the novel, though the four hour 1996 mini-series does include most of the salient details. The plot of the theatrical release starring Penn (released in the same year), however, bears no resemblance to the novel apart from the names of the characters and the general setting of early eighteenth century Britain.

External links

  • The Fortunes and Misfortunes of the Famous Moll Flanders, available freely at Project Gutenberg
  • The Amorous Adventures of Moll Flanders at the Internet Movie Database (1965 movie)
  • Moll Flanders at the Internet Movie Database (1975 TV movie)
  • Moll Flanders at the Internet Movie Database (1996 movie)
  • The Fortunes and Misfortunes of Moll Flanders at the Internet Movie Database (1996 TV movie)
Retrieved from "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moll_Flanders"

 

 

 


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