The Classics Club: Moll Flanders

Moll Flanders

  • Author: Daniel Defoe
  • Pages: 319

This is one of the many Classic novels I got for free from Barnes and Noble for my Nook so many years ago.  It was mentioned in Bibliotherapy: The Girl’s Guide to Books for Every Phase of Our Lives by Nancy Peske and Beverly West, and so I added it to my TBR.  Daniel Defoe’s introduction stated that this was the story of a woman who led the life of a criminal and then repented.  Instead, the story reaffirms the abysmal state of women during the 18th century, especially poor women without a family name and reputation to fall back on.

While I understand that, for the time, the  story was considered scandalous and full of intrigue, the first part of the book was rather dull, and I kept wondering how Moll getting taken advantage of by seemingly every man she came into contact with was somehow indicative of her being a criminal.  I felt sorry for her and her naive trust in wealthy men who only wanted to turn her into their personal whore.  The second part was a little better, and the criminal activities she participates in so she could cobble together a living for herself only made me feel that much more sympathetic towards her and women of her time.  Also, I didn’t see Moll’s escape from a life of crime as a repentance for past sins and her transformation into a morally upstanding English citizen so much as taking the opportunity to get out of England and start a new life with a considerably higher chance of not dying in prison.  However, she’s still too trusting and ends up with a d-bag of a husband.  The more things change…

I think Charles Dickens would have written this story much better than Daniel Defoe did.  Yes, there’s a hundred years difference between the two authors and their writing styles, but Defoe knew how to take his time getting to the point.  Throughout most of the story, I was either bored or wondering when the real criminal behavior would begin.  Towards the end, I just wanted it to be over with already.  The only thing I’m happy about is finally being able to cross this Classic off my list.