Review on Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe Essay

July 16, 2021 by Essay Writer

Updated: Apr 6th, 2019

Childhood is the period which is meaningful for every person because it is the start of a life-long journey. In his Moll Flanders, Daniel Defoe concentrates on many controversial social issues. Moreover, the childhood theme is also masterfully described in the novel as the key point for understanding the persons’ actions and the peculiarities of their further lives.

Thus, Daniel Defoe reveals all the worst features of the world’s reality and discovers all the hidden details of the persons’ souls in the work. He also accentuates the seriousness of the harmful surrounding which a child can undergo in his life and its influence.

The effects of childhood follow persons during their whole lives. Furthermore, people have the opportunity to observe the peculiarities of children’s everyday life as the part of the society anywhere.

To discuss the peculiarities of describing the concept of childhood in the novel, it is necessary to focus on the actual substance of childhood as it is and on the impacts of childhood on the life of the main heroine of the novel. Thus, in his novel the author presents the notion of childhood as a stand point to watch the heroine’s destiny and present her further development into a young lady with her own hidden psychological troubles.

Defoe opens his novel as a really strict narration that derives conclusion right away saying that Moll is going to continue her mother’s destiny, as well. This is what life did to her: born in dreadful conditions, not having an opportunity to meet mother ever, and raised by gypsies, Moll is not as bad as she could have become.

The peculiarities of Moll’s situation make her act as a grown-up. This situation can be considered as typical for that period. It was the eighteenth century – the time of nobilities, good manners, and dismissal of poor from any worthy life sphere.

Moreover, women could not have any rights except being a seamstress, if she wanted to work. Therefore, a girl who could possibly get to that atmosphere was doomed to lead a very modest life when she is a grown-up. A boy, however, had slightly more chances to achieve success and work.

Those children who were growing without their parents’ treatment in streets began to act and behave as grown-ups in order to survive in dangerous surroundings. They did not know that childhood as it could be with the parents’ care and without the needs to work since the age of eight as Moll worked.

However, those children who were born in rich families had the opportunity to enjoy all the pleasures of living with parents, even in spite of the fact that they were brought up by nurses. Thus, the memories about her childhood followed Moll during her life. That is why she tried to do all possible to pay much attention to her own child.

In some of the situations Moll states, “I was greatly perplexed about my little boy. It was death to me to part with the child” (Defoe 77). And furthermore, “If I was but sure my little baby would be carefully looked to, and have justice done it” (Defoe 107).

It is important that those people who bring up children have an extreme influence on their lives. Thus, the nurse Moll lived with was a very good example to follow. And, maybe, due to such a nondurable experience Moll turned out to have her own children ultimately.

The nurse is described as the following, “…she bred up the children she took with a great deal of art, as well as with a great deal of care… [she provided her children with] a plain diet, coarse lodging, and mean clothes…we were brought up as mannerly and as genteelly as if we had been at the dancing-school” (Defoe 8).

It is necessary to mention that although Moll is presented to very harsh conditions throughout her childhood, Defoe still brings in an element of an invisible helping hand as if supporting the idea that there is an angel that every child has.

Nevertheless, the theme of abandoned children can be observed on many pages of the novel. In Defoe’s novel childhood is depicted as the period for the fight for better conditions for life. Thus, Moll often meets beggars on her way.

They are described as dark shadows of London’s streets. There are charity programs for such children in society; the authorities try to influence their lives. However, who would like to be a subject of charity? A child raised in conditions of condescension is likely to grow up having no respect for him. Is it possible to avoid the life of purposeless people, miserable drunkards, thieves, criminals, or murderers?

Daniel Defoe depicts childhood in the darkest colors that could ever be. He accentuates that Moll Flanders tried to escape her destiny, but she could not. Moll, being the central figure, makes the reader sympathize with her troubles, though at the same time wonder how in the world she could make it to a relatively good future.

Yet, she had a chance. And there are a number of such children who became unhappy and sad adults because they did not have a chance to change their life.

In his novel Defoe also reveals the theme of children’s aloneness. It is rather difficult to survive in the world where people have no support and understanding of their relatives and friends. What is the destiny for an orphan?

A child cannot possibly grow up as a rich and self-conscious personality. No one is ever able to have a rich inner world without friends or anyone to rely on. Streets and bands create the conditions for growing up as a severe and rough personality. This is, unfortunately, a side effect of self-sufficiency.

Being independent takes effort. A person faces challenges and life makes him bend down to earth, whereas some stand up back straight and some break. When speaking about simple survival, it is hard to consider decent childhood conditions for fostering main virtues.

And so, Moll was presented to the following being: “…even before I was capable either of understanding my case or how to amend… [she was] brought into a course of life which was not only scandalous in itself, but which in its ordinary course tended to the swift destruction both of soul and body” (Defoe 1).

Childhood can be thought of as the most essential part for fostering ideals and habits in a child. Moll in Moll Flanders is the splendid representation what poor childhood conditions may lead to. Completely disoriented and lost in her life, Moll is an example of what can possibly happen to a child who finds him in the same milieu.

Works Cited

Defoe, Daniel. Moll Flanders. USA: Signet Classics, 1996. Print.

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