Maximillian Novak in His Study of Moll's Love

Categories: LoveMarriagePoverty

Maximillian Novak, in his study of Moll's love affair with the elder brother, has pointed out how "much of the humor in this first part of Moll Flanders results from the heroine's inability to separate her desire for wealth from her love for the heir"(McMaster 132). Defoe has used a good deal of ingenuity in the verbal texture of his narrative to show how love and avarice amalgamate in Moll's mind. At the lovers' first encounter after the elder brother's declaration one hear how he first "threw me down upon the bed, and kissed me there most violently"(Defoe 17), and then "with that put five guineas into my hand"(Defoe 18).

This is at a stage in Moll's career when she has none to show her the difference between genuine love and the love through the gift of money. Throughout this first affair Moll's genuine love is always inextricably associated with money. The older brother confirms his "thousand protestations of his passion for me"(Defoe 19) with almost a handful of gold and Moll thought of nothing but the fine words and the gold.

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And she being a poor maid who also has a dream to live rich life seeing her mistress and their daughters' facilities, is attracted towards the money paid her by the gentleman wooer of hers. The affair progresses consistently in these terms, "he was very kind to me, and kiss'd me a thousand times and more, I believe, and gave me money too"(Defoe 26).

Absorbed in her romance, Moll tells that she was taken up only with the pride of her beauty, and of being loved by such a gentleman: as for the gold, I spent whole hours in looking upon it; I told the guineas over a thousand times a day".

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As the affair progresses she reflects as he did not seem in the least to lessen his affection to her, so neither did he lessen his bounty. Such consistent association of love with money is not a matter of accidental juxtaposition. Defoe is not only making the point that Moll is covetous, but through her narrative is showing just how she becomes so, and how her mind is being trained to work in the similar manner throughout her life. Moll's training, however, has not prepared her to appreciate such qualities. Moll after been wooed by a gentleman of such rank in the society where he and his family is so much respected, she as a young girl with no one to guide her proper in such confusing situations, she began to feel herself attracted toward him. She was filled with pride for being so gracefully praised by him. Moll thought everything appealing. She felt that he is really true in love with her, for he spared no time to meet her and get close to her whenever they are left alone at home. But poor Moll, her innocence let her not realize the darkness where she is leading her life in allowing this man to love her. She was unable to see such intentions of love critically for she has no experience of life outside the house where she worked.

And every time after having physical attachments with her he always offered her some gold guineas and she instead of questioning the validity of their relationship, gets indulge in wondering the guineas she got. She has the conscience that he loves her for physical attachment, and maybe he do not take a serious heed to the affair, but whenever he comes she is automatically drawn crazily, she forgets everything and thus involves herself in feeble romantic scenes, which clearly reflect the adolescent attraction, Moll then being entering just the stage of adulthood. So she confesses that, "Thus I gave up myself to a readiness of being ruined without the least concern and am a fair memento to all young women whose vanity prevails over their virtue. Nothing was ever so stupid on both sides. Had I acted as became me, and resisted as virtue and honor require, this gentleman had either desisted his attacks, finding no room to expect the accomplishment of his design, or had made fair and honorable proposals of marriage; in which case, whoever had blamed him, nobody could have blamed me. In short, if he had known me, and how easy the trifle he aimed at was to be had, he would have troubled his head no farther, but have given me four or five guineas, and have lain with me the next time he had come at me.

And if I had known his thoughts, and how hard he thought I would be to be gained, I might have made my own terms with him; and if I had not capitulated for an immediate marriage, I might for a maintenance till marriage, and might have had what I would; for he was already rich to excess, besides what he had in expectation; but I seemed wholly to have abandoned all such thoughts as these, and was taken up only with the pride of my beauty, and of being beloved by such a gentleman. As for the gold, I spent whole hours in looking upon it; I told the guineas over and over a thousand times a day. Never poor vain creature was so wrap up with every part of the story as I was, not considering what was before me, and how near my ruin was at the door; indeed, I think I rather wished for that ruin than studied to avoid it"(Defoe 19).

Thus when Moll came to hear that the younger brother desperately love her too and suddenly found that the elder one with his convincing words appealed her then to marry his brother claiming only the thing that it will take time for him to win a property only after which he may think of any sort of indulgences in marriage. In these complexities of her situation, the assertion of the family on the younger son that he shall not marry Moll for she had not a class and no money with her, this showed to her at an early age the importance of money not the matter of love in a marriage relationship. As the mistress of the house warns Robin not to marry Moll who is a 'beggar' by herself. And if a young woman has beauty, birth, breeding, wit, sense, manners, modesty, and all to an extreme, yet if she has not money, she's no body, so speaks one of the sister in the Colchester household where she makes her sexual and then her matrimonial debut. It is of course a thematically central passage, quoted frequently by the critics of Moll Flanders, and its significance is clear enough in a novel about how a woman has to make her way in the world. And indeed this is the time when Moll learns of the importance of money to deal with the outside world.

But Moll's character was till then not spoiled to the one who only sees money. She is not yet a profit seeking lady, as when Robin proposed her she did not give her consent, and never had a desire to do so, she loved the elder son and thought herself to be his wife, and even when forced by her mere lover of whom she even expected a baby, she at last had to give her choice to the younger man for she had no other way, the other taking no heed of her condition, and the family planning to turn her out of house, sisters no longer kind to her, and her having no house to go to if she was thrown out still she slighted towards Robin only with consent of the elders of the house. This proves of Moll to be an honest woman. If she is that bad to have been called as deceiving the sons of the house which provided her, she would have jumped on Robin's first proposal. Having convinced his mother, Robin married her, although from her heart she was still passionate for the elder one as she truly felt for him. They had several years been together, bore him children, but he died after sometimes and her children been taken away to be taken care of by the parents she was left alone in London.

From the significant initial episode where the child Moll announces her intention to be 'a gentlewoman', Defoe shows how she learns to associate approbation, hope of success, and all things enjoyable with money. Robin woos her not with secret gifts of money and vague promises, but with outright declarations of love, before witnesses; and to prove his is "in earnest" he produces no silk purse, but an offer of immediate marriage. When his sister objects to Moll's want of fortune, he replies, "I love the girl; and I will never please my pocket in marrying, and not please my fancy" (Defoe 27). Trained in her first love experience with the elder brother that love is meant to be romance and gold coins, and so no wonder Moll despises him, however his generosity makes for her advantage. She follows him to the altar "like a bear to the stake" (Defoe 42), and while she is his wife she never was in bed with her husband but she wished herself in the arms of his brother.

In Moll Flanders, Moll Flanders was merely a victim of the male dominant society. She was driven by all the forces of the world to pursue the immoral things. The inner conflicts of Moll Flanders was well recognized just as she felt what she did was contradictory to what she thought when she got married with the banker friend, "but I, prompt by that worst of devils, poverty, returned to the vice practice, and make the advantage of what they call a handsome face, be the relief to my necessities, and beauty be a pimp to vice"(Defoe 137). It is evident that what Moll Flanders did was not exactly out of her choice. What she intended to do was to get rid of poverty. At that time, money had the power to determine almost everything, including marriage, status, and even people's fate, especially women's fate. It was not her own fatal propensity that strengthened Moll's behavior but the continuous stimulation of the socio-economic necessity: "Give me not poverty least I Steal" (Defoe 139). Such poverty brought about a lot of problems for people, particularly for women like Moll. She had learned cheating from her affairs with the elder brother. Moll and the elder brother had relationship, yet, the elder brother turned her into the wife of his younger brother, "diligently did· cheat him, and had the Thanks of a faithful Friend for shifting off his Whore into his Brothers Arms for a Wife" (Defoe 42). Through the experience, Moll firstly knew how gentlemen could behave. They would use any method to satisfy their affections, and sometimes give up humanity and justice to secure themselves.

After Robin's death, Moll had no one to rely on. Since then, she made up her mind to live a life with legal methods of her own. And after her first marriage, being alone in a male dominated society she wanted to rely on someone, and thus being offered love by a gentleman draper, she made her move, but soon after found that he spent all her money and soon went bankrupt. He broke out of jail leaving Moll to marry to her choice again. Now if Moll marries again if she meets someone good enough it will be wrong to term her a whore or a fallen woman, for circumstances necessitated it for her. She must have proved fully a loyal wife to the draper but it is he who misused her money and left her in poverty. After a period of time in which Moll helped a friend of hers to regain and humble a disdainful lover. "In the patriarchal society, men and women were unequal, not only in the marital life, but also in the social life" (Erikson 89). Men played the active role in marriages, yet, women were subordinate to men. Males had the power to choose their wife randomly and inquired about their property condition, on the contrary, what females could do was merely obeying orders.

After Moll's second marriage, Moll made friends with a young wealthy lady, who was courted by a young sea captain. He was very angry and abandoned the young lady because she inquired his character secretly among his neighbors. Surprisingly, he then courted a poor woman with less fortune. Moll took this opportunity to help the young lady to take revenge to the man. She promised to her that she would "bring the man to her door again, and make him beg to be let in" (Defoe 50). At first, Moll led the young lady to say to the people around her that it was she who terminated the engagement with the captain because he lied. She discovered that the captain had got married and did not have the fortune as he claimed. What's worse was that he was very bad-tempered. Hence, she deemed that it was improper to marry him. In the meanwhile, Moll embellished the rumors by continuing making up story of the captain. Thus the captain's reputation was destroyed. He had no choice but to go back to the door of the young lady. Then the lady "had her full Revenge of him" (Defoe 52). The success of the revenge owed to Moll. She fought for the equality between men and women for herself, at the same time she helped her friend to play the equal role in love affairs and in the marriage.

Defoe uses a large amount of words to express the process of Moll's revenge. One of the reasons is that it is the first success of Moll in the marriage market, though she is only a director in this case. The revenge presents Moll's wisdom clearly and implies her resistance against the traditional custom. To some extent, her pursuit for equality represents the awakening of feminism because the most important sign of feminism is to realize the equality between men and women. That Moll fight against men shows Moll's resistance against the male-centered world.

Updated: May 19, 2021
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Maximillian Novak in His Study of Moll's Love. (2019, Dec 14). Retrieved from

Maximillian Novak in His Study of Moll's Love essay
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