How does DeFoe, in Moll Flanders, Portray the Social Opportunities, Problems moral Expectations for Women in that Time
Moll Flanders, it is a story mostly based on the life of a woman called Moll. She changed her name from Betty to Mrs. Moll Flanders. The author of this piece of art narrates the story in the first person. The narrator is Moll Flanders. The story by itself is connected to the society and how the life was going on in the time when the story was written in 1683. Knowing the historical background the readers can imply that the setting is in England and in America too. That tells a lot about the peoples’ lives, life opportunities and the set of moral expectations in that time.
DeFoe portrays the social opportunities of women in that time by simply writing about Moll which refers to all women. Writing about how she was grown up it simply can be concluded that the social opportunities were so bad that made women stealing and that Moll uses another name in order to hide her crimes. The part of the story in the course reader mostly portrays that the social opportunities for woman are none or to get married for someone rich. As an answer about the problems of women, it can be said that money is the biggest problem for their existence. That leads to many consequents such as child neglect, stealing, and seducing rich people in order to get married and get money.
According to the reading, women do not really have a control over their lives depending on the social status. Those who are poor do not have any control over their lives and that will be supported by quotes from the reading later in this text. Finding that the elder brother in a way cheats Moll just to take her in bed and then not marrying her leads to a point where the reader needs to measure what is more immoral and whether women are held to a different set of moral expectations then men are. The answer to that questions is that society has moral expectations but not and the characters.
About the social opportunities of women in that society, DeFoe portrays that in a conversation or monologues between the characters. An example of that is “and left me about Half a Year old; and in bad hand you may be sure.” (p. 2) This a great example because it portrays that if one from the very beginning of its life is abandoned and left in bad hands there are not many opportunities to have a success in life.
“One Day after this, as she came into the room, where all we poor Children were at work,” (p.3) this unfinished sentence is another example about the social opportunities in that time. Poor Children is a very strong adjective to describe children. “Poor child, says my good old Nurse, you may soon be such a Gentlewoman as that, for she is a Person of ill name, and she had two or three bastards.” (p.6)
This is also another example that a woman in that society is to end as a whore having children that are born out of marriage. After all these negative opportunities there is something bright that a woman can expect in that time. “And as to the Father, he was a Man in a hurry of public affairs, and getting Money, seldom at Home, thoughtful of the main Chance; but left all those Things to his Wife.” (p.36) His Wife refers to the old lady in whose house Moll is living. That is nice opportunity to get money from someone else, which in this case gives the old lady power and right to order and decide on a lot of things. Money and how rich one was in that time defined the social status.
“But I was hurried on (by my fancy to a Gentleman) to Ruin my self in the grossest manner that ever Woman did; for my new husband coming lump of money at once.” (p.40) This is something that it is normal in that society, to get married for several times and all that again for money.
As an answer about the problems of women, it can be said that money is the biggest problem for their existence. That leads to many consequents such as child neglect, stealing, and seducing rich people in order to get married and get money.
Connecting on the last sentence from the previous paragraph the particular problem in this reading is money. Another problem that can be arising is the human rights. Having in mind that at that time Britain has its colonies and most of the things were not working as they should. “My two Children were indeed taken happily form my Hands, by my Husband’s Father and Mother, and that by the way was all they got by Mrs. Betty.” (p.39) This a typical problem in that time.
The mother cannot have her children if their father dies. They are taken from her. This is a problem that can not be overcome for the reason that the one who has money has a power. “That it was true his Father and Mother might Resent it, and be unkind, but that was now in a way to live, being bred to the Law, and he did not fear Maintaining me,” (p.18) This is another problem in that society. The parents need to decide whom the child will marry. “Well, says the mother, then there’s one Son lost; and she said that it in a very mournful Tone, as one concern’d at it” (p.30) It is obvious that the mother does not want her son to marry someone poor. When her son dies she leaves his wife without the children and with no money.
Of all the examples above about the problems and opportunities of women it can be also concluded that women do not have a full control over their lives. They do have a right to choose but they do not have a full control over their lives. An example of that is the following one “On the other hand, as the market run very Unhappily on the Mens side, I found the Women had lost the Privilege of saying NO,” which shows that women have a right to choose but they depend on their husbands. That leads to the conclusion that they do not have a full control over their lives, not the poor ones.
Finding that the elder brother in a way cheats Moll just to take her in bed and then not marrying her leads to a point where the reader needs to measure what is more immoral and whether women are held to a different set of moral expectations then men are. The answer to that questions is that society has moral expectations but not and the characters.
The answer to the last question will be that man and women are held to the same set of moral expectation. “ Your Dear whore, says I, you would have said, if you had gone on; and you mihjy as well have said it; but I understand you:” Women know that it immoral to be a whore and man knows that too, and yet they do it which puts them in the same position. Their moral expectations full fill each one.
All in all, the historical context of the story and what is going on goes together hand by hand and creates a perfect image not only about the society but also about the problems and moral. Every society throughout the centuries is different and changes. What happens here is that the values, norms and how the society is constructed are what people have decided upon. Even though people were sent to the colonies they still kept the same social structure and have the same problems.