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Morality vs. Materialism in Moll Flanders

Moll Flanders begins life with a great disadvantage. She was born in Newgate, a famous prision, where her mother was arrested for thievery. Moll’s mother was taken away by the Old Bailey and transported to Virginia, that’s how she ended growing up on her own. She then started serving as a maid. Maids were paid little, but at least they were fed and clothed. At a very early stage of her new life she learned how to take care of herself and the things she had do to survive. Therefore she learns the difference between materialism and morality. Moll was not a very moral person, but she knew she had to survive someway. Moll faces a lot of problems, which are firmly rooted in that time society, through out her ingenious and extraordinary life. In Moll’s first marriage we can see her lack of morality; she did not love him, even though she accepted him fearing to refuse him, and she thought that anyway she was going to have a wonderful life with everything she ever wanted. Moll was a very demanding woman. She wanted the best life could offer and that’s what led her to a life of crime in her near future. She would deal with having a great life full of luxury and lust or just live a normal life with someone who really cares for her. Therefore what is the comparison between morality and materialism through out Moll’s life?

Moll was a poor women, who wanted something more from life. Poor women could hardly make an honest living because there was almost nothing women could do, that’s why theft and prostitution were occupations open for women in the 17th and 18th century. Moll Flanders is a woman whose morality is based on materialism. She wants to be a gentlewoman, but she doesn’t have the resources to become one, so she decides to get married for money and live a life of crime. There are times when Moll thinks that her crimes are caused by the devil “This was the bait; and the devil, who laid the snare, prompted me as if he had spoke, for I remember, and shall never forget it, ‘twas like a voice spoken over my shoulder Take the bundle…” (p. 14). Moll sees it as madness, or the devil’s work, that she can’t stop stealing even when she’s risking her life. Moll Flanders is the result of a social system in which women, specially poor women, could hardly make an honest living, and completely lost their reputations if they were seduced, making it almost impossible to find a job. “And now, dear sir, said I, turning to my new spouse again, be so just to me as to tell me who has abused both you and me so much as to make believe I was a fortune and prompt you to court me to this marriage?” (p.107). Moll tells her new husband that she doesn’t have the quantity of money he thinks she has, and he got furious because he doesn’t have money either and was looking for a wealthy wife. Moll constantly seeks enough wealth or a new wealthy enough husband to free herself from the threat of poverty and the temptations of crime. She wants a great life without having to work for it. Moll Flanders started stealing for living when she was old enough to decide what’s right and wrong. She was always carefully prepared and makes sure she was well dressed so that people would get a very good impression of her, that’s why she’s so successful. Even though materialism for Moll is so important she constantly seeks for moral resolutions. Moll’s efforts to reform can be seen close to the end of the novel, when she felt maternal feelings.

In conclusion, Moll Flanders was a victim of her circumstances, of a society that didn’t give women what they deserved. Even though she could have done something honest like being a good wife and mother from the beginning, maybe everything would have been different. Moll’s life was full of problems that lead her to a path of errors and mistakes. She never really though what she was doing was that bad or degrading, instead she often uses silly excuses to approve what she just did. Molls is women whose morality is based in what she has and what she needs, she tries to be good, but it’s like almost if she didn’t knew how to. Her religion and morality are essentially emotional, it depends how she’s feeling and she expresses her anger in different ways. Moll’s life is full of surprises; it is a journey of self discovery where she learned that a life of crime never leads you to a complete state of happiness in your life.

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