Thursday, January 10, 2008

Moll Flanders

by Daniel Defoe

Grade: C - 14 and up (for sexual themes,

Moll Flanders first and formost challenges ones conception of right and wrong. Do the ends (survival) justify the means (whatever deception or crime it takes to secure it). In the past, I have always been one to argue, emphatically, that no, there is no such thing as situational ethics. Yet, as I read this book, I realized that my thoughts on this came from a life of ease, in a society of justice and equal oportunity. I am left thanking God that I was not a woman, especially one fallen on hard times, in the time and place that this book was written. Time after time Moll is faced with the dilema: a life of misery and starvation, or a dishonest act that will pull her through a little while longer. I find it hard to cast judgement on any of the choices she made under these circumstances; and impossible to swear that I would not be brought to the same decisions. The only thing that I cannot justify in her behavior is the total disregard for her children that is displayed. Not enough mention of her children was made for me to even remember how many she bore. Part of this I am going to attribute the the fact that the book was written by a man. If her strivings were for herself and her children, I would cast no blame on a single choice she made, yet she even, essentially abandoned one of her infants in order to care for herself.

Overall, a very engaging read, giving insight into the life of women in 18th century England; So believable that I find I almost think of it as a memoir.


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