Moll Flanders is filled with opportunities for students to think about the novel as an art form that was created a long time ago and has thus evolved. Moll is the genesis; it's what The Beatles were to rock 'n' roll, what pepperoni is to pizza, and what Twilight is to vampires. It's like seeing a silent movie and comparing it to the CGI films of today—Charlie Chaplin meets Avatar. Moll Flanders is a glimpse into the past, and it will help students understand the history and tradition of the novel.
Despite the differences, there are core characteristics that link Moll to modern novels the same way an old black-and-white photo reveals how much Great Grandpa Nils looks like cousin Billy. Students can view Defoe's work through a historical and literary lens to expand their knowledge of both disciplines. This text is primo cross-content material and can be used as a companion to primary sources from 18th-century England, so be sure to powwow with your fellow history teacher and seize those opportunities.