by Daniel Defoe
Moll Flanders Criminality Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Paragraph)
If ever I had a grain of true repentance for a vicious and abominable life for twenty-four years past, it was then. On, what a felicity is it to mankind, said I to myself, that they cannot see into the hearts of one another! How happy had it been for me if I had been wife to a man of so much honesty, and so much affection from the beginning! (705)
Being with someone who's really "honest" is what makes Moll feel bad about doing so many illegal things up to this point in her life. Perhaps because she has been acting so dishonestly, she feels somehow inferior to this guy, who is so obviously a good person. But of course this doesn't stop Moll from going right ahead with her dishonest plans, so we'll have to take this "grain of true repentance" with a grain of something else – salt.
Oh let none read this part without seriously reflecting on the circumstances of a desolate state, and how they would grapple with mere want of friends and want of bread; it will certainly make them think not of sparing what they have only, but of looking up to heaven for support, and of the wise man's prayer, "Give me not poverty, lest I steal." (741)
Moll breaks the fourth wall and talks right to us. That's how much she wants her rationalization of her actions to be understood. She wants it to seem like she had no other choice but to become more criminal than ever, and even cites the Bible to back herself up. We can't help thinking Moll wouldn't be out of place in a courtroom.
And thus I was entered a complete thief, hardened to the pitch above all the reflections of conscience or modesty, and to a degree which I must acknowledge I never thought possible in me. (779)
Our Moll claims to be totally surprised by her new identity as a thief. Of course we readers see it coming as soon as Moll is born into Newgate, or perhaps even as soon as we read the title. But why is Moll so surprised? It's not like she has been an emblem of moral virtue so far.