by Daniel Defoe
Moll Flanders Identity Quotes
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[…] my condition was very odd, for though I had no child (I had had one by my gentleman draper, but it was buried), yet I was a widow bewitched; I had a husband and no husband, and I could not pretend to marry again, though I knew well enough my husband would never see England any more, if he lived fifty years. […] the first thing I did was to go quite out of my knowledge, and go by another name. This I did effectually, for I went into the Mint too, took lodgings in a very private place, dressed up in the habit of a widow, and called myself Mrs. Flanders. (239-40)
Moll doesn't like where her current life has dropped her, so she simply reboots, moving to a new area where she can become someone else entirely. This sounds like a great idea until you realize that it sends Moll off on a downward spiral of fake identities, thievery, and running away from her problems. Whenever things are going really badly, Moll will just become someone else, somewhere else. Never mind the folks she leaves behind.
I resolved, therefore, as to the state of my present circumstances, that it was absolutely necessary to change my station, and make a new appearance in some other place where I was not known, and even to pass by another name if I found occasion. (279)
Moll gives herself a brand spanking new blank slate. But do you really think she'll be able to escape her past?
[…] let any one judge what must be the anguish of my mind, when I came to reflect that this was certainly no more or less than my own mother, and I had now had two children, and was big with another by my own brother, and lay with him still every night.
I was now the most unhappy of all women in the world. Oh! had the story never been told me, all had been well; it had been no crime to have lain with my husband, since as to his being my relation I had known nothing of it. (334-335)
This just goes to show: it pays to do a little Googling before you marry a guy. But seventeenth century England lacked the wonders of modern technology, so Moll has to dive right into marriage blind. The end result? She winds up marrying her own brother. Never mind the ick factor. What's really problematic here is that it means Moll will soon be all alone and penniless all over again.