by Daniel Defoe
Moll Flanders Identity Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Paragraph)
The author is here supposed to be writing her own history, and in the very beginning of her account she gives the reasons why she thinks fit to conceal her true name, after which there is no occasion to say any more about that. (Preface 2)
The person writing this is, of course, Daniel Defoe, the book's real author. But in a strange twist, he writes the Preface as a character version of himself, and then tells us that the book's actual narrator is a completely different person who goes by Moll Flanders. Right off the bat, we've got a serious identity crisis on our hands. But then, by shifting the focus to why Moll Flanders never says what her real name is, Defoe distracts us from the question of just who wrote the book and whether it's true. Thanks a lot, Mr. Sneaky.
My true name is so well known in the records or registers at Newgate, and in the Old Bailey, and there are some things of such consequence still depending there, relating to my particular conduct, that it is not be expected I should set my name or the account of my family to this work; perhaps, after my death, it may be better known; at present it would not be proper, no not though a general pardon should be issued, even without exceptions and reserve of persons or crimes. (1)
Oh Moll, how convenient. Go right ahead and tell us all your excuses for keeping your name to yourself. Meanwhile, we'll be searching the prison records at Newgate for some juicy scoop on your real identity. All your excuses are all talk, anyways. We think you just might be hiding something else, too.
This is too near the first hours of my life for me to relate anything of myself but by hearsay; it is enough to mention, that as I was born in such an unhappy place, I had no parish to have recourse to for my nourishment in my infancy; nor can I give the least account how I was kept alive, other than that, as I have been told, some relation of my mother's took me away for a while as a nurse, but at whose expense, or by whose direction, I know nothing at all of it. (7)
Moll bypasses a detailed description of the early years of her life through a series of negatives: "unhappy," "no parish," "nor can I give the least account," "I know nothing at all of it." Nothing and nobody. No wonder she invents an identity for herself.