by Daniel Defoe
Moll Flanders Morality and Ethics Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Paragraph)
Thus my pride, not my principle, my money, not my virtue, kept me honest; though, as it proved, I found I had much better have been sold by my she-comrade to her brother, than have sold myself as I did to a tradesman that was rake, gentleman, shopkeeper, and beggar, all together. (232)
Although the reasoning behind Moll's virtuous behavior is "not [her virtue]" but her "pride," the outcome is the same: Moll acts just as virtuously as she would have if her true modesty were really the reason for rejecting this man. Too bad her virtue isn't rewarded, but punished.
In the meantime, as I was but too sure of the fact, I lived therefore in open avowed incest and whoredom, and all under the appearance of an honest wife; and though I was not much touched with the crime of it, yet the action had something in it shocking to nature, and made my husband, as he thought himself, even nauseous to me. (338)
Moll stresses that the actual sin and the guilty feeling that comes with it far outdoes any outside "appearance" of respectability and "honest[y]." But people only judge what they can see or measure, so no one understands what she's going through or what would make her feel so terrible.
I was struck with this letter as with a thousand wounds, such as I cannot describe; the reproaches of my own conscience were such as I cannot express, for I was not blind to my own crime; and I reflected that I might with less offence have continued with my brother, and lived with him as a wife, since there was no crime in our marriage on that score, neither of us knowing it. (467)
Here's the interesting part: Moll says that it would have been less offensive for her to continue being married to her brother as long as they both are in the dark about their being related. But still, she would have been married to her brother. Yuck. The only thing that's changed is the fact that she is now aware of it. So the sin only becomes a real sin when she becomes aware of it.