by Daniel Defoe
Moll Flanders Theme of Morality and Ethics
Moll can't seem to shut up about all the bad things she has done, why they are bad, and how she keeps on doing them anyways. In fact no matter how guilty she feels, she keeps right on doing the very same things that made her feel guilty in the first place, and she is sure to tell us all about it. In detail. Of course Moll is writing her book from the vantage point of old age, so she has had plenty of time to reflect on her past. So in the end, Moll Flanders can be read as one long story with one big moral: be good. And when you can't be good, be clever. You'll have time for repenting later.
Questions About Morality and Ethics
- Does Moll's repentance in prison seem genuine? Is there anything she could have or should have done to make it seem more so?
- How moral does Moll seem compared to the book's other characters?
- Who do you think is the most unethical character in the text, and why? Who is the most ethical?
- Which of Moll's sins troubles her the most, do you think? Why does it bother her so much?
Chew on This
Moll Flanders spends a tremendous amount of time detailing its heroine's crimes and errors, to make her redemption at the end seem all the more sincere and amazing.
By describing Moll's crimes and sins in such detail, the book hints that Moll's repentance is totally insincere.