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Moll Flanders

Moll Flanders


by Daniel Defoe

Moll Flanders Women and Femininity Quotes

How we cite our quotes: (Paragraph)

Quote #7

[…] you may see how necessary it is for all women who expect anything in the world, to preserve the character of their virtue, even when perhaps they may have sacrificed the thing itself. (533)

For a woman of this time period, the image of her "virtue" matters way more than whether or not she actually has it. In other words, acting and appearing like a virgin is more important than actually being one, so maybe there's some hope for Moll. She is, after all, skilled in making people believe she is something she's not.

Quote #8

Two other indictments being brought against them, and the facts being proved upon them, they were both condemned to die. They both pleaded their bellies, and were both voted quick with child; though my tutoress was no more with child than I was. (786)

As in the earlier example, women can use their gender to get a stay of execution, just by claiming they're pregnant. This can work even when the women aren't actually pregnant, as Moll points out that her "tutoress" definitely does not have a bun in the oven. Unfortunately, for those women, once it's been discovered that they're not pregnant their time runs out and its back to the drawing board or out to the gallows.

Quote #9

I was tall and personable, but a little too smooth-faced for a man; however, I seldom went abroad but in the night, it did well enough; but it was a long time before I could behave in my new clothes – I mean, as to my craft. It was impossible to be so nimble, so ready, so dexterous at these things in a dress so contrary to nature […] (823)

After all her talk about women's rights and more equal relations between genders, Moll wastes no time in talking about how dressing up like a man makes her kind of uncomfortable. You'd think she might get a kick out of wearing the pants, maybe a rush of power, but instead she says that it's "a dress so contrary to nature." So while she wants the sexes to be more equal, she wants them to be absolutely separate.

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