Roxana Questions and Answers
by Daniel Defoe

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I'm due to write a close reading essay of a passage from the Oxford World Classics version of Roxana from "but the case diff'd between Amy" to "and she was really with-Child" (pp. 47-48). It's due in 2 days, so any tips would be awesome!

There’s plenty of tips and ideas for an essay on that passage in Daniel Defoe’s Roxana. One tip would be to think about the possibly homoerotic qualities of Roxana’s and Amy’s relationship and how they might be realized through Mr. —. Another tip is to think about class and how that makes Amy susceptible to Roxana’s manipulations.

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The passage you chose from Daniel Defoe’s Roxana should give you lots of concepts and ideas to discuss in your possible essay.

You could discuss how the passage exemplifies the power that Roxana has over Amy. It’s because of Roxana that Amy is “debauch’d” by Roxana’s almost husband. Roxana is the instigator. She’s the one who arranges Amy and Mr. —’s sexual encounters. It’s not just Amy. It’s like she controls Mr. — too. You might want to analyze why Roxana wants to have so much power over people. You could analyze how Roxana’s display of power reflects her own character. As Roxana says, “I was now become the Devil’s Agent, to make others as wicked as myself.”

In addition to power, you could discuss the passage in terms of class dynamics and the ways in which the working class can be manipulated and exploited. Remember how dedicated Amy is to Roxana. She even offers to work free. Of course, Amy is much more than Roxana’s maid. You could make the case that the passage turns Amy into something like a prostitute and Roxana into something like her pimp. Remember, Amy doesn’t just have sex with him once. Roxana brings her to him “several times.” Indeed, the passage seems to symbolize the things that some workers will do, however reluctantly, to please their bosses, masters, or employers.

One final tip: you could use the passage for a queer reading. You could use the section to make the case that Roxana and Amy have something like a lesbian or homoerotic relationship. You might be able to argue that it’s Roxana that really wants to have sex with Amy. Yet since that would get her into even more trouble, she has sex with Amy through Mr. —. Maybe that’s why Roxana says, “I was extremely concern’d at the Aversion he had taken to my Maid.” She wants Mr. — to love Amy like she does since Mr. — is the conduit in which she can express her sexual desire for another woman. Really, she wants to have a child with Amy, but it’s the 1700s, so it’s not socially acceptable yet.