Moll Flanders Sample Essay Outlines
by Daniel Defoe

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Sample Essay Outlines

Topic #1
Discuss the critique of economic self-interest contained in Moll Flanders.

Outline
I.Thesis Statement: In Moll Flanders, Daniel Defoe explores the social and psychological consequences of individual greed.

II. The role of economic motivation in Moll Flanders
A. Historical Setting
B. Social circumstances of the main character
C. Psychological motivation of the main character

III. Moll’s pursuit of wealth
A. Her first affair
B. Her adventures in marriage
C. Her life of crime

IV. Moll’s materialistic approach to moral salvation
A. Her repentance
B. Her move to America
C. Her prosperous old age

V. Conclusion: Defoe seems to suggest that material ambition can lead both to moral corruption and to spectacular financial success.

Topic #2
Explore Defoe’s approach to criminal activity in Moll Flanders.

Outline
I. Thesis Statement: In Moll Flanders, Daniel Defoe provides profound insight into eighteenth–century British views of criminal behavior.

II. Historical Background
A. Defoe’s familiarity with Newgate Prison
B. Defoe’s preoccupation with ingenious criminals

III. Moll’s descent into crime
A. Moll’s criminal activities
B. Moll’s view of her own behavior
C. The psychological effects of Moll’s criminal acts

IV. The legal and penal system as depicted in Moll Flanders
A. Moll’s encounters with the law
B. Moll’s incarceration in Newgate Prison
C. Moll’s first and second sentencing

V. Defoe’s conception of the American colonies as a refuge for criminals
A. Moll’s mother’s life after her transportation to America
B. Moll and Jemy’s life after their transportation to America
VI. Conclusion: In some ways, Defoe seems to romanticize criminal life.

Topic #3
Examine the critique of aristocracy contained in Moll Flanders.

Outline
I. Thesis Statement: Throughout Moll Flanders, Defoe criticizes the aristocratic notion that property and social standing should be inherited rather than earned.

II. Historical Background
A. The role of aristocracy in eighteenth-century British society
B. The rise of the stock market, the commercialization of agriculture, and the growth of international trade
C. The conflicts between traditional and modern ideas about individual prosperity

III. Moll’s encounters with aristocracy early in her life
A. Moll’s childhood ambition to become a ‘gentlewoman’
B. The contrast between Moll and the daughters in her wealthy foster family

IV. Moll’s efforts to adopt an aristocratic disguise
A. Moll’s ability to pose as a wealthy widow
B. Moll’s attraction to the trappings of aristocratic life

V. The depiction of male aristocrats in Moll Flanders
A. The dishonesty of the elder son in Moll’s foster family
B. Jemy’s aristocratic pretensions
C. The conduct of the gentleman of Bath
D. The behavior of the baronet

VI. Moll and Jemy’s rise to aristocratic standing at the end of Moll...

(The entire section is 693 words.)