Student Question

What is the role of servitude in Moll Flanders?

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We can take the theme of servitude in a number of different ways. One of the interesting aspects of this novel is the way that Moll Flanders as a character is never oppressed or kept down by the positions of servitude in which she finds herself. She is certainly blessed with a great deal of luck, but even considering this, at the same time she seems to be a character who is intelligent enough to work within the various roles that are imposed upon her for her own advancement. This is shown perhaps most clearly in her youth, where she obviously uses her intelligence and, most importantly, her beauty and sexual allure, to work to improve her lot within the roles of servitude that are imposed upon her. Let us remember that in the context of this novel women were considered at best as second class citizens, and a woman with the kind of background that Moll has would have been shunned from all decent society. This is what makes the story of Moll so amazing. In spite of the way that society treated and regarded women, and working class women on top of that, she is able to use what charms and talents she has been given for her own benefit, showing the way in which traditional notions and roles of servitude can be subverted.

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