To what extent can an individual be influenced by a social system?
Through the character of Moll Flanders, Daniel Defoe presents us an critical view on the 17th century England, especially introduces us the life of a woman comming from the lower social class of London. Moll Flanders, though not her real name, accounts of her own life history from the time she is born to her very last years. Moll Flanders is full of contradicions. On one side we see a person she would like to become and on the other is the real Moll. Her life meets with a number of unfortunate episodes being in constant struggle for survival. The most significant notion surges to the surface is a question of morality. Moll is presented from the negative point of view; in the course of her life she becomes a notorious criminal. However, by the end of her life we see a Moll that is completely penitent leading a happy, balanced life. The question arises whether the criminal is a product of the social system or it is their nature and is morally defective as an individual.
At the beggining a short account is given to the severity of justice and criminal law as well as to the cruelty of the social system. A comparison is made to the surrounding countries, particulary France, where the law protects children that are unprovided for by their parents, be it the poverty and are immediatelly taken into the care of the Government.(p.7) Moll, being born in the prison left without any recources, relatives and help is exposed to very great distresses. This is a crucial stage in her life that determines in which her life would unfold. A justification is given that her life is destined to be like her mother's; that ii is her fate, living in a society that have no mercy over the orphan child. The feeling of loneliness has a strong effect on Moll's character that has a very strong presence.
Moll founds herself in a constant search for a close soul she can trust to and rely on; somebody that would form her family that she never was part of, resulting in her adopting of unstable moral values. She moves on a social scale from the very low position up to a standing of reasonably good standard. These two extremes are not only conditioned by the unjust social system; as she puts it many times that she was acting so deliberately.
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