By Virginia Ogden Birdsall
This research contends that the most characters in Defoe's six significant fictions signify a extra profound nervousness and cynicism in regards to the human situation than has been quite often well-known. From Robinson Crusoe to Roxana -- each one is engaged in a lonely and futile look for identification and value, and every pursues that target with ruthless singlemindedness.
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Extra resources for Defoe’s Perpetual Seekers: A Study of the Major Fiction
I 73, 174) ,. ,UCh as ma~e them known; and that without help we must Pensh; and this help·reqmres n~t only an assisting Hand, whether of the 'I . Supposedly, Moll's concern hen! is wi~h the fate of her own child. " (p. 174). In fact, if all the men in. Moll's life are essentially father-figures, most of the women are just as clearly mother-figures. The first-her "good old Nurse, Mother, I ought rather to call her" (p. 16), who "bred up the Children" in her school "with a great deal of Art, as well as with a great deal of Care" (p.
130). Hence, in her own mind, she becomes a helpless prey. "If this Woman had known my real Circumstances," she says of her fellow lodger in London, "she would never have laid so many Snares and taken so many weary steps to catch a poor desolate Creature that was good for little when it was caught ... " (p. 130). Very seldom, however, does Moll find he;rself at so low a point as this. Obs'essed with accumulating "stock," she devotes all her ingenuity to the piling-up process. And here we have collle back, in a roundabout way, to Moll's primitive, eat-or~be-eaten outlook on life.
Ibne, of course), she reports that "He took it, kiss'd it, told me the Watch should be a Debt upon him, that he would be paying, as long as I liv'd" (p. 338). she truly wants, it seems clear almost from the outset, is total self-sufficiency. Hence her outspoken resistance as a·child to "going into service" represents an instinctive longing , for independence. While Robinson Crusoe on his island has no choice but to live by his "Finger Ends" (p. 11), ~~()H_actiye::ly ,makes that choice-:--the , choice "to get my Bread by my own Work" (p.