Synopses & Reviews
Includes bibliographical references (p. -338).
About the Author
Virginia Woolf (1882-1941) was a novelist, critic, and essayist whose works include such classics as A Room of Ones Own, Mrs. Dalloway, To the Lighthouse, and The Voyage Out (the latter available from the Modern Library in both cloth and paper).
Reading Group Guide
1.Why did Defoe choose a woman to be his main character? Do you think she is a believable character? Is Defoe commenting on the female gender in this novel, or humankind in general?
2.Defoe seemingly contradicts himself when speaking of the Church. How is the Church represented in this novel? Consider Molls early life as a warden of the Church through to her redemption.
3.Study the many men that pass through Molls life. Are any of them good men? Do any of them respect Moll more than others? Do their social positions and wealth effect the way they view Moll and women in general?
4.Modern day critics have debated over Defoes exact intent. Some argue Moll Flanders is a picturesque novel, others say a fictionalized Puritan spiritual work, still others claim it is a bourgeois romance. Some critics liken this novel to a work of irony much like Jonathan Swifts Gullivers Travels. Which analysis makes the most sense?
5.Some critics argue that Molls wit and independence prove Defoes respect for women while other critics argue Molls sinfulness and self-acknowledged depravity show Defoes anti-womens rights view. Which do you agree with?
6.Consider the men Moll steals from, both husbands and victims. Is this a comment on class or gender?
7.After reading of Molls spiritual reawakening, do you feel Defoe is a supporter or criticizer of religion? Is he a supporter of any divine providence?
8.Compare and contrast Molls marriages before her life and crime and after. What are Defoes views on marriage?
9.If you were to consider this a work of irony, what exactly is Defoe criticizing? Is his irony even consistent throughout the novel?