Moll Flanders – I Married My Brother?

A large part of Moll’s story is all about her marriages to different men, and how those marriages carry out over time.  All of her marriages seemed plausible until she comes to the realization that she has in fact married her brother, and that her mother-in-law is in reality her birth mother.  This situation was not expected whatsoever, and once Moll’s revelation about the truth of the situation occurs, it is hard not to stop and try to take in everything that just took place.  Being an 18th century novel, much of what the story is focused on is the plausibility of situations that characters in their respective novels are put in.  The plausibility of happening upon your brother, from your birth mother, whom you never knew anything about, and eventually marrying him, does not seem in the least bit plausible.  When Moll reveals to him that he married his sister she “saw him turn pale, and look wild,” just as any person who might have found they married their sister would react.  It is possible Defoe included the incident to show the continuous misfortune of Moll, and her bad luck in finding a suitable husband, especially in a society where being married was such an important aspect of life.

Moll Flanders is a work of fiction, but given the time period in which it was written, it seems out of place to have an event so unlikely to happen, actually take place.

Textual puzzle-“Professions for Women” by Virginia Woolf

Woolf, in her essay titled “Professions for Women,” gives a vivid description of how she kills the idea of the Angel in the House in her life, in order to free herself from the confines of what society has decided about who a woman should be.  There is a slight problem with her “killing” of the Angel in the House; she doesn’t know what a woman should do after this event takes place.  There is nothing wrong with her breaking free from the mold of the perfect woman that society is trying to fit her in to, but she isn’t really sure what she, or women in general, should do after this takes place.  This makes her argument for the figurative killing of the Angel in the House seem odd, because she doesn’t have a definite answer for what is to come afterwards.  It could be argued that this gives women a chance to make a name for themselves and create a new identity for women, now that the Angel of the House is gone.  It would be interesting to see how many women would have been open to this idea outside of where Woolf was giving her presentation, because of how natural society made it seen for women to portray the role of the Angel in the House.

Textual Puzzles – Vanity Fair

The subtitle of Vanity Fair is “A Novel Without a Hero,” and although this is true, it could be argued that there is a heroine by the end of the novel, instead of a hero.  Becky, given all that she goes through to accomplish what she desires, could be considered the heroine of the story.  A portion of the definition of a hero is someone who displays courage and ability, and Becky no doubt displays both of these qualities.  She is able to capture Jos’ heart (and his money), and by the end of the novel she is living comfortably with the money she has accrued from her husbands.  It is true that the way she went about getting what she wanted may not have been the most magnanimous of actions, but she still was courageous while being hunted by creditors, as well as using her abilities to their utmost to accomplish her goals of acquiring money.

Thackeray may not have intended to point towards there being a heroine in the story because of the subtitle of the novel containing the masculine word “hero.”  Women in the Victorian era were not highly regarded, and since Thackeray’s novel is a mainly satirical piece of high society and all that it entails, this makes it quite likely that he intended on giving a woman a position of high importance and sway in his novel.

Vanity Fair Textual Puzzle

At the beginning of Chapter 36, Thackeray discusses how people are able to live on “nothing a year” (340).  I found this concept very interesting, given the fact that money is such a big focus throughout the novel.  Rawdon and Rebecca do not have an income, yet they are able to live comfortably.  Since this is the first mention of such a lifestyle in the novel, it would be interesting to see how common such a style of living actually was during the Victorian era.  People who have inherited large amounts of money do not have to work, but neither Rebecca nor Rawdon inherited enough money to be able to live comfortably.  Considering the fact that they entertained so much, how many people would have been aware that they did not have any money?  There is always the possibility that people would not have respected them as much, or even wanted to be at their house for a party.  Money is such a large part of society in Vanity Fair, whenever an unusual event happens concerning the characters and money, it is brought to light because it does not exactly match up with the rest of what is going on in the novel.