The early eighteenth century gave rise to many literary triumphs. Classical tales were no longer the focal center of story-telling; according to Ian Watt, author of “From The Rise of the Novel: Studies in Defoe, Richardson, and Fielding,” writers started basing their stories on realistic perspectives, encompassing all experiences life had to offer (364). Individual stories and experiences became the focal point of literature with the dawn of the novel. This literary revolution opened up the creative floodgates, allowing creations such as Moll Flanders to be written. Moll Flanders is an achievement for many reasons, but one specific reason is that the reader can view life through Moll’s eyes, allowing the audience to experience Moll’s experiences alongside her. Rather than relying on coincidence to spur action, the novel uses a character’s past to inspire motivation and action. This gave audiences the chance to sympathize with Moll throughout the novel. Ian Watt, author of “Defoe as a Novelist: Moll Flanders,” accords this revolution largely to the social rise of individualism in the early eighteenth century (95). Defoe saw this social rise of the individual and applied it to the literary sphere: Defoe portrays Moll not only as an individual, but as a narrative sociopath. Moll shirks identity by relying only on herself to survive and forms no real relationships with any other characters.
By focusing only on this essay is not in any way attempting to clinically diagnose Moll Flanders. Rather, it is making an observation through a narrative, literary lens.
Hinton, Anna and McDaniel, Jamie, "Molly Flanders: A Narrative Sociopath" (2015). Paper Presentations. Paper 11.