When reading literature I always try to consider what it is the author is trying to persuade me to believe. All writing, no matter how it is presented, uses some form of rhetoric. Whether it is intentional or not, words are always used to convince someone of something. Daniel Defoe’s, Moll Flanders, is no exception. In this tale, we as readers are asked to consider whether Moll Flanders’ redemption is guanine. Moll herself guides us through the many twists and turns of her life all the while providing insight into why she made the choices she did. The supposed editor at the beginning of the story warns us as readers to be wary of Moll’s sincerity. All of this is amounts to the use of rhetorical devices in order to persuade readers to come to the predetermined conclusion condoned by the author himself. Defoe masterfully composes Moll’s story and provides his readers with a solution for the woes of his time. In my paper, I discuss how Defoe uses Moll’s story to show the failing so the societal institutions of marriage, charity and the punishment of criminals during his time intended to encourage and develop virtue within society. I would argue that instead of irony, Defoe uses the art of rhetoric to support his claims. Like other rhetoricians, he is searching for the truth when it comes to salvation. By looking at Moll in this manner, we can clearly see the impact of these institutions on her redemption and ultimately on society’s ability to be redeemed if all remains unchanged.
Barnett, Melissa and McDaniel, Jamie, "Daughter of Newgate: Defoe’s Views of Charity, Marriage and Punishment of Criminals" (2015). Paper Presentations. 15.