Pamukkale Üniversitesi Sosyal Bilimler Enstitüsü Dergisi Sayı 25/1,2016, Sayfa 230-238 COMIC VISION AND COMIC ELEMENTS OF THE 18TH CENTURY MOLL FLANDERS BY



“It is hard to think about the of without thinking about the art of , for the two have always gone together, hand in hand” says Malcolm Bradbury, because the comedy is the one cannot avoid in a novel. Bradbury asserts “the birth of the long tale was, then the birth of new vision of the human comedy and from that time it seems prose stories and comedy have never been far apart” (Bradbury, 1995: 2). The time when the novel prospers is the time of the development of the comic vision. The comic novelist Iris Murdoch in an interview in 1964 states that “in a it is possible to limit one’s scope to pure or pure comedy, but the novel is almost inevitably an inclusive and breaks out of such limitations. Can one think of any great novel which is without comedy? I can’t.” According to Murdoch, the novel is the most ideal genre to adapt itself to . Moll Flanders is not a pure tragedy or pure comedy. On the one hand, it conveys a tragic and realistic view of life; on the other hand, tragic situations are recounted in a satirical way. Moll’s struggles to live, her subsequent marriages, her crimes for money are all expressed through . The aim of this study is to analyze 18th century social life, the comic scenes and especially the in the novel by describing the novel’s techniques of humor.

Keywords: Comic, Amiable , Humor, , Parody.



"Kurguyu komedi sanatını düşünmeksizin ele almak imkansızdır" çünkü her ikisi de her zaman hep elele yürümüştür" der Malcolm Bradbury çünkü eğer roman hayattan izler taşıyorsa içinde muhakkak komik öğeler bulundurur. Bu yüzdendir ki, uzun düz yazı hikayenin doğuşu, komedinin yeni bakış açısının doğuşuyla başlar ve öyle görünmektedir ki o zamandan bu yana düzyazı hikayeleri komediden hiçbir zaman uzak kalmamıştır (Bradbury, 1995: 2). Romanın ilerleme kaydettiği zaman komik vizyonun da gelişim gösterdiği zamandır. 1964 yılında verdiği bir röportajda, komedi roman yazarı Iris Murdoch şunları söyler: "bir tiyatro oyununda, izleyen kişinin kavrama gücünü salt bir trajedi ya da salt bir komedi ile sınırlandırmak mümkündür, ancak roman neredeyse kaçınılmaz bir şekilde kapsamlı bir türdür ve bu tarz kısıtlamaları aşar. Komedi içermeyen mükemmel bir roman düşünebiliyor musunuz? Ben düşünemem" Murdoch'a göre, roman kendini trajikomediye adapte edebilen en ideal türdür. Moll Flanders ne salt bir trajedi, ne de salt bir komedidir. Moll Flanders bir yandan, hayatın trajik ve gerçekçi görüşünü taşırken; diğer yandan,romanın trajik olay örgüsü hiciv sanatı kullanılarak anlatılır. Moll'ün hayatta kalma mücadelesi, art arda yaptığı evlilikler, para için işlediği suçlar roman boyunca parodi kullanılarak anlatılmıştır. Bu çalışmanın amacı, 18. yüzyıl İngiliz sosyal yaşamını, komik olay örgülerini, ve özellikle romandaki hicvi, mizah teknikleri kullanarak analiz etmektir.

Anahtar Kelimeler: Komik ögeler, Dost canlısı mizah yazarı, Mizah, Kahkaha, Parodi

∗ Arş. Gör. , Kilis 7 Aralık Üniversitesi, Fen Edebiyat Fakültesi, Batı Dilleri ve Edebiyatı Bölümü, Kilis. e-posta: [email protected] 230

G. Silindir “It is hard to think about the art of Virginia, she does. Her money gets them to fiction without thinking about the art of Virginia in comfort, makes them comedy, for the two have always gone prosperous there, and is augmented by the together, hand in hand” says Malcolm fortune from her incestuous marriage.” Bradbury, because the comedy is the mode (Backsheider, 1990:28). Especially when one cannot avoid in a novel. Bradbury Moll becomes wicked and hardened, her asserts “the birth of the long prose tale criminal adventures and matrimonial was, then the birth of new vision of the adventures become comic. For instance, a human comedy and from that time it seems scene, in which Moll steals a horse is a prose stories and comedy have never been Defoe’s use of comedy. Moll dresses as a far apart” (Bradbury, 1995: 2). The time beggar and goes out one evening. She is when the novel prospers is the time of the given a gentleman’s horse to look after it development of the comic vision. The outside an inn, but stealing has become an comic novelist Iris Murdoch in an obsession with Moll. After stealing the interview in 1964 states that “in a play it is horse, she has no idea what to do with it. possible to limit one’s scope to pure She takes the horse to another inn and tragedy or pure comedy, but the novel is sends a note saying where the horse can be almost inevitably an inclusive genre and found. This is just an adventure for her. breaks out of such limitations. Can one This obsession makes us laugh at her. think of any great novel which is without Another extract that makes us ridicule comedy? I can’t.” According to Murdoch, Moll is her poor condition while she is the novel is the most ideal genre to adapt trying to pick up goods during a fire. She itself to tragicomedy. Moll Flanders is not tells this occasion with a comic eloquence: a pure tragedy or pure comedy. On the one hand, it conveys a tragic and realistic view had at that time another of life; on the other hand, tragic situations fire happened not a great are recounted in a satirical way. Moll’s way off from the place struggles to live, her subsequent marriages, where my governess lived, her crimes for money are all expressed and I made an attempt there, through parody. The aim of this study is to as before, but as I was not analyze the satire of 18th century social soon enough before the life and especially the comic scenes by crowd of people came in describing the novel’s techniques of and couldn’t get to the humor. house I aimed at, instead of Although some argue that a prize, I got a mischief, Moll Flanders is not in the category of which had almost put a comic prose fiction, others suggest this period to my life and all my novel is nothing but a parody of the early wicked doings together; for eighteenth century’s follies and Moll’s the fire being very furious tragic life. Bradbury agrees that comedy and the people in a great and fiction have been constant fright in removing their companions; however he does not consider goods and throwing them Moll Flanders as a . out of the window; a wench “Moll Flanders is closer to comedy than from out of a window threw any other mode and in it such aren’t a featherbed just upon me; it always punitive. Jemmy, Moll’s is true, the bed being a soft, highwayman husband, had believed that it broke no bones, but as the she brought him a fortune; when they are weight united in Newgate and transported to 231

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was great and made greater bourgeois romance or anti- by the fall, it beat me down romance? A work of ? and laid me dead for a It is not without reason that while; nor did the people Ian Watt, whose influential concern themselves much to , The Rise of the deliver me from it, or to Novel, excited much of the recover me at all, but I lay subsequent debate, like one dead and neglected particularly over the a good while, till somebody question of irony. The going to remove the bed out question of the kind and of the way. (Moll Flanders, degree of irony in the novel, 173) like most of the other critical questions, depends Her colloquial language when she very largely on whether or says ‘wench’ and her style in the phrase not we think Defoe knew ‘instead of prize I got mischief’ as she what he was doing. makes fun of herself also makes us laugh Although divine providence at her. Her turning to crime due to her ultimately governs the poverty and desire for ‘Money’ constitutes world, man is left with the a life of hustle and bustle. Another comic freedom to make choices. scene involving stealing takes place at Moll Flanders is the story of Bartholomew Fair. Moll visits it and runs a woman who finally makes into a gentleman. The gentleman takes her the right choice; repents of to an aristocratic place where he drinks. all her former wickedness Then; they go to a hotel, he drinks much and is rewarded both by a more and he gets drunk and Moll steals all happier life on earth and the his valuable possessions. There Moll expectation of heaven rather quotes Solomon: “They go like an Ox to than hell, afterwards. It is the slaughter, till a Dart strikes through this understanding, this their liver” (Moll Flanders, 175) Moll ancient set of assumptions that the gentleman should have about the place of the been careful of his possessions, but he was unstable world of man in the not, so Moll considers herself right in stable macrocosm that stealing. ultimately makes Moll The extent to which Defoe uses irony Flanders, a work of irony which is “a technique of humor” (Berger, (Blewett, 1989: 18-19). 1997), is a matter of debate, but most critics like David Gooding and Paula Backscheider agree that Moll Flanders is a The novel is surrounded by ironical scenes. work of irony. One of the critics who assert How harshly Moll experiences her that Moll Flanders is an ironic work is misdeeds and how helpless she is, how she David Blewett. He asserts that: sinks into despair; she copes with all the The critical argument, even difficulties as if nothing happened. She the protracted controversy goes on with her life and overcomes her over irony, is formal. Is it a handicaps. “One consistency of Defoe’s ? A fiction novel is the consistency of irony.” (Green, version of the Puritan 2007:5) spiritual autobiography? A 232

G. Silindir It is an undeniable fact that there are lots of she is married to his younger brother ironical occasions throughout the novel, in despite being in with his older other words, from the beginning to the brother, Moll turns out to be married to her ending. Ironical situations are dealt with as half brother in the second marriage. follows: Despite learning this occasion, she lives The narrator of the novel is Moll herself with his brother as husband and wife for and this mature ‘Moll’ recounts her own eight years. She is annoyed at her story, as in the preface incestuous affair; however, she is damaged When a woman debauch’d by her second marriage because she learns from her youth, nay, even that she is married to her half-brother. being off-spring of This is another example of irony; debauchery and vice, comes Moll’s own mother gives a cry of surprise to give an account of all her and terror when she finds out her own vicious practices and even daughter: to descend to the particular Unhappy Child! What occasions and miserable chance could circumstances, by which she bring thee hither? And in the first became wicked, and of Arms of my own Son too! all the progression of Crime Dreadful Girl! Married to which she run through in thy own Brother! Three threescore Year, an Author Children and two alive, all must be hard put to it to of the same Flesh and wrap it up so clean, as not to Blood! My Son and my give room, especially for Daughter lying together as vicious Readers to turn it to Husband and Wife! All his Disadvantage (Moll Confusion and Destruction Flanders, 3). forever! Miserable family! Ironically Moll gives a warning of her What will become of us? vicious life to her readers, but at the same What is to be said? And time the narrator has the ’s mind. what is to be done? (Moll There is an ironic difference between the Flanders, 75) kind of life that Moll expects and works for. She always wants to be a Moll’s mother overstates her case and cries ‘Gentlewoman’, but she never achieves out in pain expressing tragic condition this, on the contrary, her life is ruined she unnecessarily by screaming ‘My son and becomes, as in the preface she states, a my daughter lying together as husband and whore, a thief, a bawd, a mistress, a wife’ It is such an unnecessary repetition convict even a transported felon but she that it turns into an irony. never becomes a gentlewoman as she hopes and dreams. Moll’s irony is conscious. She uses words Whenever she seeks security in her which are sarcastic and insulting. “The marriages, she is left alone, either a widow is, I hadn’t so much principle of any or a mistress, but she is never in the safe kind as to be nice in the point of ; hands of any of her husbands. It is terribly and I presently learn’d to speak favourably ironic that she thinks that her first marriage of the Romish Church” (Moll Flanders, is an incestuous relationship because the 110) Here Romish is an insulting word, brother of her husband has a love affair because Defoe was a Dissenter, so Defoe with Moll, but he does not marry her. makes his character ‘Moll’ a Puritan. Although she is bothered by the fact that 233

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Moll is reprimanding herself while the much money illegally, she is not satisfied gentleman is proposing marriage to her with what she saves. The irony at the because the gentleman says that he wants end of the novel when she encounters her to get rid of his first wife, who is a whore, son in Virginia and even learns his name. but the gentleman is not aware that Moll Moll, deprived of maternal love, mentions has the same characteristics. Here the irony a child’s need of affection and care. lies in his unawareness of Moll’s real “These are partly the reasons why affection nature: was placed by nature in the Hearts of Then it occur’d to me what Mothers to their Children. Since this care an abominable Creature am is needful to the life of children, to neglect I! and how is this innocent them is to murther them; again to give Gentleman going to be them up to be managed by those people, abused by me! How little who have none of that needful affection, is does he think, that having to neglect them in the highest degree…this Divorc’d a Whore, he is even an intentional Murther.”(Moll throwing himself into the Flanders, 135). Arms of another! That he is This is maybe because of Moll is neglected going to Marry one that has in her childhood and implicitly to her lain with two Brothers, has mother because, Moll is left at the hands of had three Children by her the convicts in Newgate prison, but it is own Brother! one that was not a surprising fact that Moll doesn’t born in Newgate, whose show affection to her children except for mother was a Whore, and is only one child which is ironical. now a transported Thief; one that has lain with I can neither express or thirteen Men, and has had a describe the Joy that Child since he saw me! Poor touched my very Soul when Gentleman! (Moll Flanders, I found, for it was easy to 141) discover that Part, that he Even if Moll is in a miserable condition, came not as a Stranger, but she feels pity for the gentleman. as a Son to a Mother, and Coincidences make novel comic, by some indeed as a Son who had unlucky chance, the gentleman is supposed never before known what a to marry a whore twice, but this is known Mother of his own was; in just by Moll. It is comic that Moll is short, we cried over one herself telling the story and says ‘poor another a considerable gentleman’. while, when at last he broke Moll’s maternal love is disputable like her out first, MY DEAR love affairs, because she cannot look after MOTHER, are you still any of her children. From her first alive! I never expected to marriage, she leaves her two children to have seen your Face (Moll live with their grandparents. Then she Flanders, 258). leaves a child with his father. She pays a Her cries, sobs and hugs don’t seem to be stranger to care for her child. These tragic sincere. Moll bears children in , departures may result from poverty, but it but she doesn’t have pity on them and she cannot be an excuse, because she doesn’t makes her son in America, Humphry, mention her children. The only thing she absurdly significant. focuses on is ‘Money’. Although she earns 234

G. Silindir whether or not Moll Flanders is a work of According to Asa Berger, ‘affectation and irony is closely tied to the problem of its are techniques of humor’ episodic richness and is, ultimately, a (Berger, 1997), therefore Moll’s behavior debate over form. If we see the work as is considered as affectation and causes the ironic we recognize that the discrepancy readers to laugh at her. between the surface of the novel, the Throughout the novel, another exaggerated episodic variety of Moll’s life, and the subject is the concept of ‘gentleman’. At underlying meaning, based upon the earlier times, to be a gentleman was a ultimate justice of divine providence, is virtue, but in the eighteenth century, it is intentional.” (Blewett, 1989: 21) Even satirized because gentlemen do not behave though the examples of irony are stated as the name deserves. The gentleman above, it is still a debate over form and it is should not drink too much to be disgraced, thought that making this work ironic is but in this novel he gets drunk and robbed. either intentional or spontaneous. Monica The gentleman marries a lady from the top Green comments on that: “the problem of the social ladder, but in Defoe’s novel, arises whenever trying to decipher between he marries a whore. There is a satire ironic parts intended by Defoe and the against ‘gentleman’, which is reality in the ironic parts that come along naturally in eighteenth century. writing a novel.” (Green, 2007: 5) “I find you don’t know Sir why he is as Whether this irony is made intentionally or civil a gentleman, there is not a finer man, made naturally, it is obvious that the use of nor a soberer grave modester person in the irony results in a kind of humor and it whole city…. I can assure you Sir he is no makes people laugh because the reader hypocrite, he is really an honest sober doesn’t think that use of irony is gentleman.” (Moll Flanders, 178) intentional or non-intentional. The The gentleman is believed to be honest, character and the narrator are the same graceful and well mannered, but Defoe person but even they are different because, breaks the and he reveals that the the narrator is the old penitent and the gentlemen could cheat on his wife and character is the young sinner. It causes have an affair with Moll and he is robbed. inconsistency because the reader cannot These wicked things can befall a find out the character’s mind or the gentleman because the society is full of narrator’s, so this inconsistency is ironic. follies at that time. “Related to this problem is the question of One last ironical scene mentioned is that the picaresque nature of Moll Flanders, the old sinful Moll finds herself in that is, whether or not it is a genuine Newgate prison in which she came into the example of picaresque. In a sense it is world. Moll describes it as “ the place had really much the same question, viewed so long expected me, and which with so from a different angle. The debate over the much Art and Success I had so long picaresque nature of Moll Flanders is avoided” (Moll Flanders, 212). On this another attempt to account for the episodic occasion “Earlier she had been unable to form of the book.” (Blewett, 1989:21) visit her friends there, the place affected Some critics support the idea that Moll her so deeply. To her, prison is both hellish Flanders is a picaresque . One of and a gateway to hell. Newgate functions the reasons that this novel conveys as Moll’s destiny, as place of punishment, picaresque characteristic is that “mode of and as a turning point.”(Backscheider, fiction is satirical and verbally ironical.” 1990: 27) She makes us laugh in that she (Blewett, 1989: 21) The use of satire and says that this place expected me so long. irony make substantial contribution to the According to Blewett “The question as to humor of the novel. 235

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In a picaresque narrative, there are are comic. For Fielding theory and fiction a series of adventures and “a rogue are comic; for Kierkegaard, theory, fiction (dishonest, immoral person) who survives and reality. (Simon, 1985: 79) by her .”(Blewett, 1989:22) In this condition, Moll is a rogue who often Moll has a pseudonym and her real overcomes difficulties and satirizes the name is just known by the records. She society around her; for example, Moll says: “My true name is so well known in warns the parents of the little girl from the records or registers at Newgate and in whom she steals a necklace. Moll says that the old Bailey. There are some other things parents should not leave their little of such consequence still depending there, daughter alone in the street with a valuable relating to my particular conduct that is not jewel. Theft was a real problem in the to be expected I should set my name or the eighteenth century, and Defoe shows the account of my family to this work; perhaps misdeeds of the eighteenth century. By after my , it may be better known.” drawing the character ‘Moll’ as a thief, a (Moll Flanders, 7) As a fiction, it is more whore, a convict, he satirizes the applicable for the vision of Kierkegaard. misbehaving, miserable society. Defoe Reality is a key word for Defoe’s . uses humor to show people’s faults and As Kierkegaard says, reality in Moll weaknesses. “Moll Flanders clearly Flanders makes it comic. The woman who possesses many of the features of the struggles for life, falls on evil days picaresque narrative, including the becomes an object of ridicule, simply lowborn , a protean ability at because of the course of events and the disguise a sense of the random uncertainty narrator’s locution. of life exemplified in a series of adventures, sexual freedom, the opting for Another famous of comedy, survival over personal integrity and social says on his Laughter that: and spatial mobility.” (Blewett, 1989: 22) Repetition –our present For example, Moll, at first called Mrs. problem deals with a Betty, turns into Moll and then Moll situation, that is, a Flanders after then; she turns into Moll combination of Cut-Purse. She doesn’t use her name for a circumstances, which recurs long time in order to disguise her identity. several times in its original Richard Keller Simon delivers an form and thus contrasts with opinion on irony related to Kierkegaard. It the changing stream of life. is more precise to say that rather than Everyday experience Fielding, Kierkegaard’s assertion is more supplies us with the type of close to what Defoe as a novelist defends. the comic, though only in a In the mid-eighteenth century Fielding rudimentary state. Thus you wrote a labyrinthine study of the comic meet a friend in the street that is interplay between the consciousness whom you haven’t seen for of the narrators and their abilities to an age, there is nothing construct devious and intricate , comic in the situation. If, both of which are comic. In the mid- however, you meet him nineteenth century Kierkegaard wrote a again the same day and then labyrinthine study of the comic that is a third and a fourth time, interplay between the consciousness of the you may laugh at the pseudonyms, their abilities to construct coincidence. devious and intricate fiction. All of these 236

G. Silindir

Such are the repetitions It cannot be fairly accurate to name produced on the stage. They Moll Flanders as an amiable humorist are more laughable in because towards the end of the novel, Moll proportion as the scene gradually becomes an evil character. “The repeated is more complex alliance of the comic and tender emotions and more naturally in the eighteenth century, expressed most introduced. (Bergson, 1956: strikingly in amiable humor, drew 119) additional inspiration from the history of the English stage” (Tave, 1960: 181) Moll In Moll Flanders, Moll marries a man is such a character that as a young girl, she then, her husband dies. Secondly she is pure and dreaming. Normally we marries a man then, she is divorced. can say that we sympathize with Moll and Thirdly she marries another man, and then feel sorry for her when she is deceived by her husband leaves the country. These her first lover and disappointed. When she events happen five times. Her tragic, is young, we can call her amiable severe subsequent events don’t make Moll humorist, but when she commits misdeeds engage in demagogy, on the contrary, they day by day and becomes wicked, it is make people laugh at the incidents unlikely to sympathize with her. however harsh they are. Moll becomes a The amiable machine who is constantly suffering, but it obviously transcended the is not seen as a tragedy. Neither Moll categories that made the makes us feel melancholic nor the comic inferior. They were subsequent course of events. created not by the unsympathetic, abstractive The second method identified by Bergson and reductive method of is the inversion. He mentions that if the and ridicule, typified for certain characters are inverted from the Hazzlit in the use of certain roles, comic scene is obtained. nicknames, but by a full, “The scene of the “robber robbed” sympathetic, imaginative belongs to this class. The of the villain appreciation of the web of who is the victim of his own villainy, or mingled yarn; they were the cheat cheated forms the stock-in-trade concrete, individual of a good many plays.” (Bergson, 1956: existences, vivid and 122) picturesque, capable of Bergson calls this method as’ evoking mixed emotions. topsyturvydom.’ In Moll Flanders, Moll is (Tave, 1960: 221). introduced as a well off gentlewoman to It is not possible to feel sorry when Moll Lancashire husband. At the same time commits crime, moreover she is Lancashire husband, Jemy is introduced to unsympathetic. Though we see a Moll as a wealthy man who has the estate destruction of life in Moll Flanders, she is in Ireland, but it turns out that Jemy does not regretful, so it becomes not possible for not have estate at all even Moll is in good us to cry for her. At the end of the novel; financial position. The deceiver is on the other hand, she repents and gains deceived. sympathy.


Comic Vision And Comic Elements Of The 18th Century Novel Moll Flanders By Daniel Defoe

The heroine of the novel, Moll is with her own son and lives with Jemy on repentant at the end of the novel. Although the inheritance from her mother. Like all she conquers lots of obstacles, her hardship comic works of art, Moll Flanders has a ends in triumph and happiness. When Moll happy ending, which indicates one of the is transported to Virginia, she is reunited romance elements.


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