Superiority


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superiority Irony Moll Flanders

I  love but hate, I laugh without a smile, I am ridiculous and respected, hypocrite and honest, a nonsense with reason , a convict and a gentleman. Isn't that the world we live in ? He is using a subtle form of humour by saying things that he does not mean. This situation is odd or amusing  because it involves a contrast. Irony kills, laughs, denounces, argues but is hidden behind words to look not so politically incorrect. Daniel Defoe was one of those who wanted to denounce society's incongruities. He used his character, Moll Flanders, as an archetype of 18th century England society depicting the cruelty and the immorality of the time. In this autobiography (the novel is written in the first person) Moll's life seems to be fill of contrasts and ironic situations, but is that not interpretation?  This essay will discuss the irony in the novel Moll Flanders taking examples from the book to prove whether or not it should be considered as a ironic novel. Let's have a look at the interpretations that one may have.

 
As a preliminary, it must be noted that Moll has a basically bipartie structure, the first part containing Moll's sexual adventures, the second her life as a thief, her imprisonment, and her transportation to America. The difference here, however, is that Defoe has effected an organic rather than a merely schematic relationship between the two halves. The episode of the two brothers, an episode which is crucial to our understanding of the novel's irony. Moll is seduced by the elder brother of the family in which she is a maid, then is persuaded by him to marry Robin, the younger brother, who loves her and proposed to her. She is a bewildered, passive object in the centre of the family dispute: her position is no sooner established as the elder's brother mistress, than he suggests that she should accept Robin's offer of marriage, thus becoming his sister where formerly she was his whore later affirming: " I shall always be your sincere friend, without any inclination to nearer intimacy, when you become my sister" . He presses her hard, and the traumatic effect the affair has on Moll is symbolized in her near-fatal illness. Not surprisingly, after her marriage she succumbs to incestuous fantasies:" I was never in bed with my husband but I wished myself in the arms of his brother; ... I committed adultery and incest with him every day in my desires, which, without doubt, was as effectually criminal in the nature of the guilt as if I had actually done it" . Robin dies after five years, and there is an interval consisting of two main episodes, in one of which Moll marries a gentleman-tradesman who, faced with financial ruin, leaves her "a widow bewitched; I had an husband and no husband"  ; and in the second of which Moll helps a young lady avenge herself on a captain who regarded her as too easy a conquest.
The notion of revenge on the male, and the fact that it is Moll who is taking the initiative, and not members of the opposite sex, are indicative of a radical change of character. It is indeed ironic, then, that by making the initiative Moll should soon land herself in a situation which strongly resembles her earlier one with the two brothers: she now courts and marries her own brother.
She discovers the truth only when she is on her husband's plantation in Virginia and his mother narrates her life story. As she listen to it, Moll gradually gathers " that this was certainly no more or less than my own mother, and I had now had two children, and  was big with another by my own brother", following this with declaration which echoes the one quoted above from page 68 "I lived therefore in open avowed incest and whoredom, and all under the appearance of an honest wife; and though I was not much touched with the crime of it, yet the action had something in it shocking to nature, and made my husband, as he thought himself, even nauseous to me." At first she conceals the ... more

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How applicable is a critical e

The word nation has been in use since the 13th century and was attributed more to a race group than a political formation. As there is an obvious merger of the two there is difficulty in showing where the modern sense of the political meaning came into play. The confusion of the two has continued with a difference between nation-state and the arguments surrounding nationalists and nationalism. From the early 17th century the adjective nation wa sused in a complimentary and united sense. Opponents of nationalism would say that it has racial trends running through it. It is now quite safe to say it is in the national interest to nationalize. Establishing these meanings is important when discussing a national identity because myths arise from meanings. To arrive at a point where national identity and Orientalism mix and affect each other it is also important to establish what Orientalism was and is now.Raymond Williams describes the East as the Orient by saying that " Western and Eastern ( or oriental ) worlds are thus defined from the 16th and 17th century ". He goes on to describe teh west as " free enterprising or capitalist societies ". Orientalism has taken on many forms however since it was possible to travel and tell stories of strange lands of the orient. Edward Siad states that " for the orient idioms became frequent and these idioms took firm hold in European discourse ". Siad has first hand knowledge of the peculiar nature of these idioms as he feels that he is both Eastern and Western. These idioms do lead to myths of the orient, myths that manifest themselves in European institutions, universities and governments. Orientalism has taken on a corporate identity. We assume that with learning and the accumulation of knowledge, that scholars improve on past scholars. However the ideas of orientalism are brought about by the forces that gave the orient to western learning. Fashioned by the oriental experiences of many European scholars.
Edward Siad seeks to break down these mythologies with his own fresh eyes. He states that " exile isn't necessarily a bad thing, on the contrary exile means that you can see things with more than one pair of eyes ". This is a reference to his life growing up in Jerusalem then moving to America. Although Siad analyses a lot of writers, his examinations have strong ramifications in other areas of study. He regards a lot of Western writers as arrogant and in contempt when they write about the orient. His position is reinforced when films like alladdin are considered or the Indianna Jones set of films. Here are two examples of Western Hollywood films depicting the orient as a place of snake charmers and magic. With busy market places and monkeys entertaining the uncivilised folk. " the west, the east, the orient, the occident, the european mind the african mind, the asian spirit, the japanese mind, islam, christianity, there is some truth to these labels but most of them are ideological pictures, their contraints, they are fictional identities, the weapons of cultural war ". The west has a field of study of orientalism which the orient does not have. Books dealing with the orient between 1800 and 1950 equalled around 60,000 and there were nowhere near that amount about the west. Siad felt that all western studies of teh orient were bound by " aggressive judgements ". It is as if they are dipicting the east or the orient as having a female penetrability which was in need of the forward thinking of the west. The orient whether intentionally or not was depicted as backward and in need of highter understanding. These ideas of backwardness and savagery were fuelled by the Darwinist theories of the difference of races such as " European and Oriental African ". By 1918 the west held 85 % of the earth as colonies and commonwealths. The basic idea behind this was that europeans should rule and non europeans be ruled. Nowhere was this shown with more outward arrogance than in the British Empire Exhibition of 1903 where the savage and the oriental were paraded in front of vast ... more

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