Document Type



Bachelor of Arts in English


Deborah A. Robinson,Ph. D.


Abstract This critical essay examines how literary narration can function as a strategic tool in the presentation of a social critique. Both Daniel Defoe’s 1721 Moll Flanders and Thomas Hardy’s 1891 Tess of the D’urbervilles are novels that enlighten the reader about the suppression of female voices, particularly as that suppression is catalyzed by economic realties of the era during which each text was written. Moll is an economic individualist who very realistically presents her experience from the authority of a first person narrative perspective. As a novel, Moll Flanders provides its female protagonist with an individualized voice. Over a century later, Tess is portrayed as a victim of the social structure that disallows her voice. Thus Tess's story is presented in third person narrative perspective. The novel's resolution suggests that the disregard of a woman’s voice in society has serious social consequences. The difference in narrative perspective between the two novels represents a diverse but common urgency for women to have a platform for self-expression in order for a society to maintain a moral footing. The history of life is not necessarily progressive; it is certainly not predictable. The earth's creatures have evolved through a series of contingent and fortuitous events.’ -Stephen Jay Gould