Psychological Salvation and Power Struggle in Daniel Defoe’s Roxana
This underlying project aims to plumb Roxana’s predicament and power struggle in the oppressive circumstance in the stance of a female capitalist in the early eighteenth-century patriarchal society. Her man-woman identity also unveils her inner desire to shrink from her former victimized passive role of the oppressed into a power-hunger hardened oppressor and emblemizes her inner desire to penetrate into the wider commercial world and monopolize the world’s wealth and power in the role of female capitalist.
Roxana’s shame-ridden whore identity traps Roxana into the state of a prisoner. She is always in fear. Roxana’s material accumulation cannot save her damaged ego. The success under Roxana’s belt is limited to material success, which cannot save her out of her psychological salvation. And I am interested in exploring the interrelationship between economic Independence and power in a monetary world.
The title of a fortunate mistress is auspiciously a huge satire that she can never shake off her unnamable mental disorder and she is the mercy of neurotic fear of possible exposure. Roxana cannot secure mental peace because she is at enslaved by the phobia of shame in mind.
Chapter one elaborates on women ’s anxiety of economic independence in patriarchy society. The equal footing between men and women was eradicated by disfranchising women’s inborn rights of autonomy. I delve into the texts of Roxana to fathom how poor women secure self-sufficiency and navigate their economic predicament and economic autonomy and sovereignty in and out the marriage system.
In chapter two, I manifest how Roxana executes her desire of becoming a man-woman and free agent in the patriarchy society. She holds anguished spirit against economic constraint and sexual constraint women endure in Eighteenth-Century England.
In patriarchy society, hegemony was limited to men. I propose that Roxana’s resolution of securing a man-woman identity exhibits her inner desire to counter against social discrimination imposed on women. Roxana’s desire of becoming a man-woman witness her drastic anger to shake off women’s passive and victimized role in patriarchy society. She breaches social normality and models men in sexuality with rebellious determination to reclaim her authority in the oppressive society.
In chapter three, I unmask the interplay between Roxana’s anxiety of her former criminal whore identity and the violence of Abjection.
At the core, I chiefly fathom Kristeva’s essay “On the Melancholy Imaginary” and “The Power of Horror” (1982), coupled with Freud‘s psychological theory in A General Introduction to Psychoanalysis (1920) and accompanied with Elizabeth Groze’s essay “Sexuality and the Symbolic Order in Jacques Lacan” to decipher Roxana’s traumatic life in the context of identity crisis.
Keywords: exploitation, patriarchy, hierarchy, Social oppression, social injustice, puritan capitalist, individualist, feminist, free agent, non-conformist, jouissance, violence of abjection, poverty crime.
The prostitute narrative of Daniel Defoe’s Roxana is quintessentially a criminal biography which works well to plumb Roxana’s predicament, rebellion and power struggle in the oppressive circumstance in early eighteenth-century England.1 Roxana’s desire for becoming a man-woman mirrors her drastic anger to rebel against economic and sexual constraints imposed upon women at the time. She contrives to penetrate into the wider commercial world to monopolize the world’s wealth and power in the stance of a female capitalist.2 Roxana resolves to get rid of women’s cast of being of an economy parasite of contemporary society and aims at the request of economic independence with attempt to secure individual autonomy, literally the titled liberty. Roxana internalizes diverse identities, including capitalist, individualist, and feminist, all of which adhere to the principle of non-conformist by means of exemplifying rejection of social
1 Many critics fail to see Defoe’s subtle and shrewd connotations in Roxana and disdain Roxana as the most conventional work of Defoe. David Blewett argues Roxana remains “passive in the face of disaster,” which are in stark contrast to my viewpoint.
2 Cultural and economic dominance were monopolized by middle-and upper-classmen. In patriarchy society, women are confined to the domestic private sphere, which attributes to women’s submissive fate. In eighteenth-century patriarchy society, women were not an autonomous individual. Women were sold or exchanged to prevent warfare or family debt. Daughters were historically objectified and capitalized in marriage affairs and measured as an apparatus to better the economic condition of the family. As aptly addressed by Laura Rosenthal in Infamous Commerce: Prostitution in Eighteenth-Century British Literature and Culture, a daughter was traditionally treated as commercialized object in the role of” token of exchange” in the affairs of capital accumulation (141). Social oppression upon Individual can be detected through Bertrand Russell’s Authority
and the individual (1949). Feminism defends women’s equal political, economic, and social rights by
demanding equal opportunities and rebel against social discrimination against women in all rounds. Feminism works can be accessed through Judith Butler’s “Feminism in Any Other Name” (1992); Ellen Messer-Davidow’s Disciplining Feminism: From Social Activism to Academic Discourse (2002); Margrit Shildrick and Janet
Price’s Feminist Theory and the Body: A Reader (1999). In Bell Hook’s Feminism is for Everybody: Passionate Politics (2000), the author argues that feminism also has something to do with men’s liberation by asserting men’s possible victim role in gender relationship. Account of women’s property ownership can be access through Christine Churches’s essay “Women and Property in early Modern England: a case-study” (1998).
bondage and endorsement of individual’s autonomy in the roles of “ Man-Woman,” “free Agent” and “Protestant whore” respectively (R 104-87).3 Following this line of thought, I propose Defoe is the pioneer of feminist who unifies the spirit of capitalist, individualist and feminist into an integrated notion of “free agent” in Roxana’s characterization (187). Hence,
I propose Roxana can be credited as the founding text for the study of proto-feminism and Defoe the founding father of feminism. Economic independence was men’s privilege and women were doomed to be confined to domestic sphere. Nevertheless, Roxana demands and secures economic independence in the role of “woman of business” and “she-merchant“ in
the wider commercial world in the ling of whoring trade (169). Essentially, Roxana’s
manifesto of “being a free woman, and an independent” resonates with the spirit of
individualist, which spotlights the significance of getting rid of interdependence of others and
social bondage (187).4 In Roxana, Defoe indeed constructs and deconstructs patriarchy by
underling social injustice of marriage law in recognition of women’s inborn rights of
possessing property.5 Women’s inborn autonomy and self-will were nullified in matrimonial
system. Roxana claims that autonomy is women’s inborn rights, which is disfranchised by
men in law. In this respect, Roxana’s desire of being a free agent is in tune with her objection
3 The textual evidence of Roxana would be abbreviated into R in the following papers. For instance, Roxana asserts “it was my Business to be what I was, and conceal what I had been” (348). Roxana asserts” I cannot consent to marry…would hear of no matrimony by any means” (152). In Laura Leigh Linker’s” The Female Libertine From Dryden to Defoe” (2008), Linker issue a thought-provoking point that “Amy illustrates the darker aspects of Roxana’s libertinism, indicated most frequently in Susan’s murder” (246).
4 For instance, Roxana asserts “it was my Business to be what I was, and conceal what I had been” (348).
Roxana asserts” I cannot consent to marry…would hear of no matrimony by any means” (152).
5 The equal footing between men and women was eradicated by disfranchising women’s inborn rights of owing property.
Chien 3 to marriage proposal.6 Defoe further brings women’s sexual desire into light in early phase of eighteenth century society.7 Roxana’s manifesto of being a Protestant whore reflects her
inner desire to shake off sexual constraints of double standard of sexual morality of contemporary society.
I would like to venture the thought that Puritans incarnates the archetype of capitalist. In Lori Lee Wilson’s The Salem Witch Trials (1997), it denotes the tenets of Puritanism in arguing “Puritan thought working hard to gain wealth-even at the expense of their neighbors-was a good thing. To the Puritans, economic success represent blessing of God”
(20).8 As noted, Protestant ethic quintessentially champions hard work, asceticism and “service of God” (296).9 Given this consideration, Puritans are encouraged to wield the principle of self-interest, hard-working and espousal of limitless mercenary success. At the core, the ethos of capitalism and Puritan ethic both encourage unlimited material and
6 The equal footing between men and women was eradicated by disfranchising women’s inborn rights of owing
property by law especially marriage law.
7 For instance, Roxana sketches domestic servant Amy’s first sexual experience in terms that “he made the Girl so merry…I had always found her a very modest Wench” but” the Mirth of that Night…ruined the Girl’s Modesty forever” (78). In truth, Defoe “started a new thing” which is” contrary to the general practice “in eighteenth-century conventional society (R 163).
8 In Lori Lee Wilson’s The Salem Witch Trials (1997), it denotes puritan was generally assumed to “refer to those thought to be intolerant, self-righteous bigots” (20). Wilson asserts that Puritans “believed they were God’s elect, his chosen people, who would dwell with him in heaven. Those who were not part of the elect
would be cast into hell…Although the Puritans believed they were God’s elect, they also believed they could lost God’s favor if they fail to lead pure and upright lives” so Puritans are disposed to “ purify themselves and their communities” (21). It denotes the tenets of Puritanism in arguing “Dispute arose because “to the non-Puritans, the plainly clothed but wealthy Puritan seemed to be a hypocrite” (Wilson 20). Many Puritans sought religious freedom in the New World in the stance of “colonist” (Wilson 20). The puritans “built churches …their churches, however, were not only places of worship. They were also the seat of Puritan colonial government…The Puritans
organized their government in the New World according to the Bile and on the basis of their English experience” (Wilson 21). But “Puritans found strength in their faith, but at times that faith was shaken” (Wilson 21). This argument is supported by Rhode Island College’s publication Literature and Psychology (1972), which sounds
out the conflicting ground of creed of Puritan and mercantile principles (175).
9 Capitalism is an economic system which proposes private property and self-ownership. It altogether speak for individual’s property rights and promotes class emancipation and unintentionally.
capital accumulation.10 In this approach, human beings’ competitive nature and self-interest disposition all fit into the archetype of Puritan ethic and spirit of capitalist. Partisans of capitalist system often promote free private enterprise.11As put by Weber, Puritan’s religious faith encouraged the growth of western capitalism (296).12 In Defoe and Economics (1987), Bram Dijkstra identifies that Defoe issues crucial insight into the “predatory mentality “of self-centered economic individualist in his works (101). Given this consideration, Darwin’s conception of the “survival of the fittest” (1869) resonates with the psyche of predatory capitalist. Undeniably, Darwin’s conception of the survival of the fittest has its critical dominant influence under capitalism. Fundamentally, survival of the fittest reasons the justification of exploitation of the weaker. I perceive Darwin’s idea of survival of the fittest fit to be placed into discussion of the mentality of Roxana.13 Abandoned by her husband and Troubled with appalling anxiety of approaching starvation, Roxana claims” I
10 As put in The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, “unlimited greed for gain is not in the least identical with capitalism…. But capitalism is identical with the pursuit of profit….in a wholly capitalistic order of society, an individual capitalistic enterprise which did not take advantage of its opportunities for profit-making would be doomed to extinction” and a capitalistic manner is defined by an” expectation of profit by the utilization of opportunities for exchange” (17). The rise of the middle class are chiefly adherents of puritan capitalist.
11 Further knowledge can be detected in Raymond Williams’s “Capitalism” (1983).
12 Weber voices that Puritan ethic encourage hard-working “even in the absence of need” as a “calling to which Providence has summoned the elect” (9, 296). As noted, Puritans strive to overcome anxieties over salvation and damnation…the Puritans worked hard and performed good deeds, believing these acts were outward signs of faith and probable salvation (Weber 296). Additionally, as put in The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism,“ where capitalistic acquisition is rationally pursued” capitalist’s action is adjusted to a “systematic utilization of goods or personal services as a means of acquisition…i.e. the estimated value of the material means of production used for acquisition in exchange” (18).
13 Under patriarchal economy of eighteenth century England, poor women and children were the most oppressed group of patriarchal society of contemporary society. Child－abandonment is another pressing issue. Since children can barely survive on their own, child-abandonment and child-minder is theoretically the same thing. In The Nature and the Logic of Capitalism (1985), Robert Heilbroner asserts that “the nature of capitalism “takes readers “on a far-ranging exploration to the unconscious levels of the human psyche and the roots of domination and submission…to the organization of primitive society and the origins of wealth…the powerful force of the accumulation of wealth” (225).
Chien 5 saw nothing but Misery…even to have my Children starve before my Face” (45).14 Roxana uproots family ties, including motherly bond to her kids for her self-interest.15 She ultimately” shuts up” her “Bowles of Compassion” against her “own Flesh” (R 56). She hardens against
her own blood and becomes the convict of child-murder for the sake of her own prosperity
The spirit of capitalist upholds individual’s autonomy of self-ownership. Likewise, individualism encourages the whole package of self-ownership, self-governing and self-determination. For instance, Roxana voices her desire of being her own master in keeping “[her] all Estate in [her] Own hands” (187). In this respect, Roxana determines to be her own saver and master. Roxana asserts “if nobody was trusted, nobody would be deceived, and the staff in their own hands was the best security” (163). In a sense, self-reliance is her life principle. Roxana exhibits “continual obstinate against
Matrimony,” which is grounded in her resolution to run her earned capital on her own (R 199).16 Roxana’s “heart was bent upon an Independency of Fortune,” which can be
14 Roxana asserts that starvation is the more dreadful thing on earth. Roxana concludes that “my Repentance seem’d to be only the Consequence of my Misery, as my Misery was of my Crime” (379). I identify the misery she refers to is her traumatic life experience, ranged from husband’s abandonment, pressure of approaching starvation and whore identity.
15 Poor women and children were born into the world incapable on the ground that without men’s economic support they must perish. Children were theoretically more socially vulnerable than poor women. In this respect, child-abandonment and child-minder is technologically the same thing.
16 In Rosemary Sweet and Penelope Lane’s cooperated book Women and Urban Life in Eighteenth-Century England: On the Town (2003), it provides a wealth of specific historical-stoical evidence that “there was a higher proportion of single, older women who had, one may suppose, exercised their independence in preferring a life of service to a married life (5). A married women’s economic independence is none by marriage law. Evidently, unmarried women such as single women and widows were endowed with more authority to enrich themselves in case of business-doing than a married wife. In Peter Earle’s The Making of the English Middle Class: Business, Society, and Family Life in London, 1660-1730 (1989), Earl show proofs that married women had no power to involve in their husband’s business, but “widow and spinsters” are endowed with more
viewed as her insightful critique of male patriarchal dominance (211). Roxana’s dreamed autonomy and economic independence can only keep intact outside matrimonial system.17 Because a wife was required to relinquish her fortune to her husband by the marriage law. Roxana perceives that submitting her fortune equalizes to forsaking her dreamed liberty (185). However, Roxana “propose[s] a vicious Liberty, which is neither honorable nor religious” but a “Liberty at the Expense of Modesty” (R 197). Taken together, Roxana emblemizes the adherent of individualism in all rounds.18 Fundamentally, the spirit of individualism is
also in tune with feminist’s creed of self -governing. The definition of the nature of autonomy is necessary to approach the issue. Defoe defines the nature of autonomy in terms of “free Agent” (187). In this respect, autonomy suggests a competence to master circumstances. In my viewpoint, economic independence is the prerequisite for eighteenth-century women to wield self-determination and self-governing under patriarchal economy. In James H. Maddox’s “On Defoe’s Roxana” (1984), Maddox defines the nature of autonomy by
agency and freedom to “ran their own business (166-67). Significantly, a married woman’s identity is a lack in
consideration of their want of autonomy in marriage.
17 A married woman’s autonomy was permanently suspended by marriage law. Roxana perceives marriage signals women’s utmost subjection and inferiority. She argues that a mistress has privilege upon the case of mobility but a wife. Roxana articulates that” the Wife bears a thousand Insults, and is forced to sit still and bear it” (R 170-71). Perceiving autonomy roots in property- possessing, Roxana argues that a mistress amasses fortune by transferring herself to several lovers and “what she has, is her own” (170). In stark contrast, a wife is required to submit her property to her husband. Conversely, a Mistress is endowed with privilege to transfer herself in the free market. A wife’s mobility is supposedly eternally disfranchised because divorce was “tedious and expensive” in contemporary society (Moll Flanders 136).
18Learned from life experience, Roxana’s husbands abandoned her for sake of self-survival and thus she realized the requirement of self-survival is dependent upon money rather than husband and money is more trustworthy than men. Roxana asserts that “for very often when the trouble was taken off their hands, so was their money too; and that I thought it was far safer for the sex not to be afraid of the trouble, but to be really afraid of their money (163). Though Roxana claims she can “unbosom [herself] “to poor Amy” she hides the incestuous relation of the Dutch Merchant” eleven Years before their marriage “from her “faithful Maid” Amy let alone the Quaker (289, 310). Though Roxana claims the Quaker is her “Faithful agent” and “Trusted agent,” she dare not leak out her true identity to her (349-51).
accentuating autonomy as “an external emblem of self-mastery” and “mastery of the Other”
(669).19 For instance, Roxana is motivated to “steer” and “hold the Helm” by means of clinching sovereignty in the man-woman love relationship (190).20
Significantly, Roxana is not merely a capitalist but a puritan capitalist though she is traitor. The ethos of Puritanism and sprit of capitalist form a contesting ground in some aspects.21 Puritan ethic champions values such as compassion, conscience and morality and individual capitalist prioritizes self-interest, self-sufficiency and self-reliance. The incompatibly between Puritan’s concepts of commerce and morality generally evoke great concern. Roxana emblematizes the mindset of a stereotypical capitalist’s in the role of a “Woman of Business” and “She-Merchant“ (R 169).22 Roxana asserts her “vast acquired stock” is her” product of many years fortune industry,” which is indisputably a criminal industry (304). Roxana contends that she secures “a good Estate” after “many Years Fatigues
19 Roxana asserts “if I could but see him, I could yet Master him” after eleven-years of separation with the Dutch merchant (257). For instance, Roxana accentuates that it is “in my power “to make him satisficed (143). Roxana’s obsession with sovereignty is witnessed. Roxana’s self-awareness comes into being that she grows to be a self-governing figure in consideration of her execution of self-determination.
20 Roxana contrives to earn hegemony and liberty from the hands of men by pursuing self-sufficiency by means of profitable whoring trade. Roxana declares that her “best Husband in the world” does “everything upon the Foundation of obliging [her]” (347).
21 Nevertheless, Puritan’s doctrine does arouse contradiction that they perceive human depravity roots in the human nature of self-interest and they passed laws against intoxication. In Puritan ethic, worldly material success synchronizes with moral goodness Dispute arose because “to the non-Puritans, the plainly clothed but wealthy Puritan seemed to be a hypocrite” (20). In Lori Lee Wilson’s The Salem Witch Trials (1997), it denotes puritan was generally assumed to “refer to those thought to be intolerant, self-righteous bigots” (20). It is necessary to define the puritan creed in a comprehensive fashion. In Marx Weber and Talcott Parsons’ cooperated book The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (2003), it unveils the Protestant ethic in a more comprehensive fashion.
22 I recognize Roxana markets herself as a commodity in the role of a seller. In sight of package strategy, Roxana contrives to sell herself at a higher price by means of dressing with “all the possible Advantage “so as to bargain a better value among the buyers in the competitive market (93, 275). Roxana “reserved the interest of 14000l .” that she doubled her substance over the years (R 223-24). In the tale, her first-husband and brother ran into bankruptcy respectively.
Chien 8 and Hurry in Business” and she is “rich enough to be a Princess” (282-88). Roxana’s parents are fervent Puritans that Roxana was “brought to England by [her] parents, who fled for the Religion about the Year 1683, when the Protestant were Banished from France” (37).23
Owing to the religious education she received, Roxana titles herself as a “double offender” in asserting” for I was resolved to commit the Crime, knowing and owing it to be a Crime” and she confesses that she “sinned with open Eyes, and thereby had a double Guilt” (75).24 After Decades of whoring, her mind is revolutionized that she bows to the spirit of capitalist and ostracizes her former religion belief. Roxana “habituated [herself] to a Life of Vice” and she declares that whoring itself “appeared to be no Vice “to her and she harbors nothing “akin to “Religion or Conscience” nor “any-thing of Repentance” (229-43). Given this consideration, she is not a victim of conscience.25 Instead, I identify Roxana a prisoner of public eye. Her inner anxiety roots in fear of exposure of her criminal identity and disgraceful past, all of
23 In Religion and The Rise of Capitalism (1998), R. H. Tawney articulates the compelling facts that “the growth, triumph and transformation of the Puritan spirit were the most fundamental movement of the seventeenth century. Puritanism…was the true English Reformation, and it is from its struggle against the old order that an England which is unmistakably modern emerges. But, immense as were its accomplishments in that inner world, of which politics are but the squalid scaffolding, were mightier still… the revolution which Puritanism wrought in Church and state was less than that which it worked in men’s souls” (198). Tawney articulates that “In every human soul there is a socialist and an individualist, an authoritarian and a fanatic for liberty, as in each there is a Catholic and a Protestant…There was in Puritanism an element which was conservative and traditionalist, and an element which was revolutionary; a collectivism which grasped at an iron discipline, and an individualism which spurned the savorless mess of human ordinances” (212). The Puritans were a branch of religious groups who were English Protestants and were characterized for their social impression of active nonconformist and extremist. The Puritans became a dominant political force in the 1640s in England after the First English Civil War (1642–46). After the English Restoration of 1660 and the 1662 Uniformity Act, virtually all Puritan clergy left the Church of England. Puritans’ doctrine demands purity and piety a higher standard than other religious groups, which is tied up to religious reformation.
24 Roxanna is keenly aware that prostitution is essentially” unlawful, scandalous, and abominable” (73). Roxana confessed that she “dreamed continually of the most frightful and terrible things imaginable: Nothing but Apparitions of Devils and Monsters; falling into Gulphs… and the like; so that in the Morning …I was Hagridden with Fights…and not fit for conversing my Family or any-one else” (310).
25 The awareness of public condemnation, social pressure of public eye troubled her.
Chien 9 which are the main channel of her uneasiness. Roxana’s affliction with possible exposure and inescapable social stigma traps her eternally.
The psychological pattern of Roxana’s abjection is generally overlooked by the mainstream critics. Whore is a stigmatized subject. Roxana claims “I went about with a Heart loaded with Crime and altogether in the dark” (311). Roxana is the prisoner of mind. Roxana displays keen awareness of the unbidden accusation of her criminal identity.26 Roxana ultimately resorts to the procurement of title of a woman of honor to magnify her wall of self-protection from the social stigma of the label of a whore.27 Social stigma is “an infamy worse than death” for Roxana (R 308). Roxana confesses her inner fear in stating whore label is “[d]earth to [her] but to think of “(334). Roxana reveals her inner struggle in stating
the strange Success I met with in all my wicked Doings…I either was happy or ease: No, no, there was a Dart struck into the Liver, there was a secret Hell within, even all the while, when our Joy was highest; but more especially
26 Roxana’s inner struggle has to be understood in the context of historical account of sexual constraint imposed upon women. Roxana asserts that she “has strong aversion to the Crime at first, partly to a Sense of Religion” but she “yields to the Importunity” of “Circumstances” (243). Roxana claims “the wickedness of my life, that made it necessary for [her] to keep [Susan her child] from a Discover” (361). Roxana is essentially a puritan tale which revolves around the religious issues of sin and repentance. But Roxana is supposedly a plausible
repentant who abandons the puritan teachings and seeks material interest and self-interest above all. Roxana “had strong Natural Aversion” against whoring, “partly owing to her “virtuous education and a Sense of Religion” (243). However, after she succumbs to the intoxication of jouissance and she abandoned her thought of “all Sense of Religion, and Duty to God, all Regard to Virtue and Honor” and called the “two Adulterers,” namely herself and the landlord-jeweler “Man and Wife” brazenly shameless (78).
27 The Dutch merchant promise that” Money purchased Titles of Honor in almost all Parts of the World” and he guarantees that he” can easily make” Roxana” a Baronet’s Lady in England” and a “ Countess in Holland” “ in stating” he knew where to purchase a Patent for BARNET, that is to say, to have the Honor and Title transferred to him; but if [ Roxana] intended to go Abroad with him, he had a nephew, …who had the Title of COUNT, with the Estate annexed ”with “ a thousand Pistoles,” in which is but a “small” amount of money in Roxana’s sight (285-6). Wealth and power are package deal and rank invites power. The upper-class members were termed as “noble Person” of contemporary society (221).
Chien 10 now…according to all appearance, I was one of the happiest women upon Earth…I say, I has such a constant Terror upon my Mind, as gave me now and then very terrible Shocks, and which made me expect something very frightful upon Accident of Life. (306)
Roxana’s shame-ridden whore identity traps Roxana into the state of” prisoner” and she is “always in fear” (R 256). The title of Roxana: The Fortunate Mistress is auspiciously a huge satire. The success under Roxana’s belt is limited to material success, which cannot save her wounded ego nor ascribe to her psychological salvation. In Kristeva’s theory in Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection (1982), the violence of abjection came into being violently and painfully though the subject “does not desire it” (9).28 Roxana asserts that she is “always bright, pleasant in company, and agreeable to everybody” (224). But at the bottom of her heart, she is always attacked by the undercurrents of emotional disturbance and phobia. Roxana eternally wrestles her soul with her narcissistic wound by defining herself as “as some scandalous Woman” (337). Whore identity is Roxana’s most-guarded abjection and clandestine secret. Roxana contends that “[she] was to conceal [her] disorder from everybody at the utmost peril, and at the same time expected everybody would discern it” (300). Roxana confesses the Dutch merchant-her second husband once “took notice” of her disorder and “he perceived [she] was under some unusual Disorder” and “proposed” her to “go a little way
28 The textual evidence in Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection would be abbreviated into PH in the following papers.
into the Air” (283). Roxana responses in hatred in stating: “do you think then, that I am crazed? You should then propose a Mad-House for me Cure” (283).29 At bottom, Roxana is mastered by temptation of vanity and shame. Roxana holds the belief that tile” bring [her] Respect among people where [she] might appear (284).30 Roxana contrives to sustain her “Pride and Vanity” by means of “extravagant Demands” so as to “maintain” herself “an expensive Englishwoman” in the profitable whoring trade (300).31 Evidently, whoring trade is supposedly aggravated on a collective level in the rise of capitalism.
I propose that Defoe casts light on the naked humanity through the sensational subjects, ranged from phobia of starvation, neurotic fear of shame to and potential fatal violence of abjection.32 After abandoned by her first husband, Roxana is burdened with the necessities of her five little children and she then began to “sell or pawn “everything in her house “for a little money” until the former “handsomely furnished” house is “stripped” and has nothing left to sell but her body (50). Roxana’s sanity and humanity are at stake when they “had eaten up almost everything” and Roxana senses that “the misery of [her] Circumstances hardened [her] Heart against [her] own Flesh and Blood” (51). She breeds a
29 And the well-meaning Dutch merchant replies, “No, no, say he, I do not mean anything like that, I hope the
Head may be distempered, and not the Brain” (283).
30 Roxana’s route to self-sufficiency exemplifies the paradigm of individualism but she also becomes a salve of
her criminal identity in her infamous whoring career.
31 Roxana’s confesses that her” cursed ill-got Wealth “is “the product of prosperous lust “which placed “[her]
above the meanness of Maintenance” (224, 304-5). Roxana confesses that “I had laid up an incredible
wealth, … and had I yet had the least Thoughts of reforming, I had all the Opportunity to do with Advantage, that ever Woman had; for the common Vice of all Whores, I mean Money, was out of the Question, nay, even Avarice itself seemed to be glutted” (223).Whoring is a relatively profitable working career than manual low-paying job of needlework. Roxana’s morbid compulsion is embed with psychological complexity.
32 I propose Defoe initiates psychological realism in the text of Roxana that he lavishes attention on the psychological motives of the leading lady.
hideous thought in her self-narrative in stating: “like one of the pitiful women of Jerusalem, I should eat up my every children themselves” (51-2).33 In Postcolonial Narrative and the Work of Mourning: J.M. Coetzee, Wilson Harris, and Toni Morrison (2004), Sam Durrant issues a shrewd statement in articulating a “radical experience of abjection” precipitates the subject from the domain of “the humane” into the domain of “inhumane” (38). Susan is Roxana’s blood daughter.34 Roxana terms Susan her “Tormentor” and “plague” in accusing Susan “hunts [her] out” like a “Hound,” “pressing her undergrounded history into discovery” (349-63). Roxana names Susan a “Wicked jade” to claim “her Kindred” as a “high-born” lady (316-50).35 Roxana senses her reputation as a benevolent Countess is in danger and once her identity of a whore discovered, she is doomed to swallow lifelong mortification. Roxana senses her second-skin, namely, her mask might be peeled off. In Roxana’s case, abjection invites the devil in the minds of human beings. Roxana’ scheme of child-murder offers a subtle testimony of the violence of abjection. In truth, Roxana unveils “Mankind [’s]” potential “brutality,” “blindness” and violence of abjection (R 4). Roxana’s sanity and rationality both crippled and gradually nullified by the momentum of abjection and she is
33 Roxana confesses that the “Apprehension” of the “Return” of “dreadful “terrors of -“poverty” makes her “Heart Tremble” (73). Her phobia of poverty somehow mirrors women’s economic exigency of contemporary society.
34 Roxana was” in a height of [ her] Glory and Prosperity” and “called the Conteess de－ and “was called Your Honor at every word (307). Roxana achieves the status of a countess in Holland. She achieves her dreamed point. Roxana claims “the wickedness of my life, that made it necessary for [her] to keep [Susan her child] from a Discover” (361).
35 Susan confesses her motive in stating: “I would prove my Relation to her, so she would not deny it any longer“(369). Roxana’ demands Amy to make Susan and the other you daughter “Gentlewoman” by” giving them a good tho’ late Education” as the necessary process to “set up for a Lady” so they are more able to “ married suitably to themselves and did not throw themselves away upon Scoundrels” (311).
obsessed with the monstrous thought of child-murder by executing defense mechanism. In the abstract of Peter Razzell and Christine Spence’s book The History of Infant, Child and Adult Mortality in London (2007), it renders historical evidence that infant and little-aged children’s mortality was doubled during eighteenth century.36 Roxana “arrive[s] to such a
Point of obstinate wickedness, so as to commit murther…as to harbor a thought so barbarous”
(350). I identify Roxana is the “Murtherer, and a bloody-minded Creature” (361).37 As confessed by Roxana “had [Susan] died by any ordinary Distemper I should have shed but very few Tears for her” (350). Roxana tends to cloaks her brutality and dissociate herself from the capital crime but she names it directly. Roxana’ scheme of child-murder offers a subtle testimony of the violence of abjection:
I scolded heartily at Amy for letting the Girl ever know her…it gave us great Uneasiness…I bade Amy punish the Girl for it, and she did so …I was married
36 The document exhibits the fact that children’s mortality rose to the peak in the middle of the eighteenth
37 Historical evidence can be found in an e-text of public domain at
<http://www.capitalpunishmentuk.org/fem1735.html>. The passage records the terrifying historical facts of female crime and punishment in the hard times of eighteenth-century society. 52.7% of the female criminal committed child-murder of their own blood who were the bastard with attempt to avoid social stigma or financial pressure. The rampant perversity of child-murder can be witnessed in sight of the Infanticide Act of
1922, which discharges child-murder from the capital crime. Further details of specific historical evidence of the
most common capital crime of bastard –murder can be secure in the e-text of public domain at <http://www.capitalpunishmentuk.org/infanticide.html>. It confirms the authenticity of intentional child-murder.
It chronicles that “Babies were poisoned, had their throats cut, and were battered to death, drowned in streams and rivers or even thrown down the privy (toilet).” The essay “Conjugal Lewdness or, Matrimonial Whoredom” (1727) was modified into “A Treatise Concerning the Use and Abuse of the Marriage Bed.” The essay is famed for its treatment of the issues of contraception and infanticide. In Ann Louise Kibbie’s high-regarded essay “Monstrous Generation: The Birth of Capital in Defoe’s Moll Flanders and Roxana” (1995), it scrutinizes the studies of interrelationship between production of capital, custom and mercantilism in the early phrase of capitalism through the lens of monstrous generation. In this approach, Roxana forsakes all manners of affection honor, justice, humanity, and even Christianity. As asserted by mistress Roxana, “if she had any Children, her Endeavor is to get rid of them, and not maintained them” (171). Roxana further confessed that “ I would willing have given ten Thousand Pounds of my Money, to have been rid of the Burden I had in my Belly” (203). Roxana asserts “I should be forced do as criminals do to avoid the gallows, plead my belly” (165).
and she knew my husband’s name, and would endeavor to find me out. I thought I should sunk down…in the middle of all my amazement, Amy starts up, and runs about the room like a distracted body; I will put an end to it, that I will; I can’t bear it; I must murther her; I will kill her B-…I will kill her, if there was not another Wench in the world…the notion of being discovered, carried with it so many frightful ideas, and …I was scare myself…so dreadful a thing is a Load of Guilt upon the Mind…it looked more threatening every Day. (317-19, 328)
Though Roxana is generally deemed an amoral story and Defoe is criticized as an immoralist, but I see things differently. In Roxana, Defoe does implants social commentary and moral exhortation. It is written “the most secret crimes are, by the most unforeseen Accidents, brought to light, and discovered…Sin and Shame follow one-another…like cause and Consequence, necessarily connected one with another; that the Crime going before, the scandal is certain to follow” (345). Roxana’s sexual transgression is fundamentally grounded in want of morality but child-murder denotes her want of humanity. The former violates
social normality and law but the latter offend the law of nature. Defoe decriminalizes the whoring trade by pardoning the necessity of whoring in case of deplorable women. After decades of whoring, Roxana “comes so smoothing out of the Arms of Hell… and landed safer” (R 306). Nevertheless, Defoe censures against Roxana’s sin of child-murder. In the cursory ending line of Roxana, it is said that Roxana “fell into a dreadful Course of Calamities” and
“the Blast of Heaven seemed to follow the Injury done to the poor girl” (R 379).
Roxana confesses her desire to “preserve the crime in memory” and she expects that “time wears out the memory” of her disgraceful past (162). Roxana senses the terrifying truth that the “amour with the Jeweler, were not so concealed” as “[she] thought “but it “came in a broken manner to [her] Sister-In-Law” who “made some Bustle” of Roxana’s immoral demeanor (315).38 By burying her dreadful abjection, Roxana buries a monster or a bomb. She is never a free agent because she always confines herself as a prisoner and always in fear. Roxana remarks that “Amy who knew my disease” (R 239). I perceive the “disease” Roxana refers to is her mental disease, which emerges in non-verbal ways and impossible to symbolize or name. As the story grinds the later part, Roxana’s senses that her shameful past is leaking out unprecedentedly and her anxiety of abjection and fear intensified in the wake of Susana’s hunting footsteps. Roxana’s symptom of mental disorder is unveiled in the form of self-confession:
I was under some unusual disorder …my distemper, whatever it was, lay much in my head…my thoughts were all confused…I was not conversable for some minutes, and that disorder had almost discovered itself. I had a complication of severe things upon me…and yet upon my concealing it depended the whole of my prosperity, so I used all manner of violence with myself to prevent the
38 Susan and Roxana’s children “had heard so long ago…that her mother had played the Whore” (315).
mischief which was at the door. (300-24)
Roxana senses that Susan might induce the exposure of her double psycho, namely psychological paradox, which serves as a formidable menace and disruption to Roxana’s identity formation. Roxana’s dreadful fear of exposure is tied up to the awareness of public condemnation. Roxana’s reaction is a fusion of neurotic fear and resistance in executing instinctual and compulsive defense mechanism.
Roxana’s superego and her wounded ego contradict. Her private and public identities are trapped in incompatibility and permanent ambiguity. She undergoes psychological battle and identity-disembodying. Her superego is manifested in her manifesto as the “finest women in France” (R 244).39 Nevertheless, Roxana’s whore identity is her wounded ego and
negative identity, which induce her narcissistic wound. Roxana confessed that she is
“ tarnished and discolored; so [she] came out brown, and looked like a cast-off mistress, or indeed, was [she] any better; tho she was not at-all impaired in beauty” (224). The quality of abjection is essentially a “terror to superego” (Powers of Horror: An Essay On Abjection 4). In a sense, abjection challenges or crushes its superego.
Roxana was born in a well-off middle-class family, but her first marriage transformed her into a socially vulnerable poor abandoned wife. Economic independence, power and social privilege are Roxana’s lost objects and her fundamental lack afterwards. In Elizabeth
39 She is the prisoner of the aristocratic superiority by hungering for self-respect and public-respect. Roxana repeatedly claims her identity of an upper-class gentlewoman, which verifies her narcissistic disposition and self-deception. Her narcissistic crisis can be examined through the lens of sexual morality.
Chien 17 Groze’s famed book A Feminist Introduction (1990), it encompasses essay “Sexuality and the Symbolic Order,” which denotes that abjection and desire both revolve around the fundamental lack (64). In my opinion, I hypothesize that the fascinated desire is the desire of the other, the lack. Being a whore, Roxana is absolutely a woman of dishonor. Thus, Roxana is tempted to embrace the identity of being a woman of honor, literally an upper-class gentlewoman. Gentlewoman is conventionally equals to women of honor and tied up to female chastity and social superiority. Following this line of thought, Roxana aims to retrieve her lost objects in particular public respect.40 Roxana’s incorrigible desire for the acquisition of magnificent and expensive clothing mirrors her desire to refashion her public identity. Her incorrigible desires toward title and clothes are heavily intertwined with her desire of public respect.41 But her lost-chastity is irretrievable. Her troubled subjectivity split into two conflicting halves. Roxana is an ambitious “Protestant whore,” who “prostitute[s] her Honor in the Point of Honor” and desires the tile of woman of honor, which begets “horrid Inconsistency” (R 104, 244). She wrestles her soul with the incompatibility of the two role of opposite poles. In Julia Kristeva’s psychological theory in essay “On the Melancholy Imaginary” (1987), Roxana is beset by “the love/ hated other” in the context of “narcissist wound” (7).42 Therefore, Roxana is supposedly “stricken by a fundamental lack” and she is
40 Women of upper-class society were assumed to be a dignified woman to be respected by the general public.
41 In Defoe’s another prostitute narrative Moll Flanders, the title lady Flanders is at mercy of morbid incorrigible desire to risk her life stealing “fine Clothes “rather than life necessities when she was rich enough to support herself (112).
42 The textual evidence in essay “On the Melancholy Imaginary” would be abbreviated into MI in the following papers. This essay is compiled in Pollock Griselda’s Julia Kristeva 1966-96:Aesthetics.Politics.Ethics. (1998).
Chien 18 susceptible to the “risks” of “schizoid fragmentation” (7). Roxana’s application of clothing is her application of mask. Roxana ultimately resorts to the procurement of title of honor with attempt to shrink from possible social stigma. Roxana’s renewed false identity of noble upper-class gentlewomen exemplifies her execution of defense mechanism by living under
the shelter of second-skin.43 Significantly, Roxana is ironically the representative of rotten Puritans, corrupted newly rich and captive of vanity and abjection in recognition of her morbid consumer desire.44 Roxana utilizes whoring trade to secure self-sufficiency but her bourgeoisie experience is tied up to sexual exploits and inescapable social stigma.45 At the core, I chiefly delve into Julia Kristeva’s essay “On the Melancholy Imaginary” and The Power of Horror (1982), coupled with Sigmund Freud‘s psychological theory in A General Introduction to Psychoanalysis (1920) and accompanied with Elizabeth Groze’s essay “Sexuality and the Symbolic Order ” to decipher Roxana’s traumatic life experience through the lens of psychological theory. Indisputably, Roxana is captive of vanity and abjection. Her life course is dominated by her narcissist would.
Defoe produces more than five hundred books, pamphlets and journals on diverse
issues, ranged from social crime, children and women issues to marriage and politics.46 In
43 Roxana conspires to triumph over her troubled whore identity by fashioning a newborn identity, which utilized for self-protection. And I contrive to explore how the application of false identity entwined with Roxana’s grievous whoring life experience.
44 In Rosemary Sweet and Penelope Lane’s cooperated book Women and Urban Life in Eighteenth-Century England: On the Town (2003), it provides a wealth of specific historical-stoical evidence that “the relative shortage of material dealing“ in “urban society” (5).
45 Roxana’s whoring bourgeois experience tragically brings her another irreversible shame and lifetime phobia.
46 The representation of Roxana as history of the time can be validated in Daniel Defoe’s Roxana, the fortunate mistress; or, a history of the life and vast variety of fortunes of Mademoiselle de Beleau, afterwards called the
Chien 19 sight of Defoe’s background of Puritan journalist, critic and novelist, I recognize that Defoe is observant to the social corruption such as clandestine scandalous social facts. Thus, he is
more disposed to renounce the social crime of the age.47 For instance, Roxana articulates a compelling argument in asserting that “the opposite circumstances of a wife and whore, are such, and so many, and I have seen the difference with such eyes, as I could dwell upon the subject a great-while; but my business is history” (171).48 In the preface of Roxana, the supposed author narrates that
[t]he story differs most of the modern performances of this kind, though some of them have met with a very good reception in the world: I say, it differs from them in this Great and Essential Article, Namely, that the Foundation of This is laid in Truth and Fact; and so the Story is not a Story, but a History.49
In this respect, I assume Defoe specifically unearths the grossest underground part of
Countess de Wintselsheim in Germany, being the person known by the name of the Lady Roxana in the time of
Charles II (1964).
47 In his book An Essay upon Projects (1887), Defoe upholds working conditions and welfare for the poor and women, all of which are the situated at the lowest social-economic stratum. Writer Virginia Woolf is another famed feminist and notable for her essay “A Room of One’s Own” (1929) is deemed an instrumental feminist text. It is an extended essay which is technologically based on the collection of the lecture she delivered at Newnham College and Girton College in 1928. In Pat Rogers’ Daniel Defoe (1972), Rogers issues a convincing point that “tales of real life, even when partially repulsive, if rendered subservient to the interest of virtue, may have their utility…when vice is painted in its low-prized colors” and in Defoe’s words, “it is not to make people fall in love with it, but to expose it; and if the reader makes a wrong use of the figures, the wickedness is his own” (100). Pat Rogers argues that “Defoe instructs us, that a prosperous wickedness has a worm at its root, which blights the bud of enjoyment, and spreads a canker through the whole circulation” (100).
48 Defoe is supposedly the eye witness of such plausible realistic social facts in the role of journalist. The immoral title characters of low class society reflect the eighteenth-century trend of anti-romantic realism. The eighteenth-century reading public’s s tastes have dramatically altered and were drawn to more creditable, secular and thus lead to the tread of realism.
49 Arthur Wellesley Secord’s Studies in the narrative method of Defoe (1963) is helpful for readers to study Defoe’s writing purpose. Also In “A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology, and Socialist-Feminism” (1990), Donna Haraway offers an insightful articulation that “social reality is lived social relations, our most important political construction, and a world-changing fiction” (149). I personally believe that realistic-fictions reflect or mirrors life in history in interweaving cultural –social issues of the time.
Chien 20 eighteenth-century society in the prostitute narrative Roxana.50 I propose Roxana chronicles the cultural climate of eighteenth century England catches down-to-earth reality of eighteenth century social changes and economic revolution and thus should not be defined as common fiction story.51
Social Mobility under Capitalism
In Roxana, Defoe fashions a poor libidinous whore as the leading lady by placing the margin to the center, which exemplifies the rebellious momentum in early eighteenth century. Defoe elevates the lowest figure of social stratum to the center questions and challenges the hierarchy structure of the time.52 In truth, Defoe creates a visibility for the marginalized whore. Defoe’s prostitute narrative of Roxana evokes multiple-layered issues. Firstly, prostitute narrative are not limited to the issue of poor women’s plight but also touches on issues of class struggle, power struggle in the framework of class hierarchy and gender hierarchy of eighteenth-century England. At bottom, the welfare promised by capitalism decidedly fashions a vision a seemingly liberating age in acknowledgement of the blooming
50 Defoe’s journalist tendency is witnessed in many of his works. For instance, in The Storm (1704), Defoe documents the realist events of Great Storm of 1703 to be his material in writing. In John J. Miller’s “Writing Up a Storm” (2011), John asserts that Defoe’s The Storm is measured as the first and utmost example of modern journalism by many critics. Defoe’s life experience is much alike Flanders that both pressed by economic constraint repeatedly. Defoe was arrested by bailiffs and given notice to leave lodgings belonging to Lord Weymouth (1640–1714) in April 1697. In Joseph Laurence Black’s The Broadview Anthology of Literature: The Restoration and the Eighteenth Century (2006), Joseph chronicles the historical facts that Defoe was arrested to Newgate Prison for his enormous debts and was released for his participation to his rival political side. Martin’s Beyond Belief: The Real Life of Daniel Defoe (2008) offer some informative and insider news about Daniel Defoe’s life experience. All in all, Defoe harbors sense of compassion and pours sympathy to the social vulnerable, oppressed groups literally the poor and women in particular in writing.
51 Fictions sometimes mirror the real world.
52 Likewise, In Moll Flanders, the title character’s social status encompasses the orphaned, the whore and to a thief, all of which are criminalized identities of the lower end on the socioeconomic sphere.
Chien 21 individualism in the wake of newborn secular material society.53 The cultural climate was dramatically transfigured in the watershed moment of history in the early eighteenth- century England.54 The rise of middle class fueled unprecedented social mobility.55 Roxana asserts that the expectation to “rise” is grounded in the acquisition of “money, ” which was the prerequisite to the elite circles (128). But social emancipation was supposedly limited. In
Peter Earle’s The Making of the English Middle Class: Business, Society, and Family Life in London, 1660-1730 (1989), Earle distinguishes the fact that “it is a historical joke that the middle class is always rising, a point made many years ago” (333).56 It is the social value of the time to hold the belief that honor “must come by Birth and Blood” (R 285).57
Defoe propagates liberating politics within the political context of Roxana. The prostitute narrative of Roxana serves as a foil for Defoe to uproot or at least undermine class privileges and gender privileges in his overt public satire. Under a traditional pattern, King
53 In The Invisible Woman (2005), Baudin perceives that “social distinctions were still striking, for instance the social standing between “artisan and laborer, between master and journeyman (104). She accentuates that “This is not only about what we might call social class, but about the ways people fit into the structures of the town” (103).
54 Early eighteenth century England underwent dramatic socioeconomic transformation, namely, a translation belt. Social evolution and cultural transformation go hand in hand and economic reformation catalyzes social changes.
55 Class hierarchy is a historically trenched issue by classifying the high and the low. Hierarchy system ascribes to the stratified world, which is grounded in the exploitation of the weaker. Class emancipation is inflamed by the rise of middle class‘s desire to rebel against the cultural dominance of noble class. Common people of the time were privileged to celebrate the unprecedented social mobility. The newly rich and the old rich also evoke another issue of class struggle. It leads a question that how aristocratic glamour waver its influence in in the bourgeois experience.
56 In Peter Earle’s The Making of the English Middle Class: Business, Society, and Family Life in London,
1660-1730 (1989), Earle claims that “birth and money were probably the most important distinguishing features within the middle class” that “a mercer whose father was a gentleman would have the social edge over a rather richer mercer of more lowly birth“ (333). As Put by Peter Earle, middle class was classified into distinctions. Merchant were the highest level among all and wholesalers was the secondary to merchant class and retailers and manufactures were the lowest stratum (28).
57 Roxana’s life experience could be interpreted as a thought-provoking warning to those who are afflicted with pride, avarice and social privilege.
Chien 22 and the prince were generally shaped with flawless, impeccable image.58 In Roxana, the king is hinted to be an erotic sadist and the prince is assumed to be a sexual predator and womanizer.59 Roxana conveys a pointedly critique in saying, “it was usual for Men of Quality” to be licentious and “so the Number of their Natural Children were so great” (118).60 Further, Roxana once confesses that “[she] had received a great-deal of handsome Usage” from the King in the role of courtesan-mistress that she “had met with several such Rubs” from the king in sexuality which is “surfeiting and nauseous” to her and “not fit to write of” (241-42, 249). Apparently, the aged king is insinuated to be the one who commits wild perverse sexuality in executing sexual abuse. In this approach, the social impression of the highly-civilized upper-class members is undermined dramatically. Defoe’s deployment of rhetorical strategy of irony is witnessed. Defoe effaces and offends the regime of class hierarchy between the low and the high by sketching a prince’s extramatrimonial love affairs. Defoe’s irony is subtle and severe in insinuating King and “prince pick up a common woman, without regard to what she is, or who she is, whether Sound or Rotten, Clean or Unclean” and “so blinded, as not really to distinguish” and “picked up the worst of all Holes” (R 226-27). Her self-recognition is unfolded that Roxana claims “the scandalous Use of [her] prostituted
58 Though Roxana “prostitutes” her “Chastity” along the way, she never casts hatred against sexual service until
she deals with the aged King (R 104).
59 Prince was generally assumed to be “Man of high Dignity” (100). I perceive the very fact that power invites
60 As pointedly commented by Roxana, a “Natural Son” is “a Remembrance to him of his most early Crime…an eternal Mark of Infamy…from the Folly of its Father and Wickedness of its Mother…The Disaster of his Birth will be always…a Bar to his Fortune in the World, our Affection will be ever his Affliction, and his Mother’s Crime be the Son’s Reproach; the Blot can never be wiped out by the most glorious Actions…the Infamy must descend even to its innocent Posterity…illegitimacy might attend the Name…It was usual for Men of Quality to make such little escapes, so the number of their Natural Children were so great” (112-15;117-18).
Chien 23 Body” is common “to Prince’s “inferiors” by defining herself a common whore (110). Evidently, the prince “had stooped so law “as to make a common whore Roxana his own (R
69). It leads to another connotation that a common whore’s intelligence is good enough to trick the most revered and prestigious figures of the country. It spotlights the foolishness and inability of the king and prince who fail to see through the underhanded behavior and deceptions made up by a common whore.
Besides, Defoe elevates the merit of middle-class members by remodeling the
definition of middle class tradesmen in the following account:
[he was] put out apprentice …but to a mean trade, and at which he was obligated to work very hard…found him all dirty, and hard at work …found him a good sensible, mannerly youth; that he knew little of the story of his father or mother, and had no view of anything but to work hard for his living… his benefactor …a plain, well-meaning, honest and king-hearted man. (232)
Defoe indeed instills bourgeois values through the characterization of Roxana’s merchant son. In this respect, tradesmen are painted with hard-workings image who earn his livings with
hard labor. Besides, the well-meaning Dutch Merchant can be valued as the representative of middle-class men who earns his “well-gotten Estate” (304). In stark contrast to middle-class men, the upper-class members were privileged to live in easiness and idleness for the sake of birth. Given this consideration, Defoe wages an ideological battle between middle and noble
Chien 24 class. In addition, Roxana’s whoring trade experience is a naked representation of female bourgeoisie experience. As aptly put by Laura Rosenthal in Infamous Commerce: Prostitution in Eighteenth-Century British Literature and Culture (2006), whoring could be deciphered as a “laboring-class strategy” (137). In Roxana’s case, she is a whore-mistress who goes to sexual service in the role of a sexual servant.
In the outset of the story of Roxana, the government is insinuated to be ignorant to the calamities of the poor in need.61 The irony is perceptive. The highly-placed king and prince throw “unparalleled Bounty” upon an unworthily promiscuous woman and make a luxury-indulgence cunning prostitute to be equally rich as a princess who was a merciless hardhearted suspect of child-murder (R 104). In this approach, Defoe skillfully derides and unmasks the hypocritical nature of the ruling class and social corruption through art of fiction. Defoe perfectly undermines the glamor of the aristocratic by characterization of licentious powerful figure with political correctness. In this approach, Defoe promotes social emancipation from tyrannical traditional authority evasively.62
61 The socially vulnerable poor people cannot secure piece of assistance from the government. For instance, Roxana asserts that that her father was “in very good Circumstance” and “his door continually thronged with miserable Objects of the poor starving Creatures, who at that Time fled their hither for Shelter, on Account of Conscience, or something else” (37).
62 The arising social mobility is a new product of the revolutionary period, which evokes class struggle and power struggle between the newly rich and the old rich, namely, the middle class and upper-class members. The conventional binary barrier between the high and the low is shattered to a certain level. The momentum of social mobility hinges on the rise of the middle class, which poses threat to the ruling class. The rise of the middle
class represents the newly rich and the aristocratic embodies the old gentleman. To be more precisely, bourgeoisie refers to well-off capitalist and is not synonymous with the middle class and usually substitute with the mercantile class. Bourgeois’ fortune sometimes surpasses the aristocratic and thus their cultural dominance is undeniable. Cultural dominance of aristocracy partly shifted to the middle class in the rise of capitalism, which somehow challenges dominant authority of ruling class. In Roxanna, people of highest Rank are mocked
by their licentious disposition and luxurious indulgence. For instance, Flanders argues that “there was not a finer Man…your Modest Man in common Opinion were sometimes no better than other people, only they keep better
Initial Point of Material Society in Roxana
As the story proceeds, Roxana objectifies interpersonal interrelationships through business terms.63 Significantly, Roxana objectifies her body into article in in arguing giving birth would “impair” the” Great Article that “supports” her” interest” (R 143). She further titles her “benefactor, “namely her sexual customer to her “Deliverer “(174).64 Also, Roxana identifies herself the “Vassal “and terms the prince her “harvest” (78, 326).65 Roxana compares her accumulated capital to “Box of Plate” and she views herself “an old Piece of Plate” which “had been hoarded up some Years, and comes out tarnished and discolored” (224, 298).66 In Margaret Breen’s Genealogies of Identity: Interdisciplinary Readings on Sex
Character, or if you please, were the better hypocrites” (MF 230). In Clarissia Richardson unmask the “sexual underworlds beneath the surface of polite society” (Rosenthal 130). As a middle class capitalist or entrepreneur, Defoe is stricken by the class struggle of the time because the middle class is attached to the “non-noble” label.
63 The whoring trade absolutely performs the price system that is common for men to “come to make a Prize of
[Roxana] “ (225). It is said that “he valued [Roxana] above 500l. a Year. (226).
64 In Karl Marx’s A Critique of Political Economy (1977), Marx coins the terms “commodity fetishism” in explicating men’s own labor is attached to a material value and attached to universal equivalent of money (163-65). In Roxana’s complementary novel Moll Flanders, the title lady depicts banker in terms of “safe Card” (MF 142).Mark pointedly suggests that “circulation of commodities is the starting-point of capital” (247). Marx adds that capital market of the world stems from the modern history of sixteenth century (247). According to the historical account, the overseas exploitation of sixteenth century and colonization practice of seventeenth century laid the foundation of eighteenth-century capitalism. In this respect, industrial revolution initiates industrial capitalism. Karl Marx is famed for his augment that human beings lives in the reality of material world consciously or not. It is universally acknowledged fact that capitalism is grounded in a system of exchange and centers around capital, free market and labor.
65 Roxana states: “I came to see her [Susan] near-hand, was my old Cook-maid in the Pallmall…my own daughter; that I knew her, was out of doubts“ (322). Susan was “at first my Cook-maid in the Pallmall” namely, a “Drudge” who do hard-labor for a bread (R312). Susan claims “what have I done that you won’t own me…I won’t do anything to disgrace you…I can keep a Secret, especially for my own Mother “which proves to be a lie (R 313). Suppose Roxana is a poor miserable prostitute like Moll Flanders, Susan might not be so impertinent in seeking her blood mother. Roxana even isolate Susan in terms of “this unwelcome guest” (367).
66 Roxana likens Quakers’ assistance to “kind Usage” and her charity to the Quaker as the “Fruit” of Quaker’s faithfulness (298-99).The Quaker is a “Christian” and she is the” “best creature “in the public eye owing to her social status (322-53). She is “a lucky Creature” by her birth (329). Also, she is a “sharp penetrating creature” who serves Roxana by covering her lies (331). In the role of Rxoana’s “faithful Spy,” the Quaker censures Susan as a “Shame-Lady”, a “Cheat, and a Common Whore” (331-54)
Chien 26 and Sexuality (2005), Breen equalizes businesswoman like Roxana to a “manager of sexual exchanges “in asserting that “there is a total transference of body parts to money-boxes or coins in the narrative” (85).67 Without doubt, Roxana’s self-narrative is rife with economic and financial terms and demonstrates none emotional ties.68 Hence, I propose Roxana‘s life experience manifests a life experience of a mechanized process.69
Roxana embodies the corrupted newly rich. She exhibits consumerist desire in
seeking insatiable material success. Money, clothing and title are expedient to show a person’s social dominance. The early eighteenth-century England marked a turning point of a newborn social order and market. Eighteenth century England marked an initial point of material society.70 The project aims to criticize the detrimental social value under secular material society and social impact of capitalism in prostitute narrative Roxana. I propose that Defoe’s articulates an acute denunciation-oriented social critique against the avarice-based consumer culture in Roxana.71 At bottom, Roxana’s perpetual sexual
67 In The Rape of Clarissa: Writing, Sexuality, and Class Struggle in Samuel Richardson (1982), Terry Eagleton
addresses an insightful facts that “fundamental unit of exchange” is “woman” in patriarchal social structure (56).
68 All her licentious benefactor are disguised and termed by their social status without offering any personal
characterization except her first husband and the landlord-jeweler.
69 Furthermore, Roxana objectifies her body into a mechanical machine. She resists leaving the sexual whoring trade when she was incredibly beautiful and young because she perceives her body functional and profitable with extra battery to serve.
70 Both Roxana and Flanders are obsessed with morbid compulsive desire for material gain, ranged from fortune, title and gentility. Ambition, avarice and insatiable material desire or even are detrimental unalterable byproducts of material culture and consumption culture. Roxana aims to “have a handsome Maintenance” and she is still aiming at getting more money and “laying it up too” (170, 210). As Flanders claims, “poverty brought me into the Mire, so Avarice kept me in “ (MF 188, 203). Moll could “ wor’d” with her “ Needle” and could “Maintain” herself but she “yield[s]” to the crime of “Crime” in arguing she forsakes” all Remorse and Repentance ‘and “ falls into the snare of “Avarice” because she concludes a whore can be” Maintain[ed] in a “sufficient” and “Handsome” manner,” without working, which was better” than her”old Trade”stealing (MF 207- 37).Moll’s continual whoring roots in the “Evil” of “Covetousness” and her “Beauty” is “a Pimp to vice” (188, 203).
71 Roxana is commonly values as Defoe’s darkest amoral novel of a disgraceful whores’ autobiography. Roxana
Chien 27 transgression and course of economic independence are entwined with temptation of wealth, fame and vanity. Roxana admits that she is guided by a “dictates of an ambitious Mind” in aiming at title transcendence (201). Roxana voices her self-awareness in stating
If I had not been one of the foolishest, as well as wickedest Creature upon Earth, I could never have acted thus…for casting myself upon a life of scandal and hazard…in the stormy seas of crime…blinded by my Vanity….I am a Memorial to all that read my Story, a standing Monument of the Madness and Distraction which Pride and Infatuation from hell run us into; how ill our Passion guide us; and how dangerously we act, when we follow the dictates of an ambitious Mind…I had known something of the influence I had had upon the Fancies of Men, even of the highest Rank…I thought nothing less than of being Mistress to the King himself. (198, 201)
Against the backdrop of an increasingly secularized material-driven society, title rather than humanity was the best ornament of a gentlewoman. Earthly possessions associated with personal merit and respectability from the public eye in particular, money, title and clothing. The notion of “honored with titles” makes a “strange Elevation” upon Roxana, which induces “Pride” upon her and causes “Effect of a violent Fermentation in [her] Blood”(278-79).
is generally measured as amoral stories. Roxana was a desperate victim who was exploited by the circumstance from the outset. Roxana trades her virtue out of necessity of food first and then for the sake of social superiority. The ending of Defoe’s prostitute narrative of Roxana and Moll Flanders generally induce heated debate. Ostensibly, Roxana and Flanders’s economic condition differs dramatically. In The Invisible Woman (2005), Baudin makes a point that that “the prostitute is hired and paid in return for her favors, the actress was hired and paid for entertaining, and giving satisfaction” (131).
Roxana confesses that “[her] fancied Greatness…had thrown [her] into a kind of Fever”
(279). As shrewdly put by Dutch Merchant, “money could not give Principles of Honor”
(285). 72 Unquestionably, Roxana’s title fails to elevate her soul. Fine clothes were sarcastically utilized to judge a women’s “Quality” rather than humanity (R 275). For instance, Roxana notices that her “Turkish Habit” makes everybody looked at [her] with a kind of pleasure, which gave [her] great Advantage too” (221).73 Clothing and title were instrumental to represent a person’s social identity but clothing was more expedient than title for women outside the elite circle. Clothing was decidedly the vehicle of shifting identity, which was an efficient apparatus to construct identity transfiguration. Significantly, Peter Earle equalizes the eighteenth-century middle-class capitalists to “great consumers” and “accumulating class” (269). Earle argues that collective expenditure was a major part of the effective demand of the middle-class capitalist (269). Roxana’s consumer desire evokes the concern of perpetual danger of an emergent commercial world. Evidently, traditional values are shattered, including compassion, virtue and humanity.74 Roxana’s material mania revolves around her desire for identity negotiation. Roxana is arrested by morbid accumulation of luxurious costume to transcend her public identity into woman of quality.
72 As the narrative grinds, Roxana came to recognize a fact that though she is rich enough equally rich as a princess, she cannot sure title with her capital. Roxana holds abhorrence against marriage offer but she cannot resist the appeal of noble title which Dutch Merchant promises her in marriage. When the Dutch merchant named Roxana “his princess” she confesses that she is “touched” with “great-deal of Satisfaction” (284). The Dutch merchant asserts that “Titles sometimes assist to elevate the Soul and to infuse generous Principles into the Mind” (285).
73 Roxana asserts that “when [she] came abroad, [she] frequently put it on (293). Amy does “dressed herself in the Habit of a Turkish Slave, being the Garb of my [Roxana’s] little Turk” (292). It is an “Outlandish Dress” (334).
74 For instance, Roxana claims that “love and gallantry” are “nauseous“ in her sight (227).
Chien 29 For instance, the Quakers identity is Roxana’s dreamed object of virtue. Hence, Roxana schemes to assume Quaker’s identity by utilizing Quakers dressing code. Roxana confesses that “[she] pretends… to be extremely in Love with the Dress of the Quakers…but [her] real design was, to see whether it would pass upon [her] as a disguise” (254). In this respect, Roxana’s endeavors to transcend her social identity by means of clothing-remodeling.75 Whenever Roxana wears the Turkish Dress, Roxana “made a most glorious Show indeed”
that she “was all covered with Gold, Diamonds; her Hair and Head-Dress” (337). Roxana “had Balls and Meetings in her Ladyship’s Apartments, every week almost…invite all Nobles to come, and she would give them a Ball…they said the King had heard how finely the Turkish Lady danced, and that he was there to see her…came disguised…but we all knew which was the King, well enough…The Name Roxana…was a Turkish Name” (334-36). On the other hand, Roxana” learned to dress like a Quaker and “talked like a Quaker” and “passed for a Quaker among all People” (256). Evidently, Roxana’s application of clothing is her application of mask, which witnesses the potential reversibility of identity metamorphosis.76 Nevertheless, the application of mask secures but slippery false identity.
Religious belief was decidedly shattered or in the occurrence with capitalism. I propose that compassion was decidedly withered in the in the world of worldliness. Take Roxana for example. Abandoned by her husband and burden with the throes of possible
75 Since lady of upper class society were equalized to lady of quality, Roxana utilizes clothes to fashion an image of the lady of elite circle. Roxana’s scheme works well that she “dressed up in a Quakers’ habit, and looked like a Quaker” (378).
76 The application of mask can turn the identity into the opposite other.
Chien 30 starvation of herself and her children, she was desperate and “expected to be starved” (110). She dumped her former dignity and beseeched the well-off relatives for assistance but in vain. Roxana states that
The condition I was reduced to, begged they would advise me what course to take, laid myself as low as they could desire…I received not one farthing of assistance from anybody, was hardly asked to sit down at the two sister’s houses, nor offered to eat or drink at two more near relations… I had not one shilling in the house to buy them victuals…they saw me in rags and dirt…and looking almost like one starved…the house that was handsomely furnished…was now stripped and naked…we have eaten up almost everything…unless like one of the pitiful women of Jerusalem, I should eat up my own children themselves…I began to reconciled to parting with them all…I might be free from the dreadful necessity of seeing them all perish. (48, 51)77
In response to Roxana’s request of assistance, her sister-in-law insists that “charity begins at home” (56). The etiquette of the emergent commercial world holds no compassion to the poor. I recognize that Roxana’s downtrodden dignity is her first traumatic experience and she grows to harden against people around her. I recognize the fact that self-centered capitalist
77 In Infamous Commerce: Prostitution in Eighteenth-Century British Literature and Culture (2006), Jean Rosenthal issues a penetrating statement that in reformist writing, deplorable desperate women usually faces “dreadful alternative” of either seeing her adored child, “perish with hunger and with thirst,－or, to obtain its support by－the horror of prostitution! “Which nothing could have induced them to procure, but the cries and tears of hungry children, craving repeated supplies of food” (134).
Chien 31 embody the mass, which is another contributing factor to poor women’s further victimhood and social crime.
In the secular material society of early eighteenth-century England, virtue became an outdated social value. Roxana confesses that she chooses to “Shipwreck” her “virtue” in expectation of “a safe Harbor” of capital accusation (202). Against the increasingly secular worldly society, the relatively poor were assumed to be relatively inferior and virtue cannot earn public respect. Roxana admits that she would rather “prostitute” her “chastity” and bear “the Baseness of being a Whore” than be “frightened with the Prospect of Beggary”(104,
183). Roxana claims, “I could give up my Virtue, and expose myself, yet I wou’d not give up my Money…tho’s it was true, yet too gross for me to acknowledge” (171). In this respect, social values were deviated to a certain extent. Roxana asserts that “I should soon be monstrous rich” and “was not averse to adding to my Estate at the further Expense of my Virtue” (212). Both Amy and Roxana are aggressive in seeking material rewards at the expense of their body.
Roxana’s faithful-like servant Amy is disposed to masquerade herself as a lady of virtue and lady of innocence with motive to sell herself off with flying colors by performing artificial chastity.78 She acts “ashamed” when she is offended by the landlord’s sexual
78 As pointedly suggested by Christopher Hill, the text of Clarissa addresses an issue that “chastity of the mind is more important than chastity of the body (Clarissa Harlowe and Her Times, 331).It is quite possible that both Amy and Roxana are cunning from the beginning. For instance, when the landlord came over and planned to spend over the night, Amy “puts one her Best Clothing on…dressed like a Gentlewoman” with intention to seduce or at least cater the landlord-jeweler” and “show no dislike” to him but “full of mirth,” which somehow validate her willingness of whoring (65). Amy is active in dictating Roxana into whoring in stating” I must put
Chien 32 request and she acts “ grievously out of sorts the next Morning after sleeps with the landlord and cry” vehemently” for the reason that she does “not Married” (81-2). At the core, Amy’s hysteria response is based on her want of compensation. Amy is not blind to her self-interest. In this approach, Amy’s artificial chastity is verified. Ostensibly, Amy is not a passive Jade
but an “ambitious” jade (275).
Some critics are disposed to view Amy and Roxana’s relationship through the lens of homosexuality but I view Amy’s excessive affection in consideration of her self-interest.79 As perceived by Roxana, Amy “was a “cunning Girl “from the beginning” (248).80 Amy is evidently an artful lady rather than a naïve one. In this respect, Amy’s uncommon her
faithfulness, either sincerely or not is grounded in the concern of interest-return.81 It is said if the “Maid chanced to be Handsomer than the Mistress, she oftentimes makes a good Market,” namely to “steal a husband” from the mistress (MF 21). For instance, when Roxana fails to breed children for the landlord-jeweler, Amy volunteers to do the favor in the name of Roxana’ good in stating” if you would consent, tell him you will do as Rachael did to Jacob, you to-Bed tonight together” (70).
79 Roxana names Amy “my woman,” which equalized to “my people” in my definition (281).
80 Rather than women of innocence, both Amy and Roxana prove to be ambitious and sophisticated rather than ignorant. Roxana casts doubts at the “faithful Temper “of Amy and Amy’s “uncommon Honesty,” Fidelity,” and “Excess of Affection” turn out be but “Pretense of affection” (60- 2, 189). Roxana sees through the real nature of Amy’s sinister design.
81 In Roxana, the Quaker is generally defined as the representative of a dignified woman by the critics. But I see things differently. I propose that women of the time were “sharp penetrating Creature[s]” rather than “innocent, well-meaning Creature” including the appearing dignified Quaker (331-72). Quaker is a woman of understanding that she “perfectly acquainted with Affairs” of adultery and she serves Roxana diligently in expectation of material favor (266). For instance, the Quaker intentionally voluntary to search the whereabouts of the Dutch Merchant, and she informs Roxana” I assure thee, I should not betray thee” (263). When Susan hunts Roxana outs, the Quaker scolds Susan’s intention and cast contempt at Susan. So Roxana realizes that “it had been possible to conceal” the infamous affair from the Quaker. When the Quaker is richly reward by Roxana, the Quakers is preoccupied with ”sudden joy” and “she colored, trembled, changed, and at last grew pale and was indeed nearer fainting…and immediately burst into crying (298).
Chien 33 when she have no children, put her Maid to Bed to him” (73).But when Roxana consents to her quest, Amy states “If you put me to-Bed to him, that’s another Case. I believe I shall not rise again very soon” (80). In this approach, Amy’s sinister intention looms.82 It is verified that Amy is tempted to seduce the landlord by herself and replace her master Roxana’s role to the landlord-jeweler.83 The event indisputably witnesses Amy’s an artful manipulation and betrayal, which backfires partly because of Roxana’s more wicked, devious and aggressive move. In Women and Urban Life in Eighteenth-Century England: On the Town (2003), Rosemary Sweet asserts that “in the wider commercial world” these well-off spinsters were honored with titles such as ‘Madam’ or ‘Mrs’ (21). Amy transformed herself from a
disarming poor servant into well-off servant. Amy is a “diligent indefatigable Creature” who aims to upgrade her material level (240). She is entitled to be “Madame Amy” in the later part of the novel (R 240). As the story grinds the final part, Amy is “reported” to be incredibly
rich that that she saved together between seven and eight Hundred Pounds“ and “she would never be in want” by running business of sexual industry (251-94, 333). As voiced by Roxana, Amy manages “affairs of receiving money, interest, rents and the like” for Roxana (375).84 Amy is also a “woman of Business “who manages investment by measuring interest-return in interpersonal relationships (169). When Amy is dispatched by Roxana to seek the
82 As issued by Roxana, Amy takes the role reversal to dictate Roxana what to do “upon any Emergence” in the role of Roxana’s” Counselor” (71). And Roxana claims” Amy was always at my Elbow” who persistently instills powerful arguments to her (282).
83 The landlord is not a man of honesty but a man of pleasure and Amy’s horrified response to adultery makes the landlord perceive adultery” a vile action” for the first time,” which merely evokes the landlord’s sense of guilty and Amy is subsequently entitled by the landlord as “Wife of his Aversion” (81-2).
84 She is endowed the rights to “in Charge with the House” by the landlord-jeweler (85).
Chien 34 whereabouts of the prince, Amy negotiates with the prince in telling “him, that if he had any such Commission, she would endeavor to find Roxana out for the Prince (276). Amy views marriage as an investment and despises the supposedly poor Dutch Merchant is not” worthy-looking after” (275). In this respect, capitalism operated the world through a price system and the individuals are capitalist such as Amy. To a broad extent, the female
characters in Roxana incarnate interest-driven female capitalist.
Chapter One: Roxana’s Man-Woman and Protestant Whore Identities: Gender Subversion
Roxana’s claimed role of man-woman interlocks with manifold issues, particularly her demand of equal footing between men and women. For instance, Roxana named her husband in terms of “my Spouse” rather than my lord (307). In Roxana, men’s sexual intercourse was beautified as “gallantry,” “Conquer” or “Merit” and women’s sexuality was termed as a “vice” (60-1, 101). In this respect, sexual morality is man-made and socially determined. Roxana models men’s freedom in sexuality in sexuality, which could be viewed as a rebellion of boundary-transgression in breaching gender hierarchy. In a sense, she infringes the social normality constructed by men. In Gender Trouble (1990), gender is defined as a progress of “becoming” (Butler 33). I perceive gender identity is social-culturally produced and naturalized and thus Roxana’s boundary-crossing fundamentally signals defiance and revolt of authority or social control. .Roxana demonstrates defiance of social convention, social obligation, and social expectation in the name of “free agent” (187).
Besides, as aptly commented by Judith Butler in Imitation and Gender Insubordination (1991), gender is grounded in “the naturalistic effects of hetereosexualized genders are produced through imitative strategies” (313). Roxana hungers for sexual
Chien 36 satisfaction in the role of a protestant whore by fashioning herself as a man-woman.85 Significantly, Roxana confesses that she does not feel sexually exploited and she terms whoring an “agreeable Crime” and she entitles herself to be “a Lady of Pleasure,” namely, a lady of sexual pleasure (169, 243).86 After the death of landlord-jeweler, Roxana is far from financially needy. Roxana claims “I had now no Poverty attending me; on the contrary, I was the mistress of ten Thousand Pounds…had I been Mistress of my Resolution” (100). Significantly, Roxana’s sexual transgression incarnates the
internalization of masculinity. Roxana brazenly confessed that she does not “suffered” herself “to be made use of” by offering sexual service and she “has a mind to gratify herself” by means of “entertain[ing] a Man, as a Man does a Mistress,” by engrossing sexual indulgence (119, 188, 243). Roxana confesses that
[she commits] six and twenty years of wickedness, without the least signals of remorse, without any signs of repentance; or without so much wish to put an end to it; [she] had so long habituated [herself] to…. a vile and vicious Life of Whoredom and Adultery …[which]appeared to be no vice to [her] …[and she] went on smooth and pleasant. (229, 304)
I propose Defoe reverses general assumptions by bringing women’s sexual desire into light
85 Roxana can be valued as the feminist’s cyborg story, which successfully “reverse and displace the
hierarchical dualisms of naturalized identities” (Gender/Sexuality Theories and Visual Culture 175).
86 Roxana claims whoring or inordinate sexuality does not “waste either Principal or Interest” (224).
Chien 37 and thus I argue that Defoe decriminalizes women’s sexual desire and whoring trade too.87 Roxana additionally confesses that “I could not without blushing” that she “loved to stick to” whoring trade for the sake of vice and she confessed that she is “delighted in being a whore”
(244). Men’s promiscuity was generally pardoned and women’s sexual transgression was “severely punished for any breach of chastity” and the double standard of sexual morality was reinforced during the eighteenth century (Spencer 109). After retirement of decades of whoring, she lives like a queen in material level but she compares herself to a “fish out of Water” (257). Business of whoring features easiness and satisfaction for Roxana. Roxana claims whoring or inordinate sexuality does not “waste either Principal or Interest” because she doesn’t feel abused (224). Roxana indeed s shakes off the sexual constraint by refashioning a new birth identity as a man-woman and she commits deviant sexuality along the way.
In The Rise of Women Novelist (1986), Jane Spencer, aptly points out that a woman’s identity and morality hinged on her sexual disposition and virginity was an obligatory requirement for women alone (109). Pure women were valued as a race want of sexual desire and women’s sexuality is greatly restricted to the purpose of consummation of procreation (Spencer 109). In this respect, women’s sexual desire was denaturalized and criminalized. I propose that men took the role of cultural transmitter by creating social value and women
87 As a capitalist himself, I suppose Defoe endorses the idea of laboring for wealth. The ethos of middle class support the idea that hard-labor exchange for wealth.
Chien 38 epitomized the cultural receiver. Significantly, the dogma of double standard was reinforced during the eighteenth century (Spencer 129). In this respect, sexual morality is the consequence of historicization and gender identity was dichotomized in eighteenth century society.
I propose Roxana’s resolution of anti-convention signals her desire of anti-discrimination. Roxana’s resistance of social normality crystalizes her resistance of social bondage and social oppression. Roxana resists to be restrained by gender boundary.
Roxana prioritizes sexual pleasure above a woman’s reputation that demands sexual satisfaction above other concerns. Sex and marriage proposal conventionally go hand in hand. It was “customary” that “coming to-Bed” was “a sure Game” to a marriage and also “was supposed to be the greatest Favor a Woman could grant” (183-84).88 But Roxana confesses that the merchant is welcomed to visit her lodging at night whenever he pleased without concerning the fee and she allows the Dutch Merchant to “lye” with her though she reject to marry him (183).89 She allows the Dutch Merchant “all the Freedom of a Husband” that she lets him to “ lye” with her “as often as he pleased…whenever he desired” and states “I resolved from the Beginning, he should Lye with me if he would, and for the rest, I left it to come after” (182-85).
Roxana’s man-woman identity also unveils her inner desire to shrink from her former
88 Moll names sexuality before marriage in terms of a “wicked pleasure,” namely, a “crime” (28-9).
89 A woman is “Undone” if she has sexuality before marriage (MF 33).
Chien 39 victimized passive role of the oppressed into a power-hunger hardened figure of oppressor.90 Roxana’s desire of becoming a man-woman concretes her anguished spirit against social to reclaims her authority in the oppressive society and her determination to penetrate into the colonizer party and monopolize wealth and power as man’s counterpart. Roxana’ repeated manifesto of economic independence unmasks her drastic anger to shrug off economic and sexual constraints imposed upon women. Autonomy is traditionally men’s exclusive privilege. But Roxana wields absolute autonomy by securing property and power.
The Social Injustice of Marriage Law
In Roxana, Defoe indeed constructs and deconstructs patriarchal system by accentuating that economic independence was male’s privilege in patriarchal social structure. When it comes to the issue of “managing estates,” Dutch merchant asserts that” in general the sex [women] were not capable of it; their hands were not turned for it, and they had better choose a [men] capable and honest (163).91 Roxana talks of “Independency and being a Free Woman” repeatedly (276). Further, Roxana articulates “a woman was as fit to govern and enjoy her own Estate …as a Man was” and this consciousness preoccupied Roxana and henceforth she
90 Roxana views Amy her lifetime servant. And she titles Amy as her “Privy Counselor,” “Jade,” “the better Penitent” and “a wild, gay, loose Wretch” (286, 310-22). Roxana presses Amy into whoring and scapegoats Amy of her wrongdoings such as whoring and child-murder in the role of the oppressor. The bawdy Roxana transforms herself into a gruesome oppression by pressing Amy into a whore, to be her counterpart. Roxana
confessed, “I fairly strip her…and thrust her in…I was now become the Devil’s Agent, to make others as wicked
as myself, I brought him to lye with her again several times after that” (81-3).
91 Women of the time were generally the hanger-on.
Chien 40 is inspired to be a “free Agent” (187, 211). In this approach, I propose men of time waged violence against women by marginalizing and disadvantaging women in imposing economic constraints.92 Roxana addresses accusation against marriage law with statement that “ the Laws of Matrimony puts the Power” into men’s hands that “the very Nature of the Marriage-Contract “ forced women to submit “Liberty, Estate, Authority, and everything” to the husband and coerced women into passive creatures like “Slave” or “Beggar” (187-90).93 Roxana shrewdly claims “while a Woman was single, she was a Masculine in her politick Capacity that she had then the full Command of what she had…that she was a Man in her separated Capacity, to all Intents” that “she would controlled by none” and “was in
Subjection to none” namely, a “Free Agent” to “enjoy” a gifted “Liberty” (187- 88 ). In this respect, marriage is an oppression-oriented system which makes women subordinate further. With this awareness, Roxana tragically embarks whoring as a means to extricate herself from restraints of matrimonial system. I recognize that property and power are package deal, which promises the titled autonomy. Fundamentally, marriage law withholds the wife’s property into “Men’s Property” (211).94 Social injustice between men and women was intensified within
92 Roxana casts appalling abhorrence at economic constraint and sexual constraint women endure of the time,
which initializes her desire of becoming a man-woman.
93 In the role of cunning, sophisticated capitalist, Roxana’s ultimate downfall sheds light on social injustice imposed upon a wife by marriage law. In Joan R. Gundersen and Gwen Victor Gampel’s Married Women’s Legal Status in Eighteenth-Century New York and Virginia (1982), it indicates that some historians have
accepted the census that the husband and wife are one unity and that one is the husband under the law. Hence, in sight of her economic autonomy and economic independence, Roxana cast appalling abhorrence to marriage proposal.
94 A married woman’s rights to govern her property were suspended because common law of English disadvantaged women by disfranchising women’s inborn rights of owing property within marriage inheritance system. In this approach, a married women is to “have no Interest” but “all is the Interest, Aim, and View, of the Husband; she is to be the passive Creature…she is to led a Life of perfect Indolence, and living by Faith (not in
Chien 41 matrimonial system. A married women’s disarming position was validated under the marriage law. Roxana harbors ”different Notions of Matrimony” from “what the received Custom” in viewing “State of Matrimony” is a “State of Inferiority” in women’s case and she compares matrimony to “a kind of Golden Chain” which denotes “Hardships” for women and “Married State” a” Captivity” and” Family being” a” House of Bondage”(211, 225-27 ).95 A wife is destined to lose the access to her own fortune. Thus, Roxana compares the station of wife to the “State” of being a “Prisoner” (207). Though Roxana’s “handsome Estate” can “keep any
Woman in England form being a whore,” she claims that she has “no Inclination to be a Wife” but “aimed at being a kept Mistress” (170, 210). Roxana claims “a wife is looked upon” her husband and “under his Authority” in viewing a wife is “but an Upper-Servant” and “no
better or worse than the Servant among the Isralities” (170, 183-87). Roxana articulates that when a wife relinquishes her fortune to her husband by the marriage law, her autonomy is permanently suspended. Roxana perceives that submitting her fortune equalizes to forsaking her dreamed liberty (185). Roxana’s ultimate downfall after her second marriage somehow indicates the fact that patriarchal authority was still influential and massive in the revolutionary period of early eighteenth-century England.
God, but) in her Husband, she sinks or swims, as he is either Fool or Wise Man” (189). According to the law of the time, woman’s possession or property has to transfer to her husband. The husband is privileged to take over the inheritance of his wife and makes the women’s fortune and married women were coerced into passive creatures in this approach. Roxana asserts that “men put women subject to the Laws of Marriage of their own making” for their own good, which victimized women’s role in the station of a wife (211). Besides, a wife was not given the right to run the family business. Seeing her first fool husband’s errors of doing business, she has no “possible Way to prevent it” owing to the convention and law’s bondage (11).
95 However Roxana is chained by her whore identity and her shameful whoring trade. Roxana is afraid of staying in Paris (164).
As asserted by Roxana, a widow in a conventional normality signals the “worst” and “desolate” state of a woman (28). The Quaker is a widow who is load with economic constraint with few children and she “had the Misfortune to have had a bad husband…she did not want, but she was not at-all above such as Help” (255).96 Nevertheless, a widow was given more autonomy to secure economic independence than married women. As asserted by Roxana, a widow is endowed the rights to “claim” the husband’s “Estate” when he dies by “the Custom of England” (171). In Maria Agren’s notable book The marital economy in Scandinavia and Britain: 1400-0900 (2005), Agren shrewdly articulates that “widows were more or less free to make contracts and decide for themselves in economic matters” than married woman according to the law (Agren 183). Nevertheless, Agren displays widow’s plight in the case of remarrying in stating “if a widow wanted to leave the household I order to remarry, she had to demand the right to extract her marital portion. In practice, she seldom got anything other than what she had brought in….according to the Law of the Realm 1442” (86).
I identify eighteenth-century masculine violence grounded in disfranchising women’s inborn rights of owing property in and outside marriage. Women’s job opportunities were expropriated by men. And women’s rights of inheritance also deprived by law. Hegemony was a favor limited to men. All in all, women were shaped into powerless passive objects,
96 Remarrying was a common issue for a widow of contemporary society. Without doubt, child is weighted as the great obstacle in the case of remarrying, self-survival or whoring trade. For instance, Roxana argued she was “expected to be starved” till her “Children were snatched from” her (110).
Chien 43 which attribute to women’s powerlessness in patriarchal economy.97 Besides, I identify that the distinction between women, property is blurred, which synchronizes the boundary
between human and non-human. Following this line of thought, I propose that the suspension of autonomy is unnatural.98 Roxana’s hostility regarding injustice-oriented matrimony compels her to make a divergence from fixed tradition, customs imposed on women. She proceeds through the role of a man-woman in sexual domain and secures self-ownership in the whoring trade.
Female Character’s Internalization of Masculinity in Roxana and Evelina In “Women in Eighteenth Century London: Female Coming of Age in Frances
Burney’s Evelina, Cecilia, and the Witlings” (2009), Kate Hamilton furnishes a shrewd remarks that the heroines in France Burney’s works “struggle to meet standards of docile femininity “and meanwhile with attempt to shape a “new standards of conduct and propriety”
(10).99 In this respect, women were compelled to live up to a singular nature under regulatory norm of dualism, namely the masculine and the feminine in eighteenth-century conventional society. In Evelina, Mrs. Mirvan is the representative of lady of delicacy. In consideration of
97 The commencement of commodification of women was revealed to be prior to the creation of Western civilization. Tacking back to the historical account of medieval romance, power-oriented marriage was established as a norm in fourteenth century.
98 Needs came into being as close as instincts (Grosz 59). In this respect, autonomy can be deemed as the basic “freedom of movement” (Grosz 59).
99 Clarissa is the story of woman of outstanding virtue and she is attacked by a “notorious sexual predator” (The Rape of Clarissa 64).
Chien 44 social expectation of female modesty, women were expected to be “perpetually out of countenance and responses to obscenity” with horror (Staves 20-1). Traditional femininity is supposedly grounded in empathy, and sensitivity and chastity (Spencer 120). Though Roxana is feminine in the eyes of her benefactors, she is masculine in mind. Roxana rejects to conform to women’s prescribed domestic roles. She displays no feminine traits and her denial of motherhood valid her want of sentimentality.100 Roxana is far from a passive creature of submissive women. Evidently, Roxana’s characterization essentially effaces the standard of femininity. Roxana breaches the decorum of femininity and modesty to the extreme. Altogether, Roxana and Evelina mirrors social oppression imposed upon women but also sketches female figures’ subversive energy in demonstrating defiance of social expectation. Furthermore, gender Subversion is not limited to Roxana’s case. Dutch Merchant is ironically the only person who shows “natural Affection of a mother” (308).101 Roxana confesses “thou it was the child of my own body; nor had I ever the hearty affection love to the child …what the reason of it was, I cannot tell; and indeed, I had shown a general Neglect of the Child”
and “often wished it would go quietly out of the world” in hoping for her blood son’s death (308-09).102
100 She objects to fulfill responsibilities to her family members and children, she abandoned family ties and
views family ties as an obstacle to her route to material success.
101 As issued by Roxana, the Dutch Merchant “ was astonished to think how” Roxana “satisfies” herself to be so
cruel to an innocent infant “ that” as to the Child” she “ was not very anxious about it”(198-99).
102 In this respect, her parental sympathy is but fraudulent. But there is an exception that she “took different Care of, and showed a different concern” for the Son she “had by the Jeweler” (309). She “provides very well for him” and “paid great attention to his education and business” and” arranged him a “excellent wife” with attempt to win the name of a benevolent mother (309).
In Evelina, the dichotomy of stereotypical traditional femininity and new standards of femininity is crystallized through the embodiment of Mrs. Mirvan and Mrs. Selwyn. Mrs. Mirvan is “gentle” and “amiable” and depicted as a true feminine character (289). And Mrs. Slewyn’s masculine is outward but Roxana’s masculinity is inward and thus the former is insinuated as “an Amazon” (E 361). In Dr. Fordyce’s sermons, he defines the nature of “an Amazon” a “masculine woman,“ literally a naturally “unamiable creature” which “never fails to be forbidding” to the men (E 361). Mrs. Selwyn has “more understanding than half her sex put together” and she is disposed to display her talented intelligence in public flagrantly, which is offensive and insulting to men’s sense of superiority (343). Thus, she evokes Dr. Fordyce’s hostile abomination. Mrs. Slewyn‘s outstanding eloquence is accused to be “intolerable” owing to her gender and her “lost” of “softness” and ”unmerciful propensity to satire” are criticized severely (269, 343-61).
In Emma: the Role of Heroine and the Role of Woman, Catherine Neale points out a penetrating argument in stating “in much of western culture, including the novels of Jane Austen, femininity is what makes a woman desirable and marriageable” and “the conventional heroine is meek” and “many of the ideal heroine’s qualities are part of what socialists call the” social construction of femininity” which is tied up to “qualities” such as “refinement, skill in activities like music and painting, quietness or submissiveness and
Chien 46 beauty” (161). Indisputably, “gentleness” is valued as a feminine “virtue,” which is “essential” to the traits of stereotypical femininity (E 269).
Roxana and Mrs. Sleywn both masculine in mind but Roxana preserves delicate ladyship in the presence of men and never called masculine by men and she is praised as the “finest women in France” (244 ).103 For instance, Roxana displays her femininity in the role of courtesan in confessing “I was all his own; that I would take all measures he should please
to direct me, to avoid the impertinent attacks of others” (69). Owing to the “Art” of a mistress, Roxana knows how to “make some Gentleman of Quality happy” and “never fail to divert them in the most agreeable Manner possible. Nor could any of them make the least particular Appreciation to me” (101, 224). Roxana serves her benefactors in a subordinate manner and practices the role of a submissive woman in expectation of material favor and she belies her contempt against men sophisticatedly. In Defoe and Economics: The Fortunes of Roxana in the History of Interpretation (1987), Bram Dijsktra furnishes a penetrating thought in perceiving Roxana acts the role of “a helpless dependent” (39). Roxana knows “how to act
the Servant’s Part” and applies a “Copy” of “Countenance” with attempt to do everything to oblige her “Master” (77). As confessed by Roxana, “when he came into my Room, I fell down at his feet…and with Words that I had prepared full of Duty and Respect, thanked him for his Bounty and Goodness to a poor desolate Woman, oppressed under the Weight of so
103 The textual evidence of Evelina would be abbreviated into E in the following papers.
Chien 47 terrible a Disaster” (61). Roxana is a chameleon and her intelligence is equipped with adaptability that she is capable of altering her conduct effortlessly.
In A literary history of women’s writing in Britain, 1660-1789 (2006), Susan Staves furnishes a penetrating remark that like “many other eighteenth-century novels,” female character like “Evelina sometimes seems to deny significant differences between its masculine ideal and its feminine ideal” (Staves 19). Evelina successfully reserves her intelligence in sight of social expectation. Evelina could be judged as a round character. Evelina is deemed as a “poor, meek, ignorant girl” from the outset but she ultimately proves to be “intelligent” that “her understanding is, indeed, excellent” (346-47). Though Evelina possesses all those conventional felinities by showing subordination to her father, she has no desire to marry, which unveils her anti-convention attitude. Besides, Evelina’s intrepidity in saving Mr. Macartney from suicide could be regarded as the compelling evidence of her anti-convention characterization (Staves 19).
Fascinated Victim Roxana: Boundary-Overlapping Between Abjection, Desire and
Significantly, Roxana confesses that she does not feel sexually exploited in the line of whoring and she coined whoring an “agreeable Crime” and “a gay wicked Course” by entitles herself to be “a Lady of Pleasure” (169, 243). Apart from virtuous account of social
discrimination, whoring is not a hardship or “horrid Course” to Roxana at all. Roxana makes a straightforward confession in stating “I had so long habituated myself to the Life of Vice that really it appeared to be no Vice to me” (229).
Significantly, abjection is conflicting zone which is above all ambiguity because it is a “composite” of “condemnation and yearning” where the self and the other are “inseparable” (Kristeva, PH 8-10). At the core, abjection features for ambiguity and perversity (Powers of Horror: An Essay On Abjection 1). Significantly, Kristeva defines one aspect of the abject as ‘jouissance,’ in which is momentum of utmost sensation (PH 14). A jouissance in which the subject is wrapped up by the second ego and “in return, keeps the subject from” sinking by “making it repugnant” from submerging “one thus understands why so many victims of abject are its fascinated victims” (Kristeva, PH 9). Roxana’s transgression of convention roots in sexual sphere, which fulfills her sexual desire and the consummation of sexual satisfactions in the stance of a horny and high-libidinous woman. Sexual discourse was a stigmatized and biased realm. Roxana keeps herself within the trade when she is immune to economic exigency. Roxana is drawn to the intoxication the taste of jouissance and repelled by the stigma of whoring identity. Puritans adhere to the self-discipline principle of ascetic but Roxana was enslaved by intoxication of sexual pleasure. In the ethos of Puritanism, it indicates that Puritans “passed laws against intoxication” (2).104
104 It is recorded in Shmoop’s Puritan Settlement in New England: Shmoop US History Guide (2010).
Jouissance is tied up to prohibition and violation and transgression. In Civilization and Its Discontents (1992), Freud articulates that “everything that is transferred from jouissance to prohibition gives rise to the increasing strengthening of prohibition” (176). In Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection (1982), Kristeva makes a pertinent point that “ a jouissance in which the subject is swallowed up but in which the Other, in return, keeps the subject from foundering by making it repugnant from foundering. One thus understands why so many victims of abject are its fascinated victims” (PH 9).
Abjection and desire both possess a rebellion momentum, which ferment the route to emancipation. Abjection “ignores borders” and rules and “drawn attention to the fragility of the law” (Kristeva 4). In this respect, the quality of abjection is essentially “rebellious, liberating” (Kristeva 1). Roxana’s desire to assume the unconventional role of man-woman and seeks sexual emancipation and frees herself from shackles of social expectation imposed upon women. Abjection is a “resurrection that has gone through death (of the ego). It is an alchemy that transforms death drives into a start of life, of new significance” (Kristeva 15). The consummation of physical and psychological desire furnishes Roxana resources of nourishment. Roxana is doomed to bear the eternal infamy of being a prostitute. In eighteenth-century society, woman who bore the label of whore were commonly pressed into suicide, which could be verified in the text of Richardson’s Clarissia.105 Abjection is
105 As shrewdly put by Eagleton, “if the general eighteenth-century trend was toward the rights of women in choosing their husbands,” Clarissa leads to a fact that patriarchal structure was still “lethally active” (16).
Chien 50 essentially the “revolts of being,” namely, “an otherness” which came into being “ceaselessly” in a “systematic quest of desire” (Kristeva 1-4). Abjection’s characteristic is a combination of “condemnation, degradation and fascination” and is shaped in the formation of a “vortex of summons and repulsion” and thereby solicits paroxysmal involuntary contradiction and “implies a refusal but also a sublimating elaboration” (Kristeva 1-7, 10).When abjection anchors on the borderline of jouissance, the abjection ironically summons dreadful pleasure
and the ambiguity and dilemma rise to peak. Evidently, the territory of abjection is wrapped up by mixed state of sublimation and devastation (Kristeva 2). Abjection is edged with the “sublime” (Kristeva 11). Sublime inspires awe and awe represents a mixed emotion of reverence and dread.
In Freud’s book A General Introduction to Psychoanalysis (1920), it verifies my assumption that sexual need is close to instinct (XXV.). Sexual drive and death drive are two limited channels to jouissance (X.). Apparently, sexual intercourse is ironically the main source of jouissance for human beings. However, sexual intercourse was a historically biased and stigmatized subject in eighteenth-century England, which conventionally tied up to shame, transgression to moral corruption, which decidedly contribute to individual’s traumatic experience in consideration of narcissistic crisis.106 At the core, sexual morality paves the way to incorrigible bondage for eighteenth-century women like Roxana My
106 It gives rise to the tangled incompatibility between sexual discourse of jouissance and the symbolic other.
argument is the overlapping of abjection, desire and jouissance frequently underpin the territory of sexual related discourse.107 Roxana’s clandestine infamous sexual experience evokes degradation, shame and unspeakable irresistible sexual satisfaction, which potentially summons energy and acts an impetus to the momentum of jouissance. I am tempted to bring Roxana’s psychological patterns into light. Roxana is besieged by her infamous jouissance-oriented and abjection-ridden whoring experience. Her sexual hunger is ironically satisfied through infamous whoring experience. In this respect, the boundary between jouissance, sexual desire and abjection are mingled, which begets perverse ambiguity, namely, the consummation of sexual desire and the intoxication-driven jouissance experience. She is thus a fascinated victim.108
Sex drive is essentially corporeal, material and productive. For instance, Roxana confesses that she “had but too much inclination to commit” sexual intercourse that she is prompted by “Fire in it, to kindle the Flame of Desire” (275). The fire Roxana refers to is a dangerous passion and thus I propose sexual desire is another form of power.109 Hence, when abjection located in the boundary of sexuality, its interruption could be more drastic, intense and recurrent. In Roxana’s case, joy, fear and tides of extreme joys concurs impetuously.
107 Adultery, role play and SM are generally insinuated to be sorts of sexual perversity.
108 The term “fascinated victim” is coined in Kristeva’s “The Power of Horror: An Essay On Abjection” (14). Sex drive is “the heterogeneous flow” inherent in the human body” (PH 10). Kristeva articulates that sex drive is “a possession previous to my advent, a being-there of the symbolic” (PH 10). Roxana is a victim of abject whose whoring experience promised her irreversible shame and the irresistible tastes of jouissance.
109 Adultery was a crime in social-cultural and religious perspective in eighteenth-century society. But adultery was a social problem which never successfully prohibited, which somehow validated the massive power of sexual desire.
Chien 52 Unquestionably, Roxana would rather confront the conflict of love and honor for the sake of taste of jouissance.
The consummation of sexual satisfactions and boundary-transgression of man-woman catalyze perfect experience of jouissance and paradoxically shape Roxana into a fascinated victim. I suppose it gives rise to the maximum momentum of jouissance in sight of the infatuation of boundary-transgression, rebellion from prohibition.
Likewise, desire endorses socially improper, repressed infatuation which counters against the social obligations and defies “the rewards and punishments” (Groze 65). Likewise, desire endorses socially improper, repressed infatuation which counters against the social obligations and expectations. Desire “cares little for social approval or the rewards and punishments” and can potentially subvert the “unity and certainty of conscious demand” and aims at obsession of its own pleasures (65). Abject “fascinates desire…nevertheless, do not
let itself be seduced…desire turns aside, sickened, it rejects” (Kristeva 1). Though her sexual liaison with the prince, whom she has the least affection to, she claims “tides of Pleasure, “literally sexual pleasure “rising to Satisfaction, and Joy“ and bring her “the most profound Tranquility“ (105).110 In Sexuality and the Symbolic Order in Jacques Lacan: A Feminist Introduction (1990), Elizabeth Groze makes a thought-provoking argument that desire located in the “structure of the wish” and desire encompasses “the elements of both need and
110 This sort of incestuous alliance can be deciphered with the textual evidence in Aphra Behn’s Love-Letters Between a Nobleman And his Sister. In Love-Letters Between a Nobleman And his Sister, the leading lady’s incestuous alliance last on the condition that dangerous tides of sexual pleasure and fear swells simultaneously. Social pressure is too weak to undermine the flame of passion, namely sexual satisfaction for the adulteress.
Chien 53 demand” (Grosz 64-5). Further, desire centers its concern on its own pleasures, which can potentially “undermines conscious activity” in pursuit of “inappropriate, repressed wishes” in which opposed by social values and laws (Grosz 65-7). Evidently, Roxana’s identity metamorphosis process offer compelling example of a boundary-overlapping. Roxana demands sexual satisfaction.
Chapter Two: Poor Women’s Anxiety of Economic Independence and the Threat of
Prostitution in Eighteenth-Century England
Since low-paying needlework can barely provide a living, marriage was decidedly women’s chief legal channel to earn economic support in the eighteenth century society.111 The husband is supposed to pay for the “mutual Subsistence of the Family” (R
305). It was a conventional norm that women pursuit the station of wife by aiming at a settled allowance or lifelong pension.112 The tragic truth is that poor women were generally
excluded from marriage market.113 Defoe’s another prostitute narrative Moll Flanders (1721) is instrumental to justify the authenticity of poor women’s plight of contemporary society. the revelation is that a wife’s dowry was measured as the husband’s property, so women who failed to provide dowry were generally excluded from the marriage market and were labeled as ”beggars” or “No Body“ in the marriage market (MF 20, 61).114 Following this line of
111 Marriage is tied up to a person’s lifetime safety and prosperity
112 Roxana contends that” I was not so poor to bind myself” to “Hardships” of marriage for a “Pension” (226). Take Roxana’s complementary prostitute narrative Moll Flanders for example. The title lady prioritizes wife over mistress because she perceives a fact that a mistress has to “lay up as much Money … for a wet Day” (MF 118, 237). As commented by Moll, “Men keep Mistress often change them, grow weary of them, or jealous of them, or something or something or other happened to make them withdraw their bounty; and sometimes the Ladies that are thus well used, are not careful by a prudent Conduct to preserve the Esteem of their Persons, or the Nice Article of their Fidelity, and then they are just cast off with contempt” (MF 118-19). Whoring trade is quintessentially a perilous and unstable career to hold.
113 Quantitative and qualitative historical proofs is available in Bridget Hill’s Women, Work & Sexual Politics in Eighteenth-Century England (1994), Bridget centers her focus on spinsters and widows’ employment in eighteenth-century England and she scrutinizes how the transfiguration of labor market cast its influence to the marriage market.
114 For instance, as a domestic servant, Amy” never had been a Bride in her Life” (78). In contemporary society, Women outside the elite circle had the necessity to get married, owing to the restricted means to earn a living. In Rosemary Sweet and Penelope Lane’s cooperated book Women and Urban Life in Eighteenth-Century England: On the Town (2003), it provides a wealth of specific historical-stoical evidence that “average age of marriage among servants was considerably higher (5). In Susan’s case, I would like to venture my thought that domestic
thought, I recognize poor-women’s course of self-sufficiency was tied up labor market and
social crime. Excluded from the marriage market and coerced by dire condition of upcoming
starvation, poverty-stricken women were usually driven to swallow illegal but profitable
practices such as infamous whoring and life-risking practice of thievery or domestic
service.115 Roxana for example, she substitutes whoring for marriage in face of upcoming
starvation. Roxana repeatedly accuses her criminal life experience to the evil of
circumstance.116 Roxana tends to defend her infamous life experience in making a point her”
circumstance” is her “temptation” that she is “next to begging” before she yields to whoring
(78).117 Roxana asserts
I was not in a condition to help myself, and that without some Assistance, we must all perish: I told them that if I had had but one child, or two children, I would have done my endeavor to have worked for them with my needle, and should only have come to beg them to help me to some work, that I might get our bread by my labor…and at a loss where to get employment…that was not a
servants were generally orphaned girls or poor widow of the time.
115 In the abstract of Shelley Tickell‘s “The Prevention of Shoplifting in Eighteenth-Century London” (2010), it furnishes first-hand study of the social facts of eighteenth-century London and it validates the facts that thievery was an epidemic crime on a collective level.
116 Roxana’s argument has something to do with the school of thought of naturalism, in which suggesting the
harshness of circumstances brutalized characters by sordid subjects, such as poverty or starvation.
117 Whoring trade was a dreadful alternative for women who were pressed by approaching starvation. Supposedly, Roxana used to hold the idea that a woman should never kept for a mistress that had Money to keep herself before she commits the whoring trade. Roxana used to be a woman who would “rather to die” and “perished of meer Hunger” than “to prostitute her Virtue and Honor” (62-3). As a high-end courtesan-mistress, Roxana is always given a choice to quit whoring trade or not. Living like a queen” on a material level, Roxana is given an “opportunity to have quitted a Life of Crime and Debauchery” (199).
Town where much work was to be had (48, 58)118
To a large extent, desperate women who were pressed by upcoming starvation were left to choose whether to live with shame or die with honor. The former was a more popular alternative for deplorable female characters in Defoe’s prostitute narrative Roxana and Moll Flanders. Being a lustful woman, Roxana perceives economic anxiety of possible starvation is more dreadful than sexual exploitation. And wanting of bread is more appalling than want of virtue for Roxana. For Roxana, the pent-up fear and anxiety of starvation is more unbearable than the terror of public accusation.
As asserted by Roxana, “the Terrors “of upcoming starvation is “blacker” than the terror of sexual harassment and she perceives starvation is “the Utmost Distress” on earth (45, 78).
I endeavor to confirm the authenticity of women’s plight of the time by resorting to historical social observation.119 In The Making of the English Middle Class: Business, Society, and Family Life in London, 1660-1730 (1989), Earl exhibits historical document that single women’s living condition of the time were not good because women were the “majority “ of the poor who were not able to pay the tax (167).120 As
118 Roxana asserts that her children were being young too and” none of them big enough to help one another
119 Women’s social and economic conditions were worsened because of deprivation of honest working opportunities. Gentlemen were disposed to shape their wife into idle wife. Women of the time received better education but the courses for women’s education were limited to moral development, which was not helpful to the knowledge of practical affairs. Therefore, women in general had no background knowledge to run the business. In this approach, Roxana’s argument of necessity of whoring is validated. To sum up, bunches of criticisms furnish some historical justification of necessity of whoring of contemporary society.
120 Specific historical clear proofs can be verified in the abstract of Amy Louise Erickson’s “Married Women’s Occupations in Eighteenth-Century London” (2008), she documents compelling evidences given by criminal court, which verifies an indisputable fact that all London wives were participated in gainful occupations in the eighteenth century. Besides, in The Invisible Woman (2005), Baudin offers historical evidence in asserting that
asserted by Roxana, “people of Paris, especially the women, are the most busy and impertinent inquirers into the conduct of their neighbors, especially that of a single woman” because women were sensitive to the social corruption of the time (69). In Thomas Broughton’s famed book Serious Advice and Warning to Servants (1746), Baudin offers the social-economic facts that the urban economy promise chances for married and unmarried women but women also under the “risk” of “prostitution“ (102). Earl shows specific historical proofs that ”contemporary data suggesting that some ten to twenty percent of widows and single women were living well by running households in London”
(166). I would like to venture the thought that those houses were quintessentially
brothels. Moll Flanders furnishes “strange Testimony of the growing Vice of the Age”
(169).121 Flanders asserts that poor women were generally predicated to be a “Dear Whore,” literally, “Person of ill Fame” (MF 11, 31).122 Flanders’s “New Governess” is the” owner of ill-house” literally brothel (MF 169). Flanders confessed that “[her new governess] has no less than Twelve Ladies of Pleasure brought to Bed within doors” and she states” I think she women’s job offer was traditionally a “necessarily home-based” but in the cities commerce was their milieu “in
the “trading networks” (103). In Rosemary Sweet and Penelope Lane’s cooperated book Women and Urban Life in Eighteenth-Century England: On the Town (2003), it provides a wealth of specific historical-stoical evidence pertaining to women’s job offer in labor market. It denotes that “the changes in agricultural employment in many areas “were” push factors “which diminished the demands for female agricultural labor “and” domestic service was the way in which most females moved to urban areas and increased their chances of making shift” and “allowed women relative economic independence and enabled them to exercise a higher degree of autonomy over their own lives than in rural society” (5).
121 The textual evidence of Moll Flanders would be abbreviated into MF in the following papers.
122 Born in poverty in Newgate Prison and abandoned as a baby at six months old, Flanders lives a life of
criminal into wealthy penitent as the story grinds to end. She in total lives twelve years a whore, five times a
wife and twelve years a thief, and eight years a transported felon in American’s colony Virginia. Flanders is fully aware of her criminal life experience and thus she claims that” My true name is so well known in the Records or Registers at Newgate, and in the Old Bailey, and there are some things of such consequence still depending
there, relating to my particular conduct, that it is not to be expected I should set my name or the account of my family to this work” (MF 11).
Chien 58 had Two and Thirty, or thereabouts, under her Conduct without Doors…it shocked my very Sense, I began to nauseate the place I was in, and above all, the wicked Practice” (169). Significantly, the “new Governess” confessed that she “makes no Profit of the Lodgers Diet, nor indeed could she get much by it,” thereby her “Profit” lays in “whoring account” by promoting “encouragement to the Vice” (168-69). Likewise, Roxana claims that her whore-house “could be found in all Paris” which is designed with “having a way out into
three streets, and not overlooked by any neighbors” so the adultery can “pass without Observation” (102). Spinsters had “a rather more important role in the London business world than one might expect, being over ten percent of the sample and probably more, as
many of the unspecified businesswomen were probably spinsters” and “ widows quite clearly dominate the female property market, especially the ownership of houses” (Earle 169). It is an undeniable fact that social crime was severely rampant.123
Domestic services relieved poor women’s sudden economic pressure. But the domestic servants fall prey to the threat of prostitution once their master demand sexual request to them. Susan and her younger sister were “kept” by their aunt but” their aunt used them barbarously (231):
[Susan’s aunt] made them little better than servants in the house, to wait upon her and her children, and scare allowed them clothes to wear …as soon as they were
123 In Women, Work & Sexual Politics in Eighteenth-Century England (1994), Bridget Hill centers her focus on the transfiguration of labor market of spinsters and widows’ employment and its influence to the marriage market (67).
Chien 59 able to go out and get any work they went from her and some said that she had turned them out of the doors…she used them so cruelly that the left her…and [became a] Chamber-Maid…(231)
In a sense, the “Poor Girls” are “turned out to the wide world” (237). Domestic servants were
situated in the lowest-stratum. Hence, their vulnerable victimized position was assured. In The Invisible Woman (2005), Baudin additionally addresses that “conduct writers warn of the dangers of servants. Of the likelihood that maidservants who leave their places will turn to prostitution” (140). In this respect, domestic servant’s disarming position and immobile passivity are validated. For instance, the domestic servant Amy undergoes domestic sexual
violence repeatedly.124 She is keenly aware that once she refused the masters’ sexual request, she is on the verge of being dismissed from the house and exposed to the danger of starvation or prostitution. Without doubt, Amy is debauched and recruited into prostitution owing to Roxana’s compulsion. Roxana informs Amy” Nay, you Whore…if I woul’d put you to-Bed, you would with all your heart” and she confesses that “I thought myself a whore, I cannot say but that it was something designed in my Thoughts, that My Maid should be a Whore too,
and should not reproach me with it” (81). In this respect, the bawdy Roxana intentionally transforms Amy into a whore, to be her counterpart. Roxana confessed that
I fairly strip her…and thrust her in…I was now become the Devil’s Agent, to
124 Since Amy is off-stage, Roxana is privileged to scapegoat Amy for her crime.
Chien 60 make others as wicked as myself, I brought him to lie with her again several times after that… thus I had indeed, …encouraged them both, when they had any Remorse about it, and rather prompted them to go on with it, than to
repent of it. (81-3)
In this scene, Roxana embodies an ominous image that she acts as the “Devil’s Instrument” to” prostitute” Amy and forces Amy into her “Ruin” (164). Roxana’s soul is decidedly stained. Roxana confesses that she is Amy’s “wicked Example” by “enticing” Amy into the “Sin”
(164). Significantly, Amy’s master does not limited to Roxana alone. Amy is a servant to Roxana as well as to the landlord-jeweler after Roxana’s sexual alliance with the landlord.125 Amy is pressed to “lain with her Master,” because the landlord is Amy’s supreme master (R
169). Amy and Susan both take the role of domestic servant and thus Susan might be the victim who undergoes the threat of prostitution.
Poor women’s economic plight was dramatically aggravated in acknowledgment of the erosion of female’s honest industries, namely needlework in the occurrence of industrial revolution around 1700.126 Needlework was a barely approachable job offer. Women’s
125 Margaret Radin offers an informative point that “in the modern world, prostitution clearly functions” as “contested commodity, comparable to other troubling exchanges such as surrogate motherhood, the sale of human body parts (Infamous Prostitution in Eighteenth-Century British Literature and Culture 20). Women who commit whoring are not” coerced” direct threats but by “lack of alternatives (owing to both individual situations and general economic and demographic conditions” (Karras 48).
126 Female’s chief working opportunities of needlework were greatly diminished and substituted by machine in the wake of industrial Revolution in England which began in 1700. Hence, Poor women’s limited channel of earning a living was greatly undermined. Further historical evidence can be secured through Pete Earle’s “The female labor market in London in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries” (1989). In Rosemary Sweet’s Women and Urban Life in Eighteenth-Century England: on the Town (2003), Sweet provides a wealth of historical-social evidences that “typical feminine trades, associated with nurturing and homemaking…activities were domestic, small-scale…often involving manual dexterity, with little need for, or
Chien 61 working opportunities were expropriated in the rise of industrial revolution. I identify that poor women’s economic exigency, anxiety of survival and phobia of starvation came in tow. Women’s anxiety of self-survival and economic constraint in the eighteenth-century patriarchal society can also be fully detected by eighteenth-century novelist’s fictions, ranged from Daniel Defoe’s Moll Flanders, Jane Austen’s Emma (1987), Samuel Richardson’s Pamela (1914) and Clarissa; or, The history of a young lady (1950); to Mary Wollstonecraft’s Maria : or, The wrongs of woman (1975). Joyce Burnette’s in-depth research book Gender, Work and Wages in Industrial Revolution Britain offers historical specific compelling statistical and anecdotal proofs of women’s disadvantaged working condition in terms of women’s restricted earning-means and low-paying jobs during the period of Britain’s industrialization. The evidence ranged from census documents, trade directories, government files, personal memoirs to existing histories of women and work. In Rosemary Sweet and Penelope Lane’s cooperated book Women and Urban Life in Eighteenth-Century England:
On the Town (2003), the authors argues that “economic expansion privileges the male experience over the female” (6). Likewise, as aptly put by Terry Eagleton, eighteenth-century England underwent a transitional belt but social emancipation tragically “deadlocks with a still vigorous patriarchal tyranny” (16).The low-paying job pressed female workers to the
evidence of, their intellectual input. This was undoubtedly the case for the majority of working women but middling sort businesswomen were not the majority of female population…in the case of middling sort business women, their ownership of the means of subsistence put them in a different economic and social category from the laboring poor “ (98-9). In the wake of industrial revolution, many man-made offers were replaced by machines. In Robert E. Lucas, Jr.’s words in Lectures on Economic Growth (2002) “for the first time in history, the living standards of the masses of ordinary people have begun to undergo sustained growth … Nothing remotely like this economic behavior has happened before” (109-10).
Chien 62 verge of starvation and to the verge of potential threat prostitution. The historical evidence came into revelation that the market was not essentially a free market because job offers were heavily monopolized by men. I propose that poor women’s further disadvantaged working condition, coupled with the etiquette of the time ascribe to the rampant whoring trade of contemporary society. Poor women undeniably epitomized powerless race in sight of their social-economic power. Indisputably, social injustice and oppression imposed upon women did not lessen in the transitional belt of England.
Juxtaposition of Marital Narrative and Prostitute Narrative in Colonial context I am motivated to elaborate the issue of gender identity on the scale of colonial
ideology. The construction of gender hierarchy and race hierarchy both operate social normality of exploitation of the weaker.127 Race is a synonym for gender and thus I am tempted to decipher the marital narrative and prostitute narrative Roxana into a colonial context.128 For instance, Roxana compares the wife to a slave and a prisoner and the husband to the role of monarch in terms of colonial discourse (207).129 In this respect, the wife embodies the inferior other, namely, the colonized other in the matrimonial system and the husband signals the colonizer. Women or slaves are essentially the same thing in recognition
127 Taken together, exploitation ideologies pave the way to racial, sexual exploitation and gender exploitation in
all aspects. Under this condition, women and slavery are the oppressed groups
128 Significantly, Roxana epitomizes the colonizer party and colonized other when she wears the Turkish dress. Roxana’s Turkish dress is the costume of the Turkish slave. She is the colonizer and the colonized when she situated in different positions.
129 In’s Puritan Settlement fin New England: Shmoop US History Guide, it shows the facts that “…thought women were deemed the spiritual equals of men” Puritan women’s female role was inferior to men on the ground that puritan’s minister such as John Winthrop argued that the “liberty for a woman” associate with “subjection to her husband’s authority” and “some correction was deemed appropriate if wives violated their husband’s sense of suitable conduct “ (18).
of their want of autonomy.
Colonial exploitation and male exploitation are both grounded in exploitation ideology. At bottom, exploitation ideologies classify the world into the oppositional poles over the method of dichotomy: the low and the high, the masculine and the feminine, namely, the colonizer and the colonized other, the oppressor and the oppressed.130 Sovereignty and power are monopolized by the dominant party. In eighteenth-century England, sovereignty was the men’s thing and women had to bear servility and subjugation.131
Property Marriage in Early eighteenth-Century England
Marrying for economic concern was justified and ritualized as a norm and marrying for love was barley happening for women. Nevertheless, I identify property marriage dramatically commercialized marriage affair. I aim to critique the interrelationship between female’s sexual exploits and entrenched commercial marriage. Property marriage and commercial marriage is essentially the same which furnishes a framework of legalized covert prostitution under the shelter of law, which casts defilement to the scared system if love is
130 Altogether, the social normality of hierarchy ideology hinges on dichotomy of binary contraries. The hierarchy structure is fundamentally tyrannical. Roxana’s Turkish dress is given by the French Prince. And thus it hints to the embodiment of two cultures, the combination of the colonizer and the colonized. Turkish dress came into Roxana’s hands by a “Malthese Man of War,” which had captured as s a Turkish ship and Turkish dress is gained by a slave’s rich cloth during her tour of Italy (173-74). In detail, the “dress was extraordinary fine indeed … the Robe was a fine Persian, or India Damask … embroidered with Gold, and set with Pearl in the Work, and some Turquois stones” (174). Roxana markets herself with the Turkish dress in English court and the exotic dress of the colonized slave absurdly stimulates her ambition to transcend her social class.
131 Male exploitation is based on gender hierarchy and colonial exploitation is grounded in race hierarchy.
Chien 64 excluded from the affair of marriage proposal.132 I recognize that property marriage revolves around the entanglement of commercial sexuality within the supposedly sacred matrimonial system.133 I propose marriage should be the foundation of divine union of mutual love and marrying for economic concern makes marriage a foundation of infamous commerce.134
I assert Defoe discerns the disgrace of property marriage. Rooted in Puritanism, Defoe is more disposed to renounce this corrupted norm of the age. Defoe discerns and cast denunciation to the disgrace of property marriage by issuing social commentary. In Defoe’s his essay “Conjugal Lewdness or, Matrimonial Whoredom (1727), which is modified into” A treaties Concerning the Use and Abuse of the Marriage Bed, ” Defoe casts severe hatred against the justified norm of property marriage that he asserts that anyone who ventures into the matrimony with slight affection is much like legal prostitutes (199). Defoe claims commercial marriage as the most provoking crimes on earth and marriage without love is the falsehood of marriage, and is utterly unlawful (286).135 In this respect, who prioritizes
132 Roxana and Flanders’ bourgeois experience is tied up to criminal sexual adventures. Poor women are pressed to be a prostitute by living with irreversible shame or being a thief, risking their life for food necessities in response of dreadful starvation.
133 I would say once wife or prostitute is equally the same thing on the ground that men provide financial
support and women offers sexual service.
134 She sketches her husband in stating” I choose him for being a handsome jolly fellow” (4). But Roxana asserts that her first marriage “was the Foundation of [her ruin]” (39). When it comes to marriage,” love” would be the only factor which entices well-off women into marriage. Tricked once on love’s account, Roxana address “the Subject of Love” with contempt that affection is “ a Point so ridiculous to me[ her] ” (225). Roxana “construct[s]” Dutch merchant’s “love” manifesto “quite another way” and suspects he “aim[s] at the Money” and supposes his “Project of coming-to-bed” is a “Bait” in stating” ” I believed, if it had not been for the Money, which he knew I had, he would never have desired to marry me after he had lain with me; For, where is the Man that cares to marry a Whore, though of his own making” (177-82, 184). Roxana takes role reversal that she practices” high Professions of Affections” that she “pretends” to “oblige” her male customer in expectation of material rewards (73). The Dutch Merchant claims “marriage was decreed by Heaven,” which “God has appointed for Man’s Felicity and for establishing a legal Posterity” (191).
135 It is an established fact that social stratum was inflexible before eighteenth-century and property was the main concern in marriage affairs.
Chien 65 anything above love in case of marriage affair is a prostitute. I recognize that Defoe pardons the immorality of whoring if the convict is pressed by pressure of self-survival but he casts sharp social denunciation against sexual trade’s encroachment of marriage system by defending the divine matrimonial system. Roxana commits matrimonial whoredom by her second marriage, which is chiefly grounded in practical considerations rather than love. In
this respect, Roxana extends free trade in posing gross menace to the supposedly sacred marriage institution.136
Self-centered capitalist of the time did make marriage system a marketplace and fraud and deception was rampant. As critics have point out, marriage was a steppingstone for people outside the elite circle to climb up the social ladder. For instance, Roxana confesses that she declines Dutch Merchant’s marriage proposal by viewing “twenty Thousand Pound… too dear a great deal” to buy herself a “Lodging” and she confesses her “objection” to marriage proposal anchors on upon the “account” of “ money” (183-86, 197). Roxana argues that her “admirers” are” attracted by the money” and she is ironically the salve of money too (59).
136 After decades of whoring, Roxana lives like a queen on a material level, but still her second marriage is inflamed in expectation of interest return.
Chapter Three: Roxana’s Anxiety over Public Identity: Criminal Identity, the Violence of
Abjection and Child-Murder in Roxana
Roxana is keenly aware of the unbidden accusation of her criminal identity and thus has a “strong Inclination to “absolve” herself “upon the easiest Penance” in the role of a defendant (104). As aptly put by Ruth Mazo Karras in Common Women: Prostitution and Sexuality in Medieval England (1996), “men prostitution sometimes substituted for marriage as a sexual outlet” (48). Roxana claims herself a “protestant whore” and she holds a firm attitude that she “has a mind to gratify herself” by means of “entertain[ing] a Man, as a Man does a Mistress,” by engrossing sexual indulgence in the role of man-woman (188). Roxana confesses that” I could not without blushing” that she “loved “to stick to whoring trade” for the sake of vice “literally sexual satisfaction and thus she is” delighted in being a whore”
(244). In chapter three, I anchor on J. Kristeva, Freud, Elizabeth Groze and Jacques Lacan’s informative psychoanalytic theory to unmask and scrutinize the manifestation of uncanny boundary-overlapping between sexual desire, abjection and jouissance by psychologizing the title lady of Roxana. The tumultuous boundary-blurring between abjection and jouissance signals the ambiguous infusion between horror, pleasure and pain, complicates the tricky and enigmatic overlapping between abjection, sexual desire and jouissance. Roxana has been lived in Plenty and good Fashions (46). Roxana’s conceited self is overt in her self-narrative:
Chien 67 Being French Born, I danced, as some say, natural, loved it extremely, and sung well also, that, as you will hear, it was after wards some Advantage to me: with all these things, I wanted neither Wit, Beauty, nor Money. In this Manner, I set out into the World, having all the Advantages that any Young Woman could desire…and form a happy Living to myself. (39)
Her superego is manifested in her manifesto as the “finest women in France” (244). In Leo Abse’s The Bi-Sexuality of Daniel Defoe: A Psychoanalytic Survey of the Man And His Works (2006), it noted that “Freud has noted that men are frequently attracted to such women of narcissistic tendencies that men are disposed to “see in these women a successful narcissistic integrity which they themselves have not be able to achieve…Roxana can lure them, for she achieve a rare seductive narcissistic autonomy…She becomes charming and desirable, a femme fatale (258). It might appropriate her role of a fascinated victim.
Roxana’s bourgeois experience furnishes a perfect framework for mediation of how a whore’s criminal identity begets phobia of shame and violence of abjection. When it comes to traumatic past experience, it is pertinent to put Freud’s psychological into contemplation. Abjection is an “otherness “to the self and “a terror to superego, challenge or crush its superego (Kristeva 4). Roxana desires sexual transgression and excessive sexual satisfaction but it also terrified her and haunted by self-contempt by perceiving herself a prostitute.
Roxana’s fervent desire of title of gentlewomen also unveils her inner desire to shrink
Chien 68 from her traumatic past experience. In Beyond the Pleasure Principle (1987), as ssubtly observed by Freud, people revisits traumatic past experience with “irresistible” repetition of “instinctual compulsion” (282-83). Indeed, the forgotten trauma is supposedly the repressed. Roxana confesses that “the Reflections “ upon her past life were “ so much the more afflicting” that she declares “I looked back upon, the more black and horrid they appeared, effectually drinking up all the Comfort and Satisfaction…all those wicked things have been known too, which I now began to be very ashamed of “ (287-94, 306). Repression of troubled past memories is out of instinctual compulsion to ward off pain and wounded feeling.137 Roxana assert that “according to my own way of arguing, it might die out of memory, and I might never meet with it again to my disadvantage” (163). It is necessary to approach the issue with Sigmund Freud’s psychosocial understanding.138 Roxana re-lives the memories of repressed traumatic history repeatedly and compulsively in a state of hallucination or not or
as a contemporary experience. Fred asserts that “the patient does not remember anything of
what he has forgotten and repressed, he acts it out, without… knowing that he is repeating it”
(28).139 This conception was further developed in Freud’s essay “Beyond the Pleasure
137 It is a verified fact that the victim certainly remembers the wounded troubled events and the perpetrator of the vice let go off the events in an easier pace.
138 The concept came into being in Sigmund Freud’s article Erinnern, Wiederholen und Durcharbeiten (1914).
139 It is quoted from Janet Malcolm’s Psychoanalysis: The Impossible Profession (1981). Freud ‘s suggests that the compulsion to repeat is more primitive than the pleasure principle. In the second edition of 1921, Freud extends his argument in stating repetitions “are of course the activities of instincts intended to lead to satisfaction; but no lesson has been learnt from the old experience of these activities having led only to unpleasure” (292). In On Psychopathology (1987), Freud forms a new argument on “the power of the
Chien 69 Principle, “which contradicts the principle of quest for pleasure (1920). For instance, the dreams occur in “traumatic neuroses “rather than “healthy past” (282-83). Freud theorized
that individuals are disposed to upset at the lost object and attempt to master the sensation of loss by re-enacting the scenes (285-308).140Freud generalizes a more convincing argument in stating the compulsion to repeat is more “primitive” than the pleasure principle (286). Freud points out a penetrating argument that compulsion of repeating former wounded experience is coupled with a motive to “master” the original trauma and turn its victimized passive role
into active position, a desire to reverse the trauma case (285-94).141 Roxana is the wounded
subject placed in a passive position “but by repeating it, unpleasurable for the ego, she” took
on an active part” (285). Roxana’s desire of becoming a man-woman witnesses her drastic
anger to triumph over her former victimized role of weak passive creature into an autonomy
powerful oppressor.142 Roxana claims woman was” born free” and her motivation of
becoming a “ Man-Woman” is to enact her self-proclaimed rights of a “free Agent”
(187). Roxana’s anti-convention resolution signals her desire of anti-discrimination.
Roxana’s identity ranged from the “finest women in France, ” common whore,”
and “Baronet’s Lady in England” and a “ Countess in Holland” to “ the most cursed Piece of
compulsion to repeat “as “the attraction exerted by the unconscious prototypes upon the repressed instinctual
140 Freud also introduces a conception named “destiny neurosis,” which is manifested in “the life-histories of men and women…[as] an essential character-trait which remains always the same and which is compelled to find expression in a repetition of the same experience” (293).
141 Though it contradicts Freud’s former theory of principle of pleasure, it turns out to be more convincing.
142 David Blewett argues that Roxana is “Defoe’s darkest novel” and perceive Roxana remains “passive in the face of disaster,” which is in stark contrast to my viewpoint.
Chien 70 Hypocrite” to a “she Devil” in her own terms ( 244-85; 337-48). Aside from this, she taunts her former of Roxana as “a Public Mistress or a Stage-Player” (350). Her mind is fragmented into two oppositional poles. Roxana hovers between her real and false identity and thus her false self-fashioned identity proves too fragile to hold onto. She admits that her “whole Conversation for twenty five Years had been black as Hell, a Complication of Crime” (348).
In the light of the theory in Kristeva’s essay “On the Melancholy Imaginary”, abjection is a “bad ego” which is destructive to destroy the self (Kristeva 6). Roxana titles Amy as the “Skin” of her “back” in claiming “Poor Amy! What art thou, that I am not?” (59,
164). Roxana perceives Amy as her “Right-Hand” who scapegoats all Roxana’s hideous and gruesome desires and “violence of her passion” (366-77).143 As In this approach, I take a step further in proposing Amy as Roxana’s s primitive bad ego. Roxana claims’ Amy’s augment in documenting “ I will be the death of her for-all, and then I should be sober again…I will put you out of your pain and her too” and Roxana suggests that she “ began to see that [Amy]
was in earnest” (319). Roxana insists “Amy effected all afterwards, without [her] knowledge”
(350). In this respect, Amy is Roxana’s shadow or projection. In “On the Melancholy Imaginary,” Kristeva presupposes” the mechanism of identification in the interrelationship between depression, wounded ego, and the interplay between the self and the other in the narcissistic context (14). Roxana confessed that she “looked back former things with
143 Likewise, Roxana admits that “[Susan] was the very counterpart of [herself]” (378).
Chien 71 Detestation and with the utmost Affliction, and…those reflections began to prey upon [her] own Comforts, and lessen the Sweets of [her] other Enjoyment: They might be said to have gnawed a Hole in my[her] Heart before; but now they made a Hole quite thro’ it; now they
eat into all [her] pleasant things…not all the things we call Pleasure can give [her]any relish… [she] grew sad, heavy, pensive, and melancholy; slept little, and eat little…my husband…did everything that lay in his power, to comfort and restore me; strove to reason me out of it; then tried all possible ways to deliver me, but it was all to no purpose” (310).144 Roxana claims “I had neither Life or Soul left in me” (367). Following this line of thought, Roxana is enslaved by neurosis in acknowledgment of her maudlin, gloomy tendency. In Kristeva’s theory, abjection is placed in the imaginary border, in-between the other and the self. Abjection is an ambiguity-driven unstable mobile territory, which situated in the “ambiguous opposition I/ other” and “ambivalent, a heterogeneous flux marks out the territory” which incites intense formidable violence to the self (Kristeva 7-10). Hence, I hypothesize that when the boundary between the self and the other is attacked by the impetus of abjection, the self is subject to identity crisis.
I identity that whore identity and beggar identity are the other dwelt in Roxana in the name of alter ego, which wounds and scatters her primitive ego. Whore identity absolutely gives rise to her victimhood. Abjection is the “precondition of the narcissism”
144 Roxana confesses that “if Providence had not relived me, I should have died in little time” (311).
Chien 72 (Kristeva 13). Roxana desires “nobler Objects,” such as title and “attracted by a Person of Honour and a Person of a very great Estate” (242). She desperately infatuated with
aristocratic privilege, namely, the glamour of loyalty to soothe her hidden sense of inferiority and temper the violent attack of abjection.145 Roxana claims “the Honor of having the scandalous Use of my prostituted Body, common “to Prince’s “inferiors,” which wryly recognizes herself as a common whore (110). Prince commonly crystalizes Roxana’s ideal of noble objects. Roxana is ‘dazzled” by the “notion of of being a Princess honour’d with Titles, be call’d Her HIGHTNESS” (278). Roxana claims “I had a strange Elevation upon my mind all the Great things of a Life with the Prince” (278). Whore identity is Roxana’s injured ego. Hence, Roxana claims that she resolves to put herself “into some Figure of Life,” namely, “putting a new Face” in which “might not be scandalous “to her “own Family” (249-50).146 Roxana’s bad ego, namely, her whore identity potentially inflames narcissistic crisis.147 Abjection is “a kind of narcissistic crisis, namely, narcissistic perturbation“(Kristeva 14). By burying her dreadful abjection, Roxana cloaks her clandestine whore identity and past temporary but traumatic identity of a beggar. Roxana’s begging experience is her first and utmost traumatic experience. Roxana remarks that “Amy who knew my disease” (239).
145 After Dutch Merchant fulfills Roxana’s wish of becomin a Lady of “Countess” she perceives herself” in the height “of her” Glory and Prosperity,” being “call’d the Countess and was called “every Your Honour at every word” (284, 307). In this respect, public “Respect” is the “Glory” she seeks for her lifetime (284, 307).
146 As shrewdly perceived by Roxana, “once fall, and ever undone, one in the Ditch, and die in the Ditch” (133). R is fully aware that her lost-virtue can never be redeemed and but she determined to “thrown off” the “Scandal of” of her sexual transgression (251).
147 Abjection “persists” as “exclusion” (Kristeva 17). Hence, abjection is a reduction of self.
Chien 73 Roxana once honestly confessed that “ I had indeed two assistances to deliver me from this snare, and these were, first, Amy, who knew my disease but was able to do nothing to this remedy; the second, the merchant, who really brought the remedy, but knew nothing of this distemper” (257). I propose that the remedy she refers to is “honest affection” in Roxana’s term (308).148 The Dutch merchant is the only character who displays parental and feminine sympathy to the unborn-child. He proposed to Roxana persistently with attempt to “prevent the Scandal which would otherwise have fallen upon the Child, who was itself, innocent”
(309). It is an established fact that the bastard is doomed to “suffer for the Sin of its Father and Mother” (308).
Roxana confesses that the “Apprehension” of the “Return” of “dreadful “terrors of
“poverty” makes her “Heart Tremble” (73). The tragic truth creeps in that Roxana is
frightened with the Prospect of Beggary from the outset and then she is chained by the fear of
exposure of her whore identity. By extricating herself from humiliation of poverty, she falls
into snare of another problematic disturbing whore identity. The repressed which she casts off
148 The Dutch Merchant is a Christian who believes in “mutual love” and “sincere affection” (191) In prostitute narrative Moll Flanders, Defoe successfully fashions Flanders into a figure of repentant whore who resorts to the sacred marriage as her life grinds to the later part. I argue that Flanders is well rewarded in the ending because she is much willing to “beg” and “starve” for love’s sake (MF 150). Further, Jeremy’s protestation of love make Flanders’s eyes” dazzled” and she confesses she states “I lost my Power of saying No” to his proposal (MF 142). In a sense, she accepts poverty is she can have true love in return. Flanders states” if he could propose any possible method of living, I would do anything that became me on my part, and that I would live as close as narrow as he could desire…I would gone with him, through the world” (MF 146-53). Flanders confesses” I abhorred the Levity and Extravagance of my former life, so I choose now to live retried, frugal, and within ourselves; I kept no Company, made no visits…this kind of Life become a Pleasure to me”(MF 189). Jemmy is privileged to take Flanders’s fortune but he “bids” Flanders to take his” though he is supposedly to the verge of starvation for want of it” in sight of possible threat of prostitution (MF 149). In this respect, Defoe softens sand balances grim themes with the embroilment of romantic sentimental elements of true affection in Moll Flanders. During the separation scene, both Jemmy and Flanders prioritize love above self-survival and self-interests. In this respect, Flanders is immune to the value system of capitalism and she picks up her former innocence back by accepting love as the rout to self-satisfaction.
under the surface keeps coming back and haunts her recurrently and uncannily. Hence, anxiety sets the tone of the text. Roxanna submits her principle of self-reliance and marries for the sake of title as a means to pacify the unremitting attack of abjection. The uncanny emergence of abjection is “inescapable, “weighty and “sudden” in the shape of “a vortex of summons and repulsions,” which is essentially an abominable “threating otherness” (Kristeva 2, 17). Roxana aims to shakes off her former victimhood by securing economic independence
but her whore identity are tied up to the label of sexual immorality and inordinate sexuality. It is a truth universally acknowledged that whoring trade is a criminalized career and a criminalized identity in consideration of social normality. A whore is definitely labeled as bawd, unscrupulous individual in sight of social expectation. Roxana is doomed to bear social taboo. Susan is recognized by Roxana as a “ a sharp Jade,“ “ passionate Wench” and “young slut” to “ passionate creature “ and she indeed name her” the Girl “ and “ my own daughter”
at times ( 313-16, 328 ). Susan is indisputably an “impertinent girl “who visits Amy and Roxana with attempt to legitimize herself as Roxana’s blood daughter (343).149
A whore is doomed to bear “shame” and be” visited in the dark; disowned upon all Occasions; before God and Man ” and “ is maintained indeed, for a time, but it certainly condemned to be abandoned at last” (R 171-86, 204). Roxana asserts “[she] was happier than I could be in being Prisoner of State to a Nobleman” than be an autonomous
149 Hence, she dare not make herself “known” to her “own Children” namely, “her own Flesh and Blood” (249). Susan cries in desperation: “She is my mother, she is my mother, and she does not own me!” (304).
Chien 75 widow and would rather “suffered [herself] to be mastered, or prevailed with, to yield in the station of a mistress in the interest of capital (207-26).Roxana asserts “ if he thought fit, I would be wholly within doors…he said he would by no means have me confined that it would injure my health…I made the house be, as it were, shut up”(69). Roxana reveals [she] could not have been perfectly easie at living in England, unless [she] had kept
constantly within-doors, lest some time or other, the dissolute Life I had lived here, should have come to be known” (293). Roxana states that “I was not afraid I should be found a-bed
with anybody else, for, I in a word, I conversed with nobody at all “so as to keep her “privacy” intact (227-28). Self-isolation appears to be her strategy to keep her infamous affairs in the closet. Roxana can never unleash her true emotion or true self because she is doomed to be a woman of secret. Roxana confesses that “I reserved the grand Secret, and never broke my Resolution, which was not to let him know my true name” (159). Roxana is a woman of
secret. She once confesses that “I have no Comforter, so I had no Counselor” in contending “I have no vent; no body to open myself to” (310-31). Roxana claims, “secrets should never be opened, without evident Utility” (375).150
Roxana’s begging experience is her first and utmost traumatic experience. Roxana
150 Roxana “ resolved to live abroad… lest [she] should at any-time be known in England, and all that Story of Roxana, and the Balls, should come out” (286). Roxana confesses that she is troubled with the “Difficulty of concealing [herself] from [her] own child, and the inconvenience of having [her] way of living be known among [her] first husband’s relations, and even to [her] husband himself” (239). As a figural narrator, Roxana is given the authority to dress her history to her advantage and at liberty to reveal and withhold the happenings at her
will, which undermines the authenticity of the narrative. Her application of digression is her strategy to leave out some hideous events. And the narratives grind to the halt abruptly in the wake of the possible events of child-murder.
Chien 76 remarks that “Amy who knew my disease” (239).151 Roxana once honestly confessed that “I had indeed two assistances to deliver me from this snare, and these were, first, Amy, who knew my disease but was able to do nothing to this remedy; the second, the merchant, who really brought the remedy, but knew nothing of this distemper” (257) I propose that the remedy she refers to is true affection. Roxana confesses that the “Apprehension” of the “Return” of “dreadful “terrors of “poverty” makes her “Heart Tremble” (73).At any rate, Roxana lives in the skin of the other. False identity is unquestionably artificial and untenable and Roxana attests the very fact that identity is potentially convertible and arbitrary. Nevertheless, the application of mask secures but slippery false identity.
Roxana keeps her true identity clandestine but she is consistently besieged by two oppositional poles. Whore identity is Roxana’s wounded ego and gentlewoman is her ideal ego. Roxana is besieged by identity displacement between whore identity and gentlewoman identity, namely, between real wounded self and infatuated ideal identity. The former denotes her private identity and the later signals her social self-fashioned identity. She lives in a life of self-deception. The gap between Roxana’s true identity and her false identity is striking and consequently the entrenched ambiguity begets violent inescapable inner turmoil and agitation. Roxana’s identity formation is trapped by the infusion and contradiction of two oppositional poles. In this respect, I identify narcissist wound coupled with double psycho
151 Roxana ironically repeatedly emphasizes that she “had no Mask” by referring to her want of make-up. It is said “everybody said she did not paint” (334).
Chien 77 might beget self-disembodying. Roxana’s public self and private self, namely, true self are totally binary. She is a disoriented entity. She is an expert of disguises either in eloquence or
in manner. Her ambivalent tones and statements are compelling evidence of her rampant lies. The ironic fact is Roxana confessed that she is “very far from knowing” herself (177). She is a missing center. Roxana is an accomplished liar but still she makes ambiguities lines from time to time. A whore is a stigmatized subject.152 The whore identity is a socially and
culturally criminalized identity, which “beyond the scope of the tolerable” (Kristeva 1). Thus Roxana is attacked by sudden and massive force of abjection and was torn by narcissistic crisis. Roxana is troubled by disgraceful label of being a lustful immoral whore and besieged by self-hatred. In this respect, Roxana embraces her enchanted identity as a revered gentlewoman partly as a means to ward off recurrent attack of dreadful abjection. Significantly, abjection and desire both revolves in the fundamental lack. Autonomy and virginity are Roxana’s lost objects and her lack and she contrives to retrieve them by embracing a self-fashioned false identity.153
Significantly, all abjection is “in fact in recognition of want” on which “desire is founded” (Kristeva 5). Gentlewoman is socially desirable. Roxana is gravitated by the aristocratic glamour and superiority of the upper-class. The identity of Gentlewoman is
152 Afflicted with mainstream discrimination and prejudice, a whore tends to degrade herself. Whoring trade is unquestionably a criminal commerce which summons social discrimination. Nevertheless, the “Reward” of prostitution promises a materially comfortable life, Roxana is motivated to make a “good Provision” and ease her economic constraint (64, 143). Roxana ironically embraces punishment in the hand of men as the story wraps up.
153 Roxana claims that autonomy is women’s inborn rights, which is disfranchised by men.
Roxana’s lifetime ardent infatuation. Roxana claims her “fancied Greatness” thrown her into a kind of Fever” and attribute to the “Effect of a violent Fermentation” in her “Blood” (79). Desire signifies fundamental lack. Hegel posits “desire as a lack and absence, “namely, “a fundamental lack, a hole in being” (Groze 64). Depression “like mourning, hides an aggressivity against the lost object” (Kristeva, MI 7). Roxana’s lost-chastity is absolutely her
fundamental lack. Roxana repeatedly asserts “with a Fool! Once fall, and ever undone” (133). So to speak, once poor and falls into whoring, her wounded-virtue is stained and irreversible. After whoring for the first time, she lost self-respect. Roxana claims her “virtue was lost before” and it makes no difference to sin on” (100). Roxana is keenly aware that her virtue Roxana indeed senses that she was “not being able to retrieve what had been in Time Past”
(348). Roxana determined to add her” Estate at the farther Expense” of her lost-chastity (212). Roxana is keenly aware that once she yields into whoring, ‘tis vain to mince the Matter” that she identified herself as “a Whore…neither better nor worse” and it “was too late to look
back, so she lay still” and keeps herself in the same sexual trade until the very last (74, 81). Roxana harbors a thought that once “ruined” forever” undone “that she is “a whore, a Slut” for good (81).
Roxana is tempted to embrace the false ideal identity of being a gentlewoman. Gentlewoman is conventionally equals to women of honor and tied up to female chastity and social superiority. Roxana is absolutely a woman of dishonor. As noted, desire is “in
principle insatiable” (Groze 67). Roxana’s instable desire at power and social standing is not a particular case but mirrors the social disease of contemporary society. It is a verified fact that Roxana is commonly accused as a promiscuous woman, who was a merciless hardhearted suspect of child-murder. Moments of horrifying self-recognition occurs abruptly. For instance, Roxana articulates” What was I a Whore now?” (201). As subtly pointed by Kristeva, abject is “a land of oblivion that is constantly remembered“ (PH 8). The “time” of abjection is “double: a time of oblivion and thunder, of veiled infinity and the moment when revelation burst forth” (Kristeva 8-9). I propose that Roxana’s thought of child-murder validate the hideous violence of abjection. Susan is Roxana’s flesh and blood but Susan’s
occurrence serves a reminiscence of Roxana’s traumatic forgotten begging experience, which strikes her like thunder. Roxana’s self-recognition of being a lustful whore annihilates her and drives her to the edge of insanity. Roxana is propelled into the margin of the abject and the imaginary border then fragmented and identity disturbance ensued. The imaginary border features for its susceptibility. Roxana’s identity crisis is ignited because her subjectivity falls into the state of volatile uncertainty. Roxana confesses that the continual talk of “the Name of Roxana” throws her into” a kind of silent Rage:
what my face might do toward betraying me, I know not, because I could not see myself , but my Heart beat as if it would have jumped out of my Month…I should have burst…for the force I was under of restraining my Passion…I was
Chien 80 obliged to sit and hear her tell the Story of Roxana…whether I was to be exposed, or not exposed. (331)
Roxana perceives Susan as the impetus to the exposure of her abjection.154 Roxana is convinced that once her whore identity exposed, her earned dignity, vanity and reputation would be wounded severely. Her abjection sparks off a train of crimes that she fall sin to a nest of vices to keep her shameful demeanor in the closet. Roxana encounters neurotic fear in the presence of Susan in her self-narrative:
If I ever had need of courage…it was now …it was the only valuable Secret in the World to me… if the girl knew me, I was undone; and to discover any Surprise or Disorder, had been to make her know me…I was once going to feign a swooning, and faint-away, and so falling on the Ground, or Floor…then pretend I could not bear the Smell of the Ship …trembled…I was in the utmost Extremity…for I was to conceal my disorder from everybody….expect everybody would not discern it.(322-24)
Roxana senses that Susan might trigger the exposure of her double psycho, which serves as a
formidable menace and disruption to Roxana’s identity formation. Roxana’s dreadful fear of
exposure is tied up to the awareness of possible exposure of shame. Roxana senses her
reputation as a benevolent Countess is in danger and once her identity of a whore discovered,
154 Susan is defined as a woman who seeks “her own Interest,” a counterpart of Roxana, which attributes to Roxana’s dreadful uneasiness (247). Generally speaking, some critics define Roxana a cautionary tale because of her involvement of child-murder.
she is doomed to swallow lifelong mortification:
there was a secret horror upon my mind, and I was ready to sink when I came close to her…yet it was a secret inconceivable Pleasure to me … to know that I kissed my own child, my own Flesh and Blood…No pen can describe, no words can express…the strange impression which this thing made upon my spirits; I felt something shoot through my blood; my heart fluttered, my head flashed, and was dizzy, and all within me. (323)
Roxana’s defensive mechanism triggers hysterical symptoms such as dizziness, tightening of breath and repulsion when she senses her second-skin, namely, her mask might be peeled off. Sigmund Freud’s A General Introduction to Psychoanalysis (1920), he denotes that neurotic fear occurs by foretelling approaching disaster or” ascribing a dreadful meaning to all uncertainty” (III.). Roxana’s reaction is a fusion of neurotic fear and resistance in executing instinctual and compulsive defense mechanism.155 In the times of identity crisis, Roxana’s sanity and rationality both crippled and gradually nullified by the momentum of abjection and she is obsessed with the monstrous thought of child-murder by executing defense mechanism. In Roxana’s case, abjection invites the devil in the minds of human beings. In this respect, when the violence of abjection rises to the peak, it potentially narcotizes human’s rationality to a destructive level. I recognize that the detrimental nature of abjection can potentially
155 Roxana falls into the snare of vices. Though Roxana remains the suspect of child-murder, I assume she directs the affair.
Chien 82 ignite human being’s bestiality and monstrosity.156 Roxana lives in the skin of the other. Roxana’s whore identity is her absolute “threatening otherness” (Kristeva 17). Roxana is arrested and besieged by disgraceful label of being a lustful immoral whore. Abjection is essentially something unspeakable and menacing (Kristeva 9).
In the final episodes of Roxana, Susan’s whereabouts is a thorny and tricky issue in the master-servant relationship between Amy and Roxana. In the master-servant relationship, Roxana’s will and order are authoritative. Susan’s death remains suspenseful and unverified. But Roxana’s confirmed belief of Susan’s death evokes suspicion of her crime and becomes an irrefutable proof of her gruesome inner thinking or heinous design. Roxana affirms Susan’s death rather disappearance because she is supposedly the one who direct the horrible event of child-murder straightforwardly.157 Roxana states “I set Amy to-work, and gave Amy her due” though she does not clarify the order (317). The Quaker perceives “ Amy had found some ways to persuade [Susan] to be quite and easie…as though she thought nothing of any evil herself” but “[Roxana’s] thought of it run otherwise (372). Roxana confides her sense of guilty once in stating ”Lord be merciful to me, [Amy] had murdered my child “and she “kicked her out of Doors “ in accusing “Amy had done it…Amy came no more to me, but
confirmed her Guilt by her Absence” (372-74).158 Indeed, Amy was “ the only body [Roxana]
156 In An Enquiry into the Origin of Moral Virtue (1723), Bernard Mandeville articulates shame evokes manifold passions, ranged from “Lust, Pride” to “Selfishness” (102). Mandeville denotes that shame signifies” Passion” too and it “over-rules our Reason, and requires as much Labor and Self-denial “to defeat it (98).
157 Roxana confesses “I saw herby Night, and by Day. She haunted my imagination…sleeping or waking, she
was with me. Sometimes I thought I saw here with her Throat cut. Sometimes with her Head cut” (374).
158 Roxana calls Amy ”thousand Devils, and Monsters, and hard-hearted Tyger” (372-74).Indeed, I propose the
Chien 83 could trust” but Roxana contrives to iron out her wrongdoings by making Amy her lifetime servant scapegoat all the crime and public shame, who had serve her for “ almost thirty Year,” in accusing Amy the perpetrator of child-murder (230). The narrative goes:
[Amy] began to think it would be necessary to murder her; That Expression filled me with Horror; all my Blood Ran chill in my Veins, and a Fit of Trembling seized me, that I could not speak a good while; at last, What is the Devil in you, Amy, Said I? Nay, nay, says she, let it be the devil or not the devil; if I thought she knew one tittle of your history I would dispatch her if she were my own daughter a thousand times. And I, says I in a rage, as well as I love you, would be the first that should put the halter about your neck and see you hanged, with more satisfaction than ever I saw you in my life. Nay, says I, you would not live to be hanged, I believe I should cut your throat with my own hand; I am almost ready to do it, said I, as ’tis, for your but naming the thing. With that I
called her cursed devil, and bade her get out of the room…tho she was a devilish Jade in having such a thought, yet it was all of it the effect of her Excess of Affection and Fidelity to me. (316)
I figure out two possibilities of the puzzle. Amy either assumes Roxana’s will mistakenly as
Roxana argued or executes Roxana’s order directly as Roxana ordained. The former can lead
“old agent” Amy’s absence is but an old strategy for Amy to scapegoat Roxana’s crime. Hence, Roxana confesses that she “left some hints for Amy too, for [she] did not yet despair of [Amy] hearing from her” (378). Without doubt, it suggests Roxana breeds such horrifying thought of child-murder or came across this idea at least once.
to Amy’s overall crime. The latter suggests Roxana’s sinister design in making Amy scapegoat the crime alone so as to dissociate herself from the crime and save her own honor. Amy is bound to scapegoat wrongdoing on behalf of Roxana and obliged to guard the Roxana’s secrecy so as to preserve the name or Honor of her master.159 At any rate, Amy is the accomplice of Roxana’s crime and Amy is unquestionably the executor or perpetrator of Roxana’s wrongdoings. As a faithful servant and Roxana’s trusted aide, Amy is willing to commit everything for Roxana’s account and “do” the crime to Roxana’s “disadvantage”
(328). Roxana remarks “if I would trusted her, as I had always done, she would answer for it, that she would do nothing but what should be for my Interests , and what she would hope I should be very pleased with” (258). Owing to the unusual affinity of their master-servant relationship, I identity that Amy follow’s Roxana’s direct order. Without doubt, Amy is Roxana’s servant and also her lifelong companion and confidant who gains access to her detailed wicked life experience and Roxana’s inner thinking and motive. For instance, Roxana gets close to Quaker with motive to assume her identity. Though Roxana does not mention her “design” to Amy, Amy reads Roxana’s mind “perfectly right” (254). Roxana is keenly conscious of her crime. When Roxana mentions about her children, she is afflicted with “some Uneasiness” because she “directed” the affair the child-murder (245).
159 Roxana claims “I never knew how it was executed, nor does Amy ever communicate it to me” (359). If Amy is the one who direct the hideous affair, Roxana has no need to please God’s mercy and acts like a criminal. Roxana states that “Lord be merciful to me” and acts “like a Mad Woman” (372).
The rise of middle class incites waves of rebellion against class hierarchy and social liberation in early eighteenth century-England. The project aims to scrutinize how the waves of class emancipation cast its influence on poor women of the time under the patriarchal social structure. Does the social momentum lead to women’s further victimhood or emancipation? I perceive the social impact is double-edged. Arising society mobility of the time sells a promising social emancipation for people outside the elite circle. Roxana digested the air of social liberation. Roxana emblematizes social climbers of the time in the role of ambition-inspired mistress-courtesan. She epitomizes the female capitalist that she wields
self-interest as her life principle fervently in all rounds. Roxana hungers for capital accusation
and noble objects, such as powerful men or title in the exchange market under the economy of capitalism. Nevertheless, Roxana fails to wield her dreamed liberty when she owns economic independence on a material level.
Roxana’s battles for the freedom but she is chained by abjection and in the grip of class awareness. She is a captive of abjection. Abjection shapes darkened souls of hardened victims. At length, her self-claimed role of free agent is but a disillusion. Roxana can be deemed as a non-conformist. She exemplifies the spirit of individualism by pursuing self-sufficiency and self-interest and self-survival. She pits against patriarchy system but she is ironically a prisoner of class hierarchy ideology. But her battle for the freedom is stained
with sexual transgression. She winds up betraying her principle of self-reliance and singlehood in the interest of class transcendence. I identify that glorified social emancipation is decidedly restricted to possible class emancipation especially for men rather than gender liberation and class emancipation was balked and incomplete. At the core, I conceive hierarchy system is more entrenched and irreversible than patriarchy ideology.
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