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The Fortunate Mistress (Parts 1 and 2) By Daniel Defoe

The Fortunate

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The Fortunate Mistress (Parts 1 and 2) By Daniel Defoe

“The Fortunate Mistress,”

also known as “Roxana: The Fortunate Mistress,” is a novel by English author Daniel Defoe, first published in 1724. The novel tells the story of a woman named Roxana, who rises from poverty to become a wealthy and influential courtesan in seventeenth-century England.

The novel is divided into two parts. In the first part, Roxana recounts her life story, beginning with her humble origins in France. She moves to England as a young woman, where she marries a drunkard who soon abandons her. Roxana turns to prostitution in order to survive, and quickly becomes one of the most sought-after courtesans in London. She eventually marries a Dutch merchant, who dies soon after, leaving her a substantial fortune.

In the second part of the novel, Roxana struggles to maintain her position of power and wealth in a male-dominated society. She becomes involved in a series of affairs with wealthy and influential men, but eventually falls on hard times and is forced to flee England with her children.

The novel is notable for its depiction of a strong, independent female character in an era when women had few rights or opportunities. Roxana is a complex character, both sympathetic and flawed. She is driven by a desire for power and wealth, but is also fiercely protective of her children and willing to do whatever it takes to ensure their survival.

Defoe’s writing is clear and direct, with a focus on realism and practicality. The novel is written in a first-person narrative style, with Roxana telling her own story in a matter-of-fact tone. This style of writing was innovative for its time and helped to establish the novel as a literary form in its own right.

One of the key themes of the novel is the relationship between money and power. Roxana’s rise to wealth and influence is driven by her ability to use her beauty and charm to manipulate men. However, she is also acutely aware of the fragility of her position, and must constantly work to maintain her status.

Another important theme of the novel is the concept of identity. Roxana is forced to adopt different identities throughout the course of the novel, both to hide her past as a prostitute and to gain access to the wealthy circles she seeks to inhabit. She is constantly reinventing herself in order to survive in a society that is hostile to women.

“The Fortunate Mistress” is also notable for its frank and open treatment of sexuality. Roxana’s life as a courtesan is portrayed in detail, and her relationships with men are depicted with a level of honesty and realism that was rare for its time.

Despite its themes and innovations, “The Fortunate Mistress” was not well-received by contemporary critics, who were scandalized by its depiction of female sexuality and its lack of moralizing. However, the novel has since become recognized as a landmark work of English literature, and is considered an important early example of the novel as a form. Defoe’s vivid portrayal of a strong, independent female character has also made the novel a popular subject for feminist literary criticism.

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