Waifs in Literature in the Research Paper

Total Length: 1992 words ( 7 double-spaced pages)

Total Sources: 4

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Oliver went home with the elderly gentleman and his family and for the first time in his life, Oliver found himself in a situation where someone cared for him.

Oliver's moral character was somewhat better than Moll's. Despite the fact that he had no moral guidance, he recognized that stealing was wrong. Dickens writes,

What was Oliver's horror and alarm as he stood a few paces off, looking on with his eyelids as wide open as they would possibly go, to see the Dodger plunge his hand into the old gentleman's pocket, and draw from thence a handkerchief…in an instant, the whole mystery of the handkerchief, and the watches, and the jewels, and the Jew, rushed upon the boy's mind (82).

Moll, on the other hand, turned to theft deliberately when she was too old to turn the heads of men. Unlike the young Oliver who was too young to contemplate the future, Moll was well aware of the dire situation that she was in. She had qualms about turning to a life of crime at first, mostly because of her fear of being caught rather than out of any moral scruples, but she stated, "But my own distresses silenced all these reflections, and the prospect of my own starving, which grew every day more frightful to me, hardened my heart by degrees" (171).

Stealing was never an issue with Joseph Andrews. Things were stolen from Joseph on occasion, such as on page 42 where he was accosted by thieves who "stript him entirely naked, threw him in a ditch, and departed with their booty.
" Joseph himself was a moralistic individual who did not steal from others. He wrote to his sister from the inn after having been beaten and asked her, "What but innocence and virtue could give any comfort to such a miserable wretch as I am?" (48). Regardless of the situation, Joseph sought first to preserve his morality.


In the end, Moll's character was the most deeply affected by the lack of family and friends, perhaps because hers was not a temporary plight but a life sentence. She was born an illegitimate foundling and spent her adult life bouncing from one relationship to another with no firm sense of security or stability. Her rootless existence caused her to make self-destructive choices. Oliver's character was affected deeply by his suffering, but unlike Moll, his suffering ended when he was permanently reunited with his biological family. Out of all three of the characters, Joseph was the least affected. Although he was raised by a family other than his biological parents, he was still loved and cherished by those around him.

Works Cited

Defoe, Daniel. Moll Flanders. New York: Penguin Group, 1996. Print.

Dickens, Charles. Oliver Twist. New York: Peebles Press International, n/d. Print.

Fielding, Henry. Joseph Andrews. United States: Martin C. Battestin, 1961. Print.

Gast, M.A. Nicole. Marriages and the Alternatives….....

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