Dig into the data of Roxana

I was trying to read this book in the past week, English is my second language, so it is naturally my first time to know this book. I was easily confused with the numbers of everything, to make myself more clear about the story; I have made a chart to show some trackable data in the story.

Background colour means different location, Red means the UK, Blue means France, Green means Italy, and Orange means Holland.

Roxana chart

About how much money does Roxana own in various period of her life, all interests are calculated as 10% of the property and shown as property in the chart, we can see after her fist failure marriage, every single relationship brings her more fortune:

1.”At about fifteen years of age, my father gave me, as he called it in French, 25,000 lives, that is to say, two thousand pounds portion”(27)

2.“other than about seventy pounds in money, and what few things of value I had about me”(39)

3.“I had now no poverty attending me; on the contrary, I was mistress of ten thousand pounds before the prince did anything for me.”(151)

4.“I had no need to give him twenty thousand pounds to marry me, which had been buying my lodging too dear a great deal.”(313)

5.“However, in some time I got a substantial safe mortgage for £14,000 by the assistance of the famous Sir Robert Clayton, for which I had an estate of 6.£1800 a year bound to me, and had £700 per annum interest for it.”(355)

“In a word, I had now five-and-thirty thousand pounds estate; and as I found ways to live without wasting either principal or interest, I laid up £2000 every year at least out of the mere interest, adding it to the principal, and thus I went on.”(392)

But it doesn’t mean she goes wrong ever since her husband left, the fortune from the landlord’s death was not her design, and she was still keeping a relatively high moral standard before that.

The most interesting part I found is that there is a swift change in Roxana’s moral principle at a particular point, before or after she went to France with the landlord, and I think something special must have happened at that period. The way she decides about relationships were opposite before and after that point, it seems like she just suddenly decided to “turn black” at that moment? Perhaps it is because the death of her “friend” landlord, or perhaps it is because she saw her husband again? I will keep researching on this topic and post more details with reference next week.

3 thoughts on “Dig into the data of Roxana

  1. That is interesting data. I wonder how Defoe uses language in order to portray this “swift change” or this ambivalence in Roxana’s moral principle and how this allows the reader to form perceptions of Roxana.

  2. First off, your chart is awesome! I think it’s interesting you see a shift in Roxana’s character after the death of her faux-husband, the Landlord. I saw a shift, or at least a moment of recognition for all that she had done morally, after Amy was unconscious on the ship. What did strike me about when Roxana was in France, was her totally willingness to start a relationship with the Prince, so shortly after the Landlord was killed.

    It is interesting, the tracking of her money, and how she was so blase about the prince giving her so much money. In this way, I think we can truly see her as a “prostitute” because her focus tends to be on money. It would be interesting to chart her beauty throughout the novel, because despite of how many children she has, or how old she gets, her beauty never seems to diminish.

  3. It’s also important to keep in mind that this is a picaresque tale, with the central figure–Roxana–being the picaro or rogue. Many of Defoe’s novels feature roguish or borderline criminal characters, and his preface actually addresses a lot of this issue. The other important thing to keep in mind about the picaresque tale is that it is organized episodically, meaning in brief episodes. Here, the episodes are further organized around her lovers or “gentlemen” as well as her fluctuating wealth. There is a relationship of some sort between these two axes–as well as with her peripatetic lifestyle. I wonder what correspondences we see here? How do those correspondences function? What is the effect, for the reader, of these correspondences between place, wealth, and lover? (We can of course extend this to children, as well!)

Leave a Reply to Tonya-Marie Howe Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *