Roxana: The Fortunate Mistress  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Roxana: The Fortunate Mistress is a 1724 novel by Daniel Defoe. Its full title is Roxana: The Fortunate Mistress Or, a History of the Life and Vast Variety of Fortunes of Mademoiselle de Beleau, Afterwards Called the Countess de Wintselsheim. The novel concerns the story of an unnamed "fallen woman", the second time Defoe wrote about this theme after Moll Flanders. In the book, a woman who takes on various pseudonyms, including "Roxana," describes her fall from wealth thanks to abandonment by a "fool" of a husband and movement into prostitution upon his abandonment. The woman moves up and down through the social spectrum various times, by contracting an ersatz marriage to a jeweler, secretly courting a prince and being offered marriage by a Dutch merchant, being finally able to afford her own freedom by accumulating wealth from these men. The novel examines the possibility of eighteenth century women owning their own estate despite a patriarchal society and draws attention to the incompatibility between sexual freedom and freedom from motherhood -- the woman becomes pregnant many times due to her sexual exploits and it is one of her children who come back to expose her, years later, by the closing scenes in the novel.

The character of Roxana can be described as a feminist because she carries out her actions of prostitution for her own ends of freedom, but before a feminist ideology was fully formed, which would rule out freedom through such a technique.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Roxana: The Fortunate Mistress" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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