In response to the consumer revolution, the post-Restoration English society was rather tolerant and took a relatively laissez-faire attitude towards the inevitable class competition and “social emulation,” despite sumptuary laws still de jure administering the relation between social status and dress. Among other commodities, clothing is expedient to promote one‟s social status, and instrumental in narrowing social distance and the showing of social distinctions (or impersonating social status).
Under this social context of consumer boom and vestimentary transgression, Daniel Defoe's interest in consumerism and commodities carries over into Roxana and Moll Flanders. This essay argues that Moll and Roxana do not rely on money alone for their survival and autonomy, but rather on assuming different identities through impersonation, which becomes the shared paradigm of constructing the public life of the female protagonists in the novels. Through assuming different identities, the heroines not only weave their interpersonal and social relationships, but are also able to avert danger and violence on crime-ridden streets. Moll's impersonation, which traverses class and gender boundaries, enables her to rise above the poverty line and enjoy a long and successful career as a thief. As a variant of Moll, Roxana also resolves her problems through changes of clothes. The centerpieces of her engagement are Turkish dress and Quakeress' clothing that crisscross race and religion.
As a necessity for survival, impersonation divulges Defoe's gender bias and narratorial limit, as Moll and Roxana are subjected to familial and social deprivations, which make impossible female individualism in Defoe's fictional reality. In spite of Defoe's misrepresentation of gender issues, impersonation motivates the unprotected heroines to steer their respective courses of life. Through the freedom of dress, class/gender/religious/racial mobility overcomes authorial bias and limit, and widens the limited avenues to empowerment open to women.
KEY WORDS: impersonation, Daniel Defoe, Moll Flanders, Roxana, conduct books
十七世紀末葉，英國社會消費主義興起，「社會仿 效」由上而下的文化流通模式，刺激大眾消費。社會仿效 的風潮帶動社會競爭、拉近階層距離，而衣服儼然成為 社會仿效與消弭階級籓籬的最佳利器。在這時空背景 下，狄福的小說《羅珊娜》與《富蘭德》應運而生。富蘭 德的變裝突破階級與性別的限制，她變身僕人、乞丐、 寡婦、貴婦、男人，以賣淫盜竊致富。而羅珊娜也靠扮 裝掙脫經濟與家庭困境，她穿著土耳其洋裝與貴格會 服，不論遊走於上流社會或避世絕俗於巷弄間，兩者皆 游刃有餘。 不過，狄福筆下兩位女主人翁的易裝乃迫於生存的 必然與無奈。這種生存的必然暴露狄福論述的偏頗與囹 圄。相較於其奉幸福婚姻為圭臬的道德書，富蘭德與羅 珊娜的處境顯得困窘與尷尬。狄福論述上的邏輯缺口， 驗證了路易‧阿爾杜塞的說法：道德書中的意識形態與 小說現實之間永遠有條不可跨越的鴻溝。由於家庭與社 會空間的雙重壓縮，小說中女主角的刻劃突顯狄福論述 的侷限與矛盾，而扮裝適時提供小說敘述瓶頸的解套。 固然如此，羅珊娜與富蘭德藉由易裝，隱姓埋名，改換 階級、性別、教派、種族，並自由遷移於都市叢林間。 因此，羅珊娜與富蘭德的變裝除了具有建構女性經濟主 體、拓展女性生存空間的時代意義外，更儼然成為解構社會階級的良方策略。