Roxana: The Fortunate Mistress

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Roxana: The Fortunate Mistress
Title page from the first edition
Author Daniel Defoe
Country England
Language English
Genre Novel
Publication date
Media type Print
Pages 379
ISBN 0-14-043149-7

Roxana: The Fortunate Mistress (full title: The Fortunate Mistress: Or, A History of the Life and Vast Variety of Fortunes of Mademoiselle de Beleau, Afterwards Called the Countess de Wintselsheim, in Germany, Being the Person known by the Name of the Lady Roxana, in the Time of King Charles II) is a 1724 novel by Daniel Defoe.

Plot summary[edit]

The novel concerns the story of an unnamed "fallen woman", the second time Defoe created such a character (the first was a similar female character in Moll Flanders). In Roxana, 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. Roxana moves up and down through the social spectrum several times, by contracting an ersatz marriage to a jeweler, secretly courting a prince, being offered marriage by a Dutch merchant, and is 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. The novel further draws attention to the incompatibility between sexual freedom and freedom from motherhood. Roxana 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.[citation needed] The character of Roxana can be described as a proto-feminist because she carries out her actions of prostitution for her own ends of freedom, but before a feminist ideology was fully formed.[citation needed]

External links[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • David Wallace Spielman. 2012. "The Value of Money in Robinson Crusoe, Moll Flanders, and Roxana". Modern Language Review, 107(1): 65-87.
  • Susanne Scholz. 2012. "English Women in Oriental Dress: Playing the Turk in Lady Mary Wortley Montagu's Turkish Embassy Letters and Daniel Defoe's Roxana". Early Modern Encounters with the Islamic East: Performing Cultures. Eds. Sabine Schülting, Savine Lucia Müller, and Ralf Herte. Farnam, England: Ashgate. 85-98.
  • Robin Runia. 2011. "Rewriting Roxana: Eighteenth-Century Narrative Form and Sympathy". Otherness: Essays and Studies, 2(1).
  • Christina L. Healey. 2009. "'A Perfect Retreat Indeed': Speculation, Surveillance, and Space in Defoe's Roxana". Eighteenth-Century Fiction. 21(4): 493-512.
  • Gerald J. Butler. "Defoe and the End of Epic Adventure: The Example of Roxana". Adventure: An Eighteenth-Century Idiom: Essays on the Daring and the Bold as a Pre-Modern Medium. Eds. Serge Soupel, Kevin L. Cope, Alexander Pettit, and Laura Thomason Wood. New York, NY: AMS. 91-109.
  • John Mullan. 2008. "Introduction". Roxana. Ed. John Mullan. Oxford: Oxford University Press. vii-xxvii.