Daniel Defoe's Moll Flanders and Colonel Jack, both published in 1722, have often been read as propaganda for emigration, transportation of criminals, and involuntary servitude. Both title characters find financial security and social status after being transported as indentured servants, and they eventually return to England. Each protagonist, however, makes an additional transatlantic journey out of choice rather than necessity, which paradoxically leads to greater risk and a more coercive atmosphere. Defoe complicates matters further by reversing the order of these journeys in the two novels, thus qualifying and in some respects subverting a purely optimistic view of colonial prospects. And while both Moll and Jack clearly distinguish themselves from African slaves, each is subject to more subtle forms of subjugation because of the con­nectedness of a transatlantic world that proves surprisingly small.

Contributor's Note

Joseph F. Bartolomeo, professor and Chair of English at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, is the author of A New Species of Criticism: Eighteenth-Century Discourse on the Novel (1994) and Matched Pairs: Gender and Intertextual Dialogue in Eighteenth-Century Fiction (2002), and the editor of Susanna Rowson's Reuben and Rachel (2009).