Short summary - The Fortunate Mistress - Daniel Defoe

British literature summaries -

Short summary - The Fortunate Mistress
Daniel Defoe

The heroine, so magnificently presented on the title, was actually called Susan, which will be revealed by the end of the book, in a random reservation («my daughter was named after me»). However, in her changeable life, she changed «roles» so many times that Roxanne’s name was fixed - according to the «role» she played in her finest hour. But those scientists are also right who, having overlooked her real name, declare her anonymous and draw a conclusion about the character's character: she really is a product of her time, a social type.

Generally speaking, Roxanne is a Frenchwoman. She was born in the city of Poitiers, in a family of Huguenots. In 1683, when the girl was about ten years old, her parents, fleeing religious persecution, moved with her to England. Therefore, the year of her birth is the 1673rd. At the age of fifteen, her father married her to a London brewer, the useless owner, for eight years of marriage, squandered his wife’s dowry, sold the brewery, and one morning «left the yard with two servants» and left forever, leaving his wife and children small and small (less than there are five of them). The ill-fated marriage gives the case of an ambulance and a clever heroine to classify the «fools,» of which her husband combined several varieties at once, and warn readers from a rash decision to associate fate with one of these.


Her position is deplorable. Relatives of the runaway husband refuse to help, only the faithful maid Amy remains with her. It comes to her and two compassionate old women (one of them is her husband’s widowed aunt) to take four children (the youngest took custody of him) to the house of their uncle and aunt and, literally pushing them through the threshold, run away. This plan is being implemented, the relatives, ashamed by their conscientious uncle, decide to take care of the babies together.

Meanwhile, Roxanne continues to remain in the house, and moreover: the owner does not ask for a fee, sympathizing with her miserable situation, renders all sorts of assistance. Thoughtful Amy dares that such participation is hardly disinterested and her lady has to pay off in a certain way. And so it happens. After jokingly engaged in a «wedding dinner», convinced by Amy's arguments that the harassment of her benefactor was fair, Roxanne yields to him, accompanying the victim with eloquent self-justification («Poverty is what killed me, terrifying poverty»). It is no longer a joke, but a «contract» is being seriously drawn up, where in detail and precisely agreed money and things guarantee the heroine material security.

Not to say that she easily survives her fall, although it is necessary to take into account the corrective evaluations in hindsight, which are made by the «late» Roxanne, mired in vice and, it seems, full of sincere repentance. A symptom of impending moral deafness is her seduction of «faithful Amy,» whom she puts to bed with her roommate. When it turns out that Amy became pregnant, Roxanne, feeling guilty, decides to "take this baby and take care of her own." We know that others take care of her own children, so that this girl will be fused with a nurse, and nothing more will be said about her. Only in the third year, Roksana herself has a girl (she will die six weeks old), and a boy will be born another year later.

Among the occupations of her cohabitant («husband», as he himself insists and who in fact he is) is the resale of jewelry (why, in a string of favors awarded to her, he will appear as a «jeweler»). Cases require his departure to Paris, Roxanne goes with him. One day he is going to Versailles to the prince of ***. Roxanne is seized with an unkind feeling, she is trying to hold him back, but the jeweler bound by the word leaves, and on the way to Versailles in broad daylight three robbers kill him. Roksana has no legal rights to the heiress, but with her there are stones, bills - in a word, her position cannot be compared with the insignificance from which the dead benefactor lifted her. And Roksana is now different - a sober business woman, she with rare composure (while quite sincerely mourning a jeweler) arranges her affairs. For example, she comes across as a Frenchwoman in time for a London manager, the widow of his master, who was unaware of the existence of another, English wife, and competently demands a «widow's share». Meanwhile, the warned Amy is selling furniture in London, silver, boarding house.

The prince, who did not wait on that ill-fated day of the jeweler, shows Roxane sympathy, first sending his valet and then declaring himself. The result of the visit was an annual pension for the entire period of her stay in Paris and, with extraordinary speed, a growing relationship with the prince («Count de Clerac»). Naturally, she is made his mistress, on which occasion obligatory morality is deduced as a warning to "unhappy women." Their relationship will last eight years, Roxanne will give birth to a prince of two children. Devoted to Amy, her faithful mirror, allows the prince's valet to seduce herself, adding to the mistress belated repentance in the initial seduction of the girl.

The measured life of the heroine unexpectedly fails: in the Dauphin’s Meudon Palace, where Roxanne visits with his prince, she sees among the guardsmen her missing husband, a brewer. Fearing revelations, she sends Amy to him, she composes a compassionate story about a mistress who fell into extreme poverty and vanished into obscurity (however, she quite truthfully told the initial sorrows of a «straw widow» left with small children). Still a jerk and a loafer, the brewer is trying to extract a rather large amount from Amy - supposedly to buy an officer’s patent, but is satisfied with a single «loan» gun, after which he carefully avoids it. Insuring himself against further unwanted meetings, Roxanne hires a detective - "to observe all his movements." And before the term she loses it a second time, this time with incredible relief.

Meanwhile, the prince receives an order from the king to go to Italy. As usual, having broken nobly (supposedly not wanting to create additional difficulties for him), Roxanne accompanies him. Amy remains in Paris to guard the property ("I was rich, very rich"). The journey lasted almost two years. In Venice, she gave birth to a prince a second boy, but he soon died. Upon returning to Paris, about a year later, she gave birth to a third son. Their connection is interrupted, following the changeable logic of her obscure life: the prince’s wife («an excellent, magnanimous and truly kind wife») dangerously fell ill and asked her husband on his deathbed to remain faithful to his successor («whoever his choice»). Struck by her generosity, the prince falls into melancholy, closes in solitude and leaves Roxanne, taking on the costs of raising their sons. Having decided to return to England («I still considered myself an Englishwoman») and not knowing how to manage my property, Roxanne finds a certain Dutch merchant «famous for his wealth and honesty». He gives practical advice and even undertakes to sell her jewelry to a familiar Jewish moneylender. The moneylender immediately recognizes the stones of the jeweler killed eight years ago, who were then declared stolen, and, of course, suspects Roxanne of an accomplice to the hiding killers. The threat of the moneylender to «investigate this matter» frightens her in earnest. Fortunately, he devotes the Dutch merchant to his plans, and he had already flinched before the charms of Roxanne and rafted her to Rotterdam, arranging her property affairs and leading the usurer by the nose. "Famous for its wealth and honesty." He gives practical advice and even undertakes to sell her jewelry to a familiar Jewish moneylender. The moneylender immediately recognizes the stones of the jeweler killed eight years ago, who were then declared stolen, and, of course, suspects Roxanne of an accomplice to the hiding killers. The threat of the moneylender to «investigate this matter» frightens her in earnest. Fortunately, he devotes the Dutch merchant to his plans, and he had already flinched before the charms of Roxanne and rafted her to Rotterdam, arranging her property affairs and leading the usurer by the nose. "Famous for its wealth and honesty." He gives practical advice and even undertakes to sell her jewelry to a familiar Jewish moneylender. The moneylender immediately recognizes the stones of the jeweler killed eight years ago, who were then declared stolen, and, of course, suspects Roxanne of an accomplice to the hiding killers. The threat of the moneylender to «investigate this matter» frightens her in earnest. Fortunately, he devotes the Dutch merchant to his plans, and he had already flinched before the charms of Roxanne and rafted her to Rotterdam, arranging her property affairs and leading the usurer by the nose. The threat of the moneylender to «investigate this matter» frightens her in earnest. Fortunately, he devotes the Dutch merchant to his plans, and he had already flinched before the charms of Roxanne and rafted her to Rotterdam, arranging her property affairs and leading the usurer by the nose. The threat of the moneylender to «investigate this matter» frightens her in earnest. Fortunately, he devotes the Dutch merchant to his plans, and he had already flinched before the charms of Roxanne and rafted her to Rotterdam, arranging her property affairs and leading the usurer by the nose.

A storm is being played out at sea, before his ferocity Amy bitterly repents in her dissolute life, Roxanne silently echoes her, promising to completely change. The ship belongs to England, and on land their repentance is soon forgotten. Roxanne is sent alone to Holland. The Rotterdam merchant, who was recommended to her by a Dutch merchant, safely arranges her affairs, including with dangerous stones. Six months pass in these efforts. She learns from Amy’s letters that her husband-brewer, as a friend of Amy, the prince’s valet, found out, was killed in a brawl. Then it turns out that Amy invented this out of her best feelings, wishing her mistress a new marriage. The «fool» husband will die, but much later. A benefactor writes to her from Paris - a Dutch merchant who underwent a lot of trouble from a moneylender. Digging out Roxanne’s biography, he dangerously approaches the prince, but here he is stopped: on the New Bridge in Paris, two unknown persons cut off his ears and threaten further troubles if he does not get enough. For his part, protecting his own peace of mind, an honest merchant makes a sneak and puts a money-lender in prison, and then, far from sin, he himself leaves Paris for Rotterdam, to Roxanne.

They are drawing closer. An honest merchant proposes marriage (his Parisian wife is dead), Roxanne refuses him («having married, I lose all my property, which will be transferred to my husband’s hands»). But she explains her refusal by an aversion to marriage after the misadventures to which she was condemned by the death of her velor husband. Negotiant, however, realizes the true reason and promises her complete material independence in marriage - he will not touch a gun from her condition. Roxanne has to invent another reason, namely the desire for spiritual freedom. In her speeches, she reveals herself to be a sophisticated sophist, however, it’s too late for her to go backward for fear of being convicted of self-interest (even though she expects a child from him). The frustrated merchant returns to Paris, Roxanne goes «to try her luck» (her thoughts, of course, about the content, and not about marriage) to London. She settles in a fashionable area, Pel-Mel, next to the palace park, "under the name of a noble Frenchwoman." Strictly speaking, still nameless, it is always rootless. She lives in a big way, rumor multiplies her wealth even more, she is besieged by «dowry hunters». In the management of her condition, she is intelligently helped by Sir Robert Clayton (this is a real person, the largest financier of the time). Along the way, Defoe tells the "English nobles" how they could increase their fortune, "just as merchants increase theirs." the largest financier of that time). Along the way, Defoe tells the "English nobles" how they could increase their fortune, "just as merchants increase theirs." the largest financier of that time). Along the way, Defoe tells the "English nobles" how they could increase their fortune, "just as merchants increase theirs."

The heroine turns a new page in her biography: the doors of her house open for «high-ranking nobles», she arranges evenings with card games and masquerade balls, one of them is incognito, in a mask, is the king himself. The heroine appears before the meeting in a Turkish costume (not knowing how to think otherwise, she, of course, does not forget to say how many pistols he got for her) and performs the Turkish dance, plunging everyone in amazement. It was then that someone exclaimed - «Why, it is Roxanne herself!» - finally giving the heroine a name. This period is the pinnacle of her career: for the next three years she spends in the king’s company - «far from the light,» as she announces with flirtatiously smug modesty. She returns to society fabulously rich, slightly faded, but still able to win hearts. And soon there is a "gentleman of noble family," who led the attack. Is he, it is true, he began stupidly, arguing "about love, an object so ridiculous for me when it is not connected with the main thing, that is, with money." But then the eccentric corrected the situation by offering content.

Two times met in the image of Roxanne, two eras - the Restoration (Charles II and Jacob I), with its carbon monoxide fun and unscrupulousness, and the Puritan sobering that followed with the accession of William III and further strengthened under Anna and Georgi. Defoe was a contemporary of all these monarchs. The depraved life that Roxanne betrays upon returning from Paris to London is the very embodiment of the Restoration. On the contrary, a petulant calculus of all the benefits delivered by this life is already far from aristocracy, it is a typically bourgeois fold, akin to a merchant ledger.

In London, the story of Roxanne ties up truly dramatic knots, fumbling with her past. She finally became interested in the fate of her five children, left fifteen years ago at the mercy of relatives. The eldest son and youngest daughter have already died, the youngest son (orphanage) and two of his sisters, the eldest and middle, who have left an unfriendly aunt (Roxanne’s sister-in-law) and determined «to be people», remain. Roksana’s calculations do not include opening to children and relatives and relatives in general, and Amy carries out all the necessary searches. The son, «a glorious, smart and courteous fellow,» an apprentice, was doing hard work. Introducing himself as the former maid of the unfortunate mother of these children, Amy arranges the fate of the boy: he redeems from the owner and defines him in studies, preparing for the merchant field. These blessings have an unexpected outcome; one of Roksana’s maidservants returns from the city in tears, and from the questioning Amy concludes that this is Roxanne's eldest daughter, dejected by her brother's luck! Carrying on a trifle, Amy counts the girl. By and large, the removal of her daughter suits Roksana, but her heart is now restless - it turns out that "there was still a lot of maternal feeling." Amy here too unobtrusively alleviates the situation of an unhappy girl.

With the advent of the daughter in the life of the heroine, a fracture is indicated. She «froze» my lord ***, who has already been in her eighth year in custody, they part. Roxanne begins to "judge the past with justice." Among the culprits of her fall, in addition to need, another one is declared - the Devil, who was afraid of her ghost of need already in safe circumstances. And greed for money, and vanity - all this is his intrigue. She had already moved from Pel-Mel to Kensington, slowly interrupting old acquaintances, trying to put an end to the "vile and vile" craft. Her last London address is a compound near Minerize, on the outskirts of the city, in the house of a Quaker who left for New England. A significant role in changing the address is played by the desire to insure against the visit of her daughter, Susan, who has a short relationship with Amy. Roxanne even changes her appearance, dressing herself in a modest Quaker outfit. And of course, she goes here under a false name. The image of the mistress, a «good Quaker», was written out with warm sympathy - Defoe had reasons to relate well to the representatives of this sect. Roksana, so desired by her, a calm, right life, nevertheless, does not bring peace to her soul - now she bitterly regrets the separation from the «Dutch merchant». Amy goes on a reconnaissance mission to Paris. Meanwhile, a rushed fate presents the merchant Roxanne directly in London: it turns out that he has been living here for a long time. It seems that this time the merchant’s unmatched intentions will be crowned with success, especially since they have a son, they both painfully experience his rootlessness and, finally, Roxana cannot forget how much this man has done for her (scrupulous honesty in business is not alien to her) . discharged with warm sympathy - Defoe had reasons to relate well to the representatives of this sect. Roksana, so desired by her, a calm, right life, nevertheless, does not bring peace to her soul - now she bitterly regrets the separation from the «Dutch merchant». Amy goes on a reconnaissance mission to Paris. Meanwhile, a rushed fate presents the merchant Roxanne directly in London: it turns out that he has been living here for a long time. It seems that this time the merchant’s unmatched intentions will be crowned with success, especially since they have a son, they both painfully experience his rootlessness and, finally, Roxana cannot forget how much this man has done for her (scrupulous honesty in business is not alien to her) . discharged with warm sympathy - Defoe had reasons to relate well to the representatives of this sect. Roksana, so desired by her, a calm, right life, nevertheless, does not bring peace to her soul - now she bitterly regrets the separation from the «Dutch merchant». Amy goes on a reconnaissance mission to Paris. Meanwhile, a rushed fate presents the merchant Roxanne directly in London: it turns out that he has been living here for a long time. It seems that this time the merchant’s unmatched intentions will be crowned with success, especially since they have a son, they both painfully experience his rootlessness and, finally, Roxana cannot forget how much this man has done for her (scrupulous honesty in business is not alien to her) . a correct life nonetheless does not bring peace to her soul - now she bitterly regrets her separation from the "Dutch merchant." Amy goes on a reconnaissance mission to Paris. Meanwhile, a rushed fate presents the merchant Roxanne directly in London: it turns out that he has been living here for a long time. It seems that this time the merchant’s unmatched intentions will be crowned with success, especially since they have a son, they both painfully experience his rootlessness and, finally, Roxana cannot forget how much this man has done for her (scrupulous honesty in business is not alien to her) . a correct life nonetheless does not bring peace to her soul - now she bitterly regrets her separation from the "Dutch merchant." Amy goes on a reconnaissance mission to Paris. Meanwhile, a rushed fate presents the merchant Roxanne directly in London: it turns out that he has been living here for a long time. It seems that this time the merchant’s unmatched intentions will be crowned with success, especially since they have a son, they both painfully experience his rootlessness and, finally, Roxana cannot forget how much this man has done for her (scrupulous honesty in business is not alien to her) .

A new complication: in another «report» from France, Amy reports that the prince is looking for Roxanne, intending to grant her the title of countess and marry her. The vanity of the former royal mistress flares up with unprecedented power. There is a cooling game with the merchant. Fortunately for the heroine, she does not have time to push him away from herself a second time (and finally), because Amy's further messages deprive her of the hope of ever being called "Your Highness." As if guessing about her ambitious claims, the merchant promises her, in case of marriage, the title of baroness in England (you can buy) or in Holland - the countess (you can also buy - from the impoverished nephew). Ultimately, she will receive both titles. The option with Holland suits her more: staying in England, she risks that her past may become known to the merchant. Plus, Susan, the smartest girl, comes to the conclusion that if not Amy, then Lady Roxanne herself is her mother, and she spreads her thoughts to Amy. Amy, who is transmitting everything to Roxanne, has a desire in her heart to kill the «girl». Shocked by Roxanne for some time does not let her into her eyes, but the word is spoken. Events hasten the departure of the spouses to Holland, where, according to Roxanne, neither the daughter, who accidentally became her first enemy, will get it, nor other ghosts of the past will encroach on her now respectable life. The fatal accident, which there are many in this novel, is overtaken by her at the moment of pre-trial trouble, the wife of the ship's negotiator, turns out to be Susan's friend, and she comes on board, frightening Roxanne to death. And although her daughter does not recognize her (serving as a dishwasher, she only saw «Lady Roxanne» once, and then in a Turkish costume, which plays the role of a revealing «skeleton in the closet») and,

Susan besieges the Quaker’s house, seeking a meeting with Amy and her mistress, in whom she confidently assumes her mother. The afflicted daughter love is no longer driving her, but a hunting passion and revealing pathos. Roxanne moves out of the apartment, hides in the resort towns, keeping in touch only with Amy and the Quaker, who begins to suspect the evil, telling Susan all sorts of tales about her guest and feeling in a situation of collusion. Meanwhile, frightened no less than her mistress by what is happening, Amy accidentally meets Susan in the city, goes to Greenwich with her (then a rather remote place), they vigorously explain themselves, and the girl stops walking in time, not allowing herself to be carried into the forest. Amy's intentions still enrage Roxanne, she chases her away, losing her faithful friend in such a difficult moment of her life.

The ending of this story is shrouded in gloomy tones: nothing is heard about Amy and nothing is heard about the girl, and yet the last time, according to rumors, they were seen together. Mindful of Amy's manic desire to «secure» Susan, the worst can be assumed.

In absentia showered with good deeds to his less persistent children, Roxanne sets sail for Holland, lives there «with all its splendor and splendor». In due time, Amy and her will follow her, however, their meeting is beyond the bounds of the book, as well as the "heavenly wrath" that has shown them. Their misadventures were devoted to a fake sequel published in 1745, that is, fourteen years after the death of Defoe. It tells how Amy managed to imprison Susan in a debt prison, leaving which she comes to Holland and exposes both. The most honest husband, who finally opened his eyes, expels Roxanne from the house, deprives him of any inheritance rights, gives Susan a good marriage. In the «sequel,» Roxanne the pauper dies in prison, and Amy, infected with a bad disease, also dies in poverty.