Peter Defoe's Poor Monkey: The Child In Literature

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In Poor Monkey: the child in literature (1957), Peter Coveney states that “until the last decades of the eighteenth century the child did not exist as an important and continuous theme in English literature ,” echoing a view held by many commentators who typically maintain that serious portrayals of children in literature followed after the emergence of Rousseau and Romanticism. However, there are many who dissent from the view. One of whom is Peter Jochum, who in his article Defoe’s Children, argues that Daniel Defoe–writing in the early 1700’s–gave significant roles to children throughout many of his novels; an insight he believes to have also been largely neglected in Defoe studies. In his article he focuses his attention on the significant role of children in the novels Moll Flanders (1722), Colonel Jack (1722) and Roxana (1724), while only briefly touching on Captain Singleton (1720) and Robinson Crusoe (1719), in which he believes the role of children is slight. A point I will take issue with later on.

However, prior to his treatment of the novels, Jochum thoroughly probes one of Defoe’s prior works, namely The Family Instructor (1715), which is a lengthy treatise on education. Jochum believes this text, particularly the section “Fathers and Children,” to be the vitally significant to decoding the significance of Defoe’s depiction of children in his novels. “Fathers and Children,” similar to John Cotton’s catechism Milk For Babes (1646), is written in the form of a
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