This chapter is an attempt to describe the quality we have recognised in several different contexts during the course of our study that can be called ‘instability’, and is made up from the unpredictability, improvised adaptations of character, rapid changes of circumstances, and complex motives that abound in Defoe’s novels. In Chapter 4, we remarked that ‘Defoe’s novels partake of the quality of ordinary life: they resist purpose and shaping, they remain stubbornly unpredictable, anarchic’. We will now look at this aspect of Defoe’s narratives, and at the same time we will consider his choice of three narrators who are at or beyond the margins of society.
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