37 pages 1 hour read

Daniel Defoe

Roxana: The Fortunate Mistress

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 1724

A modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, SuperSummary offers high-quality Study Guides with detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, and more.

Pages 5-111Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Pages 5-111 Summary

In 1683, 10-year-old Roxana, who is born of French Huguenot extraction, moves from Poictiers, France, to London with her family. Compared to most refugees, her parents are affluent, and her father sells French brandy, paper, and other goods, to his advantage. Roxana grows up attractive, intelligent, and fluent in English. She is married off at the age of 15 to a brewer, who lacks business sense, but gives her five children. Following several business errors, the brewer loses his brewery and spends Roxana’s dowry. One day, he goes out hunting and does not return. Roxana sinks into poverty and feels unable to provide for her five young children. She enlists the help of her maid, Amy, who puts them into the care of an Uncle in Law. 

Roxana’s landlord takes pity on the two women; he invites them to dine often and gives them money. The women are grateful, but suspicious that the landlord will want some reward in exchange for his generosity. Amy offers to bed the landlord so that her lady will be able to retain her virtue. Roxana speechifies on her virtue, saying that “a Woman ought rather to die, than to prostitute her Virtue and Honour” (29).