Roxana: The Fortunate Mistress

Roxana: The Fortunate Mistress Summary and Analysis of Part 2

Roxana and the Landlord continue to have a happy relationship together. He puts additional conditions in his will, leaving more money and household items to her. He also pays Amy all of the wages she was owed for the time she worked without pay, as well as a bonus sum. After Roxana and the Landlord have been lovers for about eighteen months, Amy comments on the fact that Roxana has not gotten pregnant. Amy jokingly says that if she had been the one sleeping with the landlord, she surely would have been pregnant by now. Roxana says she is going to take Amy up on this challenge, and urges Amy to sleep with the landlord. Amy refuses, but Roxana keeps pressuring her, and eventually forces her in to bed while pulling the clothes off of her. The Landlord has sex with Amy.

The next day, Amy is very upset, and the Landlord is angry and dislikes her. Roxana engineers several more sexual encounters between the two of them, and Amy does indeed get pregnant. Roxana arranges for Amy to discreetly give birth at another location and for the child to be fostered and cared for. A few months after the birth of her daughter, Amy comes back to Roxana's household, but no longer has a relationship with the Landlord. About six months later, two years after the start of the relationship, Roxana also gets pregnant. She gives birth to a daughter, but the baby only lives for six weeks. One year later, Roxana gives birth to a son. A short time after, the Landlord explains that his work as a jewel merchant requires him to go to France. Roxana offers to go with him, and after arranging their affairs, the couple travel to Paris together. They leave Amy in charge of their house during their absence.

Business in France goes well, and they extend their stay for so long that Roxana starts to think they will live there permanently. She is happily enjoying life in Paris. It gradually becomes known that the Jeweller/Landlord is a wealthy man, and often carries jewels with him when he meets with potential buyers. One day, the Jeweller is preparing to go to Versailles to meet with a Prince; he is not going to be taking any jewels with him because they are meeting about other business. Roxana is nervous, and tells him to make sure he is not traveling at night. The Jeweller tells her there is no danger, and to reassure her, gives her his watch and diamond ring, so that he will not have any valuables on his person. Roxana is still nervous, and has premonitions that something bad will happen to him. The Jeweller reassures her and sets off, but he is attacked by robbers on the road and killed.

Roxana is distraught when she hears of her lover's death, but quickly puts plans in to motion. She arranges for him to be buried, by claiming that he was Catholic, and also presents herself as his French wife, acting shocked to learn that he was married to another woman in England. Roxana takes all the money the Jeweller had on hand, and sends word to Amy to take all the valuables from the house, and sell anything she can, before the house is inherited. People assume that the Jeweller had jewels and money with him when he was killed, and Roxana encourages them to think he was robbed of his watch, diamond ring, cash, and a selection of fine jewels, while in actuality she has taken these items for herself. Amy comes to join Roxana in France, and by presenting herself as his legal wife, Roxana is able to claim more of his money and assets. She is now a very wealthy woman.


Throughout the novel, Amy and Roxana have an exceptionally close relationship, as Amy is the only person whom Roxana fully trusts. The two women are almost extensions of one another, and while this allows them to have a close and intimate relationship, it can also create a dark and twisted dynamic. As can be seen when Roxana recounts Amy essentially convincing her to abandon her chastity, Roxana often blames choices she feels uncomfortable with on Amy. The relationship between the two women begins with a clear power hierarchy and class dynamic: Roxana is the employer, and Amy is the servant. When Roxana loses her money and can no longer pay Amy, Amy chooses to stay with her anyways, and this permanently unsettles their relationship: Roxana no longer has the same upper-hand, and their different social positions become much more nebulous. When they are both impoverished, Amy is arguably better off: she can find more work as a servant, and she is already used to living a working-class life, whereas Roxana has no experiences or resources, and is experiencing a dramatic decline in social status and self image. As Terry Castle explains, "Amy is the secret sharer in Roxana's life: she acts out her mistress's fantasies, she accept the functions Roxana projects, both consciously and unconsciously, onto her" (84).

Roxana comes to feel a desire to restore the power balance, and possibly punish Amy for her fall in status. Amy's comments on Roxana's failure to bear a child reveal the messy negotiation of power and status: for a married woman, giving her husband children would likely be seen as fulfilling her duties. Within Roxana's ambiguous relationship with the Landlord, it isn't entirely desirable for her to have children, as those children would be illegitimate, but nonetheless it stings when Amy teases her. Roxana's active role in Amy's rape by the Landlord shows that there are dark psychological dynamics at play within the trio, but Defoe does not spend much time exploring these inner experiences. Once both Amy and Roxana have given birth to children fathered by the same man, they are even more intertwined. These experiences also reveal a very new dynamic of motherhood: when children are born into illicit relationships, their existence is typically hidden away, and they end up with very limited relationships to their birth parents. Whereas Roxana clearly loved her first five children and was devastated to part from them, Amy and Roxana seem quite unattached and unmoved to give up the children they bear to the Landlord.

Roxana's pattern of traumatic loss continues with the sudden death of the Landlord/Jeweller; this experience has strong similarities to the abrupt disappearance of her husband the Brewer, and reinforce the sense that any stability she achieves can always be snatched away without any warning. What is striking is how differently Roxana responds, showing the progression of her character for both good and bad. When her husband the Brewer vanished, Roxana was much more passive and uncertain; Amy and others had to effectively engineer her next steps and then coax her into taking them. By the time she loses the Landlord/Jeweller, Roxana is capable of quickly crafting a plan for herself, and springing in to action. She focuses on safeguarding financial assets, since she is in a precarious situation where she does not legally have any rights to anything from the Landlord (he is officially married to another woman). Interestingly, Roxana does not appear to give any thought to what the Landlord's wife might experience if she ends up with far less money and assets; in order to protect herself, she may have to disadvantage other women. By this point in time, Roxana is a somewhat ruthless actor who will not let anything get in the way of achieving her security. She will also not depend on anyone except herself.