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Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe

Moll Flanders is the pseudonym of the heroine of this novel: since she is wanted by the law, she does not wish to reveal her true identity. She was born in Newgate Prison to a mother who was transported to Virginia shortly afterwards for theft, leaving her helpless. Around the age of three she ran away from some gypsies with whom she had apparently been living. A parish took her in and she was given to the care of a nurse, who brought her up to the age of eight. Then she was supposed to go into service, but didn't want to and was allowed to remain with her nurse instead, sewing and spinning. When her nurse died when she was 14 or so, she became a maid-servant in the household of the Mayor, and learned the same lessons as the daughters of the house. The older son of the house seduced her with compliments and money, and they were lovers. Then the younger one fell in love with her also, and wanted to marry her, not being aware of her relationship with his brother. The older one convinced the unwilling girl to marry the younger one, and she lived as his wife until his death a few years later. His parents took charge of the two children from the marriage. Moll then married a gentleman-draper, that is, a tradesman with fine manners. He was agreeable, but spent her money and soon went bankrupt. He broke out of jail and left the country, leaving Moll free to marry again, though perhaps not legally. After a period of time in which Moll helped a friend of hers to regain and humble a disdainful lover, she married a gentleman from Virginia, pretending to be richer than she was, though never saying so outright. He took the discovery of her poverty pretty well, and they went to Virginia. There she met his mother, a former transported convict, who unhappily turned out to be her mother as well. This discovery made Moll leave her brother/husband and children after several years of marriage: after some negotiations she was given some valuable goods and returned to England. Her goods were lost in a storm and she moved to Bath. In Bath she became acquainted with a very modest and very friendly gentleman, whose wife was insane. He supported her and they lived together chastely from some time: he respected her so much that they would sleep in the same bed and do nothing else but sleep. One drunken night the chasteness ended, and they lived as lovers for several more years, until he fell gravely ill while at home with his insane wife and her relatives. After he recovered he repented his sinful ways and did not want to see Moll anymore, but took care of the son she had born him. Moll wanted to get married, but did not see any likely prospects. She decided to go north with an acquaintance from there, since living was cheaper outside of London. Before going, however, she took care of financial business by meeting an honest, sober gentleman who agreed to take care of her money. He was a cuckold on the look-out for a virtuous wife, and decided to divorce his unfaithful wife and marry Moll when she returned from the north. Moll thought this would be a good idea if she didn't find anything better in Lancashire. The friend took Moll first to a Catholic family, where she was well entertained, and then brought her to meet someone she thought to be a wealthy Irish gentleman. He, an agreeable and handsome man, courted 1

her and she married him. Then it turned out that he had married her for her money (the friend had told him she was rich) and she had married him for his. They liked each other very well, but decided that it was only practical to part, and consider the marriage nonexistent. Back in London, Moll found herself to be pregnant by her latest husband. She met a midwife/ abortionist/ madam of doubtful morals who took care of her for a fee during her pregnancy, and found a family to take care of the baby afterwards. She then married the man who had been taking care of her money, and had successfully obtained a divorce (he never found out what she had been doing in the north, or about the baby). They lived together soberly and happily for five years until he went bankrupt and died. Left almost destitute, and no longer young enough to attract a new husband, Moll eventually took to crime, stealing things. She renewed acquaintance with the midwife, who was by now a pawnbroker and leader of thieves. Moll became an excellent and successful thief, and had many adventures, and used all sorts of clever techniques to steal silver and cloth. She was very careful, never used violence, and never let her colleagues know who she was or where she lived. They were often caught, but she stayed free and prospered, until at last she was caught stealing some silk. Committed to Newgate, Moll was at first unrepentant, though she regretted having been caught. Many of the prisoners there did not seem to mind their terrible surroundings or their death sentences. Moll was softened, however, when she saw her Lancashire husband being brought in for highway robbery. She was cast into despair when she received a death sentence, and with the aid of a minister sent by her friend the midwife, who she called her governess, she became a good Christian. The minister obtained a reprieve from the gallows, and then a lesser sentence, that of transportation to Virginia. Moll visited her Lancashire husband and they reasserted their love. He was more willing at first to hang than to voluntarily accept transportation without trial, but Moll convinced him that, with money, their lives in Virginia could be quite comfortable. Without appropriate gifts of money to various people, they at last found themselves luxuriously installed on a ship to Virginia, along with the tools that Moll's governess bought them with Moll's money from theft. In Virginia Moll was not able at first to acknowledge herself to be her brother's former wife and the mother of his son, now a thriving young man, because she did not want her Lancashire husband to know about the incest. So instead they settled in Virginia quite far from the place where her brother and son lived, and began a tobacco plantation. After a year Moll returned to see her son, who was overjoyed to see her - but they did not let her brother know of her, since he was old, bitter, and passionate. Her son gave her the income from some land her mother had left her, which she was able to use to transform her other plantation into quite a thriving place. Soon afterwards her brother died and she was able to tell her husband about that marriage, and could appear openly married in front of her son. Moll and her husband became quite rich and ultimately moved back to England (incognito) to end their days there.

Moll Flanders Background

Moll Flanders, published in 1722, was one of the earliest English novels (the earliest is probably Aphra Behn's Oroonoko, published in 1688). Like many early novels, it is told in the first person as a narrative, and is presented as a truthful account, since at that time the idea of a long, realistic work of fiction was still new. It is not only an extremely entertaining and action-packed story, but also gives a valuable and lively picture of 17th century society. Although Moll is an exceptional character because of her ingenuity and extraordinary life, the problems that Moll faces are firmly rooted in her society. 2

As the daughter of a transported convict, she begins life at a great disadvantage: she lacks the support system of family and friends which all children need, and which was particularly necessary for women, since their access to employment was limited. Without any system to protect them, the children of convicts are thrown into the world with no training in any trade and no prospects other than starvation or the same life of crime that ended so badly for their parents. Moll herself was very lucky to be taken in: the parish (the area served by one church) were under no obligation to take care of penniless children who were not born there, or had no other particular claim to charity: "I was not a parish charge upon this or that part of the town by law." When Moll is a young girl, she is forced to go into service as a maid because she would not be able to make a living sewing and spinning. Maids were paid very little, but at least they were fed and clothed. The fact that women were not able to support themselves legally (the assumption being that their husbands or father would contribute to their support from their higher wages) always underlies Moll's decisions: she really needs to get married. When she is widowed at the age of 48, she is too old to hope to marry again, and has little choice but to embark on a life of crime. In the 17th century, crime (at least thievery) really paid, because labor was very cheap and things were very expensive. Before the era of industrialization, the production of objects took an immense amount of labor: a piece of cloth could be the result of many hours of work, though stealing it might only take a minute. Even though labor was very cheap, the sheer amount of it which was required to make an object added up to make theft a profitable line of business. For example, the governess bought a lady's watch that Moll stole for 20 guineas, presumably less than it was worth, since it was stolen; 20 guineas would have supported one of Moll's children for 4 years. It would be by no means easy for Moll to make a living doing honest work, but she grows rich rapidly as a pickpocket. The emphasis on cloth underscores the fact that the production of cloth was a very important part of the 17th and 18th century English economy. Theft was not the only illegal occupation open to women. In the 17th and 18th centuries, prostitution was widespread in London. This was probably the result of a social system in which poor women could hardly make an honest living, and completely lost their reputations if they were seduced, thus making it almost impossible to get an honest job. A "fallen woman" had little choice but to remain on the ground. Also, men could not engage in extramarital sex with respectable women, and commonly married late. Theft and prostitution were not without their risks, however: a thief could be transported or hanged for stealing a watch or a length of cloth. At the very least, they could expect to spend several weeks in Newgate Prison, a lively but hellish place. Transportation to Virginia was considered a terrible punishment, even though transported convicts could eventually hope to be freed and settle their own land. The difference between colonial America as viewed by Americans, and as viewed by the colonizing English, is worth noticing. We are in the 17th century, long before any breath of revolution: Virginia is simply a place where good money can be made raising tobacco. Prostitutes could not defend themselves well from infection or pregnancy. Syphilis was probably introduced into Europe from the Americas, in exchange for small pox and a host of other diseases. It appeared in Naples in 1493, and ravaged its way through Europe, known generally as the French Pox, except in France where it was called the Naples Disease (le mal de Naples). It was treated in a variety of harmful and ineffective ways, including the use of mercury, a dangerous poison. Some people argued that it could not be sexually transmitted because so many monks had it! But by the time of Moll Flanders, there was apparently little doubt that it was a venereal disease. It appears commonly in 18th century engravings 3

as a punishment suffered by lustful sinners, weakening aristocratic families when infected children were born. Pregnant prostitutes might be chased from parish to parish since the authorities would not want to have to take charge of the unwanted infant. They could take refuge in houses like that of Moll's governess, who had presumably bribed the parish so they wouldn't bother her. Unwanted children could be given to country families to be taken care of, along with a sum of money. However these children were often neglected, and in any case rates of child mortality were very high. Many of Moll's many children quietly disappear, presumably fallen prey to illness. Perhaps because of the high rates of child mortality, some mothers guarded against becoming too attached to their children. Other familial ties were less strong also: people married for money rather than for love. Despite all these difficulties and dangers, the picture Defoe gives of 17th century England is not altogether black. Its inhabitants seem to enjoy themselves quite a bit whenever they have a little money. Although the gaiety is rather frenetic, and pleasure is rarely without attendant dangers, there seems to be no doubt in Moll's mind that life is well worth having. Perhaps the spice of danger is what gives Moll Flanders, and the society it represents, such a vivid and intensely alive quality.

Moll Flanders Characters

Character List
Moll Flanders
Moll's most salient characteristics are her ingenuity, energy, and determination to survive and do well. She is willing to sacrifice moral principles in order to prosper, but does not appear to be extraordinarily wicked: when her continued prosperity seems secure, she can be an exemplary wife, sober and virtuous. She is beautiful, clever, and talented, and her education is better than those of most girls of her class, since she learned the lessons of the young ladies she served as a maid. Her manners are generally good and she has clean habits, enabling her to pass as a lady if she chooses. She rarely lets herself despair, believing that drooping under the weight of misfortune doubles it. She has a great amount of self control, and in particular is able to keep important secrets from people close to her for long periods of time. She is an excellent actress, and can take on different characters as easily as changing her clothes, but prefers to appear as a lady. Although she marries for money several times, she is capable of deep affection, and devotes a great deal of time, money, and effort to saving her Lancashire husband. Her affection for her children is not terribly strong, however. There are some things she refuses to do, such as having abortions or being a streetwalker. She is a a very cautious thief, never engaging in violence or house-breaking, and never revealing more about herself than necessary. Her religious principles vary depending on her circumstances: she is fairly tolerant of different sects, and usually does not seem to think about God much. She is very fervent for a while in Newgate, but that wears off as her circumstances improve - however, she is never an atheist.

Her Nurse
a pious lady, poor but refined, who takes care of Moll in her extreme youth. She makes some money by caring for orphans.

The Mayor's Lady

a generous lady who takes Moll in as a favored maid, but doesn't like the idea of her marrying her son, although she eventually agrees. 4

The Mayor's Eldest Daughter

a sharp-tongued young lady who says that "[she has] the money and [wants] the beauty; but as times go now, the first will do without the last."

The Mayor's Youngest Daughter

also not as beautiful or talented as Moll.

The Mayor's Eldest Son (Moll's first lover)

"a gay gentleman that knew the town as well as the country." He seduces Moll by cleverly complimenting her, and giving her presents of money. He is not so in love, however, to oppose his brother's marrying her, after which they are no longer lovers.

The Mayor's Youngest Son, Robert or Robin (Moll's first husband)

a "plain and honest" young gentleman who makes "good honest professions of being in love with" Moll and "proposes fairly and honorably to marry" her. He stubbornly insists on marrying Moll, a servant girl, and obtains the consent of his mother. He made a good and agreeable husband for Moll, but she was never in love with him.

The Gentleman-Draper (Moll's second husband)

"A tradesman ... that was something of a gentleman too," he "had this excellence, that he valued nothing of expense and... tis enough to tell you that in about two years and a quarter he broke, and was not so happy to get over into the Mint, but got into a sponging-house, being arrested in an action too heavy for him to give bail." He has good manners and is very civil to Moll, but his expensive habits, including traveling pretending to be a lord, ruins them financially.

Moll's Widowed Friend

While in the Mint, Moll meets this "very sober, good sort of a woman," who invites her home, where Moll hoped to meet and marry a captain.

Moll's Friend, who marries a captain

a young lady who follows Moll's advice to catch and humble a disdainful lover. She is clever and high-spirited.

The Captain
husband of the previous. He is proud at first, but not smart enough to escape Moll's plan, and becomes a humble and obedient husband.

Moll's Brother and Third Husband, Humphrey

"a man of infinite good nature, but... no fool." He loses much of his good nature when he discovers that Moll is his sister, and attempts suicide. Later, he becomes "old and infirm both in body and mind... very fretful and passionate, almost blind, and capable of nothing." 5

Moll's Mother and Mother-in-Law

"a mighty cheerful, good-humoured old woman." She tells Moll many entertaining stories about convicts transported to Virginia; in one of these, Moll learns the truth of her incestuous marriage. Her mother's reaction to the news is to want to keep it quiet.

Moll's Landlady at Bath

"though she did not keep an ill house, as we call it, yet had none of the best principles in herself." She kindly befriends Moll and sets her up with the Gentleman of Bath, below.

The Gentleman of Bath (Moll's second lover)

"a man of honour and virtue, as well as of great estate." He has a chaste relationship with Moll for a long time (because of his great respect for her virtue), then an unchaste one for several years, then coldly leaves her after he recovers from a serious illness. For a discussion of his morals, see Part 7.

The Woman from the North

"a north-country woman that went for a gentlewoman." She lures Moll up north and sets her up with the Lancashire husband. She is in fact a member of Moll's Lancashire husband's gang of highwaymen.

A Bank Clerk
"very honest and just to" Moll, he introduces her to the Grave Gentleman.

The Grave Gentleman (later Moll's fifth)

"a quiet, sensible, sober man; virtuous, modest, sincere, and in his business diligent and just." He divorces an unfaithful wife to marry Moll, who he believes to be virtuous. He loses heart and dies when his business fails.

Moll's Lancashire Husband (the fourth), James

"He had... the appearance of an extraordinary fine gentleman; he was tall, well-shaped, and had an extraordinary address." This gentleman is in fact an adept highwayman, but Moll finds him to be very good company, and she loves him very much. He balks at being transported, and although he can play the gentleman very well, he fears any other role, such as that of an indentured servant. See parts 9 and 17 especially.

Moll's Landlady in London

In the governess' words, "not such a nice lady as you take her to be."

Moll's Governess (the midwife)

"an eminent lady in her way." She is an unprincipled woman who manages the affairs of many whores, deals with the problems of unmarried mothers, and also eventually has a pawnshop and deals with thieves. She probably could induce abortions, and disposed of unwanted children. She is an impressive figure who poses a challenge to Moll's ideas and to the reader's as well. In one sense, her organized vice threatens everything commonly thought of as good. She is so hardened as to be immune, apparently, to feelings of guilt or affection - the feelings, in fact, which in 6

the conventional scheme of morality ideally motivate most human actions. What is so disturbing about her is not simply this inhumanity - cruel and remorseless villains are stock figures - but rather the fact that she is living proof that financial motivations work as well, if not better, than emotional ones. Moll's narrative is full of references to her governess' kind behavior: full example, once the woman sent her a roast chicken and a bottle of sherry, which she thought "surprisingly good and kind." This seeming kindness is not the result of the governess' affection for Moll; it is part of her business plan. By the same logic, the governess tells Moll that she need not scruple to give her baby to strangers: a stranger, motivated by money, will be just as loving as a natural mother.

A Pretty Child
a trusting little girl going home alone from dancing school, whose necklace is stolen by Moll.

Moll's Schoolmistress (the expert thief)

an expert at lifting gold watches from ladies' sides, she teaches Moll the tricks of the trade. She is finally caught and hanged for shoplifting.

The Pair of Thieves

"a young woman and a fellow that went for her husband, though as it appeared afterwards, she was not his wife, but they were partners,it seems, in the trade they carried on, and partners in something else. In short, they robbed together, lay together, were taken together, and at last were hanged together." Moll worked with them for a while, but thought their methods too clumsy.

The Young Fellow (thief who steals with Moll dressed as Gabriel Spencer)
"a young fellow that was nimble enough at his business." He gets caught making a rash attempt, and tries to betray Moll but doesn't know her true identity.

The Woman Thief (arrested in Moll's place)

a poor woman, who tries to betray Moll when she is arrested in her place. She is transported.

Moll's Drunken Lover

a fine but inebriated baronet who picks Moll up at a fair and is later robbed by her. He is a good honest gentleman when sober, and a pleasant but lustful one when drunk.

The Master Mercer

He pays dearly for his stubbornness in refusing to let Moll leave his shop when she is suspected of having stolen from there.

A Rude Journeyman
"Impudent and unmanly to the last degree," he treats Moll roughly.

Mr. William and Mr. Alexander 7

politer journeymen, who catch the real thief.

The Constable
"a good, substantial kind of man, and a man of good sense."

The Porter
a poor man who acts as a witness for the Mercer's rudeness.

Moll's Attorney
"a very creditable sort of man."

Lady Betty
"a little miss, a young lady of about twelve or thirteen years old," who believes Moll when she pretends to be a family friend, and loses her gold watch as a result.

Her Little Sister

about nine years old, a pretty child.

Jack the Gambler

a gentleman who lets Moll gamble with his money. He generously divides the profits with her, giving her a bad conscience since she had already stolen quite a lot.

A Goldsmith
a fair man, in whose shop Moll is surprised while planning to steal.

Sir T.B.
an alderman and a justice of the peace, who judges Moll not guilty of stealing from the goldsmith; he releases her partly because of her wealth.

Two Wenches
servants in the house where Moll is finally taken, "two fiery dragons could not have been more furious than they were." Very loyal maid-servants, they resisted the governess' attempts at bribery.

The Master (Andrew Johnson) and Mistress of the House

a fairly compassionate couple.

a thief in Newgate, who shocks Moll with her careless gaiety and lack of fear or repentance. 8

The Ordinary of Newgate

a hypocritical clergyman who spent his days trying to get prisoners to confess and getting drunk.

A Keeper at Newgate
He baldly tells Moll that she should prepare for death, but does not seem cruel.

The Minister
a good pious man who helps Moll to sincere repentance, and obtains a reprieve for her.

The Boatswain
an officer on the ship that takes Moll to Virginia. He is a generally courteous and compassionate person, but is especially so when he finds out that Moll is rich.

The Captain of the Ship

"one of the best-humoured gentlemen in the world," who was "easily brought to accommodate [Moll and James] as well as [they] could desire.

Mrs. Owen
a chairwoman who shows Moll where her brother and son live.

Moll's Son and Nephew, Humphrey

"a handsome, comely young gentleman in flourishing circumstances," a "kind, dutiful, and obliging" son to Moll.

The Quaker
"a faithful, generous, and steady friend to [Moll and James]" who helps them settle in Virginia.

Chapter Summary
Parts 1-3
Preface: Summary Defoe hopes that Moll Flanders will be taken for what he says it is, a true history, despite the fact of its heroine's real name being concealed and the multitude of novels being published at the time. He explains that he has altered Moll Flanders' style to make it more polite and modest, as befitting her supposedly reformed character. Originally its language had been "not fit to be read," as a result of Moll's debauched lifestyle. Defoe explains in detail that the story should be taken as a moral lesson rather than as a immoral novel, and that wickedness is described only in order to better illustrate its eventual downfall. In fact, the whole narrative should be turned to "virtuous and religious uses," and no one should criticize it for its questionable content. Among its moral messages are: 9

do not commit adultery. do not dress little children too finely or they might be robbed by enterprising thieves like Moll. never lose your head when your house is on fire, or you might entrust your belongings to a thief. if you are transported as punishment for a crime, industry and a sober life can lead you to prosperity... Defoe suggests that he might yet publish the individual stories of the adventures of Moll's governess in crime, and her highwayman husband. He concludes that Moll Flanders lived some years after her narrative ends, and died a wealthy woman, though she was not consistently repentant for her former misdeeds. Preface: Analysis None of this should be taken at face value. When reading this preface, and indeed all prefaces of eighteenth century novels, one should always keep in mind the secret motivations of the author. For example, despite Defoe's protestations, Moll Flanders is a novel, not a true history. The notion that it is true only serves to make it more attractive in the eyes of contemporary readers. Indeed, at that time, novels were not nearly so well established as a literary genre as they are today: the first novels nearly always described themselves as true narratives, perhaps since readers had not yet become accustomed to valuing false (or fictional) ones. Defoe's misleading description of his hard work cleaning up Moll's language is a titillating detail which adds credence to his claim to truth. Defoe's second and rather more important bit of deceit is his claim that Moll Flanders is designed to improve its readers' morals. His motivation here is quite clear: as I said earlier, novels were commonly thought to be frivolous and a bad influence. A novel like Moll Flanders, which enthusiastically recounts all kinds of misdeeds, was in great danger of being condemned on moral grounds. If Defoe could reinvent it as a useful and edifying work, he would profit. Now it remains for me to show that Moll Flanders is not a moral work. Although Defoe insists that crime is consistently punished and virtue rewarded, this is not the case. Moll begins as a pauper and ends up as a wealthy woman, entirely as a result of adultery, seduction, and theft. She glories in her beauty and cunning, and enjoys her status as a talented pickpocket: she lives by her sharp wits. She only repents when her life is danger, and never embraces virtue with any great conviction. Although she is always a good businesswoman, her success in the new world results from the careful investment of illegally gained wealth, rather than the sweat of her brow. Moll Flanders is not a moral heroine. In fact the moral message is quite different from what Defoe claims it to be, as we shall see. It is true however that the novel offers helpful tips on how to avoid theft, by carefully describing Moll's techniques. Part 1: Moll's Childhood Moll begins her narrative by saying that she does not want to let her real name be known because of her criminal record. Moll Flanders was the name given to her by her colleagues in crime. Because England had no House of Orphans, like France, where the children of executed or transported criminals could be raised, Moll began her life in a wretched condition. Her mother was convicted of having stolen some cloth, for which she was sentenced to death. She "pleaded her belly," and was given a 10

reprieve until Moll was born. Then, luckily for her, she was transported to the Virginian plantations, leaving Moll in England. Moll is not terribly clear on the subject of her earliest years, but remembers that she wandered with a tribe of gypsies for a while, and ran away from them when she was no more than three years old. In the parish of Colchester the magistrates had pity on her, and paid an impoverished gentlewoman to take care of her. The woman, who made her living by running a little school, brought her up very carefully. When Moll was eight the magistrates decided she was old enough to work for a living as a servant, but Moll hated the idea: she was afraid she wouldn't be able to do the work and would be beaten. Instead she wanted to be a "gentlewoman," by which she understood making her living doing spinning and needlework. Her adopted mother kindly decided to keep her. The Mayor was informed, and his wife and two daughters were amused by the stubborn little "gentlewoman," and befriended her. She spent a year with them, then returned to her nurse before they had time to get tired of her. Moll liked living like a real gentlewoman (she understood the work better now). Unfortunately when she was a little over fourteen, her nurse fell sick and died. Analysis: In this fairly off-hand description, which is ironically juxtaposed with the "moral" claims of the preface, Moll publicizes the bleak fate of children of criminals. Without any system to protect them, they are thrown into the world with no training in any trade and no prospects other than starvation or the same life of crime that ended so badly for their parents. (Remember that Moll's mother had been sentenced to death for having stolen three pieces of cloth). Moll herself was very lucky to be taken in: the parish (the area served by one church) were under no obligation to take care of penniless children who were not born there, or had no other particular claim to charity: "I was not a parish charge upon this or that part of the town by law." Indeed the parish officers tried to find the gypsies in order to send Moll back to them, even though they were unrelated to her and she did not like them. Legally, they could have sent the toddler out to starve: she was saved only by their compassion. Once Moll was taken in, her troubles had not come to end. An eight-year old could be made to work all day as a powerless "drudge to some cookmaid," learning no useful skills and earning no more than a meager keep. Sewing and spinning was not much better: even working all the time, a woman could not earn a living. Moll's pay, "threepence when I spin, and fourpence when I work plain work," would not even pay for her food, much less room or clothing. When her nurse died, she could not afford to set up shop for herself, and had no choice but to go into service, which she no longer protested: "The fright of my condition had made such an impression upon me, that I... was very willing to be a servant, and any kind of servant they thought fit to have me be." During Moll's period of innocence, then, we can see that, despite her hard and honest work, she is utterly dependent on the whimsical charity of the powerful - which can be withdrawn at any moment. She is lucky to be a charming child, thus gaining favor: perhaps it is better not to wonder about the fates of the ugly and charmless pauper children. Moll's natural wish is for security, and simple virtue and labor cannot give this to her. Part 2: Moll as a Maid, a Mistress, and a Wife Moll did well in the Mayor's household. An intelligent girl, she learned everything the Mayor's daughters did: dancing, French, writing, and music. Indeed, she was more naturally gifted that the daughters, and grew to be beautiful as well. She had "the character of a very sober, modest, and virtuous young woman," primarily (Moll tells us) because she had never had to occasion to be anything else. However she was vain enough to enjoy being complimented, and to expect compliments, and this led to her fall from grace. 11

The lady of the house had two sons as well as two daughters. The first was "a gay gentleman that knew the town as well as the country," and he began to subtly take notice of Moll, speaking well of her to his sisters when he knew she was in earshot. During one of these conversations, one of his sisters became piqued at his eloge of Moll, and pointed out that if a young woman had all the graces, and yet lacked money, "she's nobody." The younger brother insisted that he didn't care about money. The sister, who had a smart tongue, said that she was well off: even though she lacked other things, she had enough money to get a good husband. The elder brother replied that her husband might yet be stolen from her by a pretty mistress. This conversation served for Moll's instruction. The result of the brothers' interest in Moll was to make her less popular with the women. The elder brother began to meet Moll in private, kissing her and telling her he loved her. She (believing herself to be beautiful enough for anything) believed him and didn't object to the kisses, or to the money he gave her - more than she had ever had before. He said he would marry her when he "came to his estate." Finally he carefully arranged a rendez-vous outside the grounds, all the time concealing their relationship from his family with complicated stories. There he promised again to marry her, and also to give her 100 guineas every year till then. Moll made no resistance and her virginity was lost. This relationship continued for half a year. To Moll's embarrassment, the younger brother fell in love with her, and openly proposed honorable marriage. Moll resisted stubborn: she could not stand the idea of being "a whore to one brother, and a wife to the other." The young man's love made his family suspicious of Moll; they began to plan her departure. She asked her lover's advice, and to her horror, he counseled her to marry his brother, rather than to stop the confusion by revealing their engagement. Moll was horrified: she loved him and had believed his promises. He pointed out that he might not inherit for another thirty years, and said that since it was no longer safe for him to continue as her lover, she might as well marry the younger one, Robin. Moll was devastated and condemned his inconstancy, then fell very ill. Her continued resistance to Robin's advances made his mother look on her more favorably, and at last she consented to the marriage. Frightened by the prospect of being "turned out to the wide world as a cast-off whore," Moll finally agreed to marry Robin. Robin's brother got him drunk on his wedding night so he wouldn't notice that Moll wasn't a virgin. He also gave Moll 500 guineas in gratitude. Robin and Moll were married for five years, until Robin's death; Moll had two children by him. She never really loved him, and never ceased longing for his older brother, who was married during that time. The Mayor and his lady took the children off Moll's hands, leaving her a pretty widow with 1200 guineas. Analysis: Although Moll's seduction is recounted in an almost off-hand manner, it is quite exceptional, by what it lacks as well as what it contains. We should remember that Samuel Richardson's phenomenally popular and very long novel, Pamela, is all about a chambermaid who stubbornly resists the "fate worse than death" until her master, stunned by her fantastic virtue, finally decides to marry her. In Pamela, the girl's parents continually remind her that they would rather she be dead than deflowered: the loss of virginity takes on a supreme importance, and it is assumed that the event must cast an indelible stain on the girl's character. For Moll Flanders, it is really not that important: she does not immediately change from an innocent maiden to a debauched and wicked harlot. It does not even prevent her from following Pamela's path and marrying her master - a different master, though. She doesn't even get pregnant. In a novel which is thought by many to be all about sex, sex is not a big issue. The effect that sex does have on Moll is to 12

deepen her feelings for her lover: before, she does not seem to care for him very much out of the ordinary, and afterwards she is genuinely in love. Defoe's broad-minded approach reveals his 3-dimensional perspective on women. He does not necessarily understand women marvelously well, but at least he can perceive a grey area between "angel" and "whore," a concept not easily grasped by some even today. The subject matter which provides material for both Defoe and Richardson is ample evidence of the tenuous position of female servants in eighteenth century aristocratic houses. Maids were generally young girls, attractive prey for lustful gentlemen. A maid who resisted - if she could - or complained might be thrown out by the gentleman. A maid who submitted might be thrown out by a jealous wife or a protective mother. A maid who became pregnant might easily be cast aside, and, unable to find a position in another household, might be forced into prostitution, where she would be at a very high risk for getting "the French pox," or syphilis. Again Moll was lucky to escape with a broken heart, and a profitable marriage. One should realize that Moll passes over uneventful periods very quickly: the five years of her marriage take less than a page to describe. We never hear about her children, or what childbirth was like, or anything domestic. Moll's lack of attachment to her children is rather striking: it appears that children are only an unwanted charge for an attractive widow with no steady income. She is, however, careful to find homes for them. Part 3: Husband Number Two, the Gentleman-Tradesman A young, pretty, and quite wealthy widow, Moll was courted by many tradesmen. No longer a romantic girl, she "resolved now to be married or nothing, and to be well married or not at all." She was disappointed that the most agreeable men did not often intend marriage, and that the ones who did were usually dull. Finally she found the object of her desire: a gentleman-tradesman. Marrying him was not as good an idea as she had thought, however, for he turned out to be a "rake, gentleman, shopkeeper, and beggar, all together." The two of them would occasionally take luxurious vacations, pretending to be aristocrats and traveling around in style: thus Moll's money was spent. A little more than two years after the marriage, Moll's husband was arrested for debt. Following his advice, Moll took everything of value she could and left the house so his creditors would not be able to claim the goods. Her husband wished her well and said she might not hear form him again; he escaped from jail to France. He civilly sent her pawnshop tokens worth 100 guineas, and disappeared from her life. Moll had only 500 guineas now, and was in a difficult situation: she was not really a widow and could not remarry, but had no husband to support her. Accordingly she moved to the Mint and took an assumed name, Mrs. Flanders. There she observed the strange behavior of some debtors, who desperately spent what little money they had on unworthy amusements. Moll was shocked by their self-destructive behavior and decided not to become a whore for them. She moved again. Analysis: Much of this part deals with people who squander their wealth. Moll's second husband appears to be a nice fellow, with the good manners that Moll so approves of. (Gentlemanly behavior, in her book, is closely associated with treating women well.) She does not even become particularly bitter at having all her money wasted away on frivolous pleasures: she looks back on the marriage with irony, but without hatred. Indeed, Moll herself enjoys their little masquerades as my lord and the Countess. Moll places a great deal of importance on social status at this time in her life: she prefers to lose her money married to a gallant man who can behave like a lord, than to enrich herself as the wife of a well-to-do, but insufferably commercial tradesman. She has a flair for gay romance. Thus it is not enough to dismiss Moll - as some 13

critics have - as a woman motivated by money-lust, who profits off of men whose lust is less abstract. (Remember than her extremely profitable marriage to Robin was not what she would have chosen). The behavior of the debtors she encounters in the Mint has quite a different effect on her: whereas her attitude towards her spendthrift husband is one of annoyed tolerance, she is sincerely horrified by these. She uses words like "sin" and "wickedness" to describe their activities. The lyrical description of them suggests that this kind of behavior is a particular interest of Defoe's: "...when he has thought and pored on it till he is almost mad, having no principles to support him, nothing within him or above him to comfort him, but finding the same darkness on every side, he flied to the same relief again, viz. to drink it away, debauch it away..." Moll's narrative could exist perfectly well without this interval, which involves almost no action whatsoever. It would appear that Defoe thought it was important to describe how money troubles could lead to blank and utter despair.

Parts 4-6
Part 4: Moll's Advice on Catching a Husband A friend of Moll's, a "very sober, good sort" of widow of a ship's captain, invited her to stay with her in a seafaring community, where she could meet and marry a captain. After half a year, however, the friend married instead. Moll herself found that there were two sorts of commanders: successful ones wanted to marry wealthy women of high social status, and unsuccessful ones wanted wives with enough money or connections to get them a ship. "Marriages were here the consequences of politic schemes for forming interests, and carrying on business, and... Love had no share, or but very little, in the matter." Unfortunately, there were more women wanting to be married than men wanting to marry them, which gave men a substantial advantage in the matrimonial market. A young lady, Moll's friend, who was possessed of a handsome 2000 guineas, was courted by a young captain. However, when she made a few inquiries about his character and his financial standing, he took offense and abandoned her. She was very unhappy, but her fortunes improved when she followed Moll's advice: Moll told her that she must revenge herself, in order to save her reputation and that of women in general. She told her to spread the news that she had found out unsavory things about the captain's history and character (including that he had not paid for his share in his ship, and was already married to a woman in Plymouth and another in the West Indies). This had the effect of making the captain unpopular with the families of the other girls he wanted to court. Moll's friend also arranged to have a young gentleman, a relative of hers, to visit her often in a very fine carriage; she spread the news that she was going to marry him. At this, the young captain returned to her and begged for his forgiveness. She treated him coldly, forced him to clear up all the lies she had made up about him, and refused to let him make any inquiries about her. They were married according to her wishes. Moll concludes this adventure by calling upon all women to stand their ground when dealing with men, and to show that they are not afraid of saying No. Although there may be more women than men, there are so few decent men that a woman cannot be too careful when getting married, especially since she risks more than her husband. Men will only respect women more for showing that they are not desperate. Analysis: 14

This part is an interesting variety of social commentary. The notion that London marriages are based on money rather than love is apparently not surprising enough in itself to add much spice to the novel, but Moll's reaction to it certainly does. Rather than bemoan the immorality of mercenary marriages (she was taught that lesson by the behavior of her first lover), she reasonably investigates techniques that will improve women's positions within the corrupt system. She and her female friends are all notably women on their own: the stereotype of young girls being married to young men according to the arrangements made by their powerful parents does not hold. High mortality (especially among sailors) led to large populations of widows who needed to marry again in order to establish themselves comfortably - and one can imagine that death in childbed also left many widowers. A young girl living at home might be completely controlled by her parents, but a widow with some money of her own is in a completely different situation. She must look out for herself and negotiate for herself. Living in an urban environment also adds to the relative independence of a marriageable widow: a widow in London would be unlikely to own any land or even a house. Her wealth would be in the form of money, and she could easily move to a different neighborhood among entirely different people. Moll's advice has nothing to do with love, and everything to do with business. Men start out with better matrimonial credit: they are not under the same time pressure to marry as women are, and there are fewer of them because of "the wars, and the sea, and trade." At the same time, property laws favored men in marriage: unless other provisions were carefully made, the wife's wealth would be under her husband's control, without the opposite being true. Moll's use of gossip and scandal is designed to reduce the captain's credit by suggesting that he is not financially sound, and that he has a history of treating women badly: even with the shortage of men, no wealthy woman would want to marry him under those circumstances. In the other direction, the fake courtship that the young lady devises increases her own credit by making her appear more desirable. Moll's broader ideas suggest a kind of united front of women: if all women together refuse to marry men who treat them badly, a rude lover would not be able to simply abandon his fiancee and go next door when she protests his rudeness. This is very similar to unionization: these women would be doing the equivalent of refusing to work for less than a minimum amount. Thus, in economic terms: the supply of women wanting to be married is greater than the demand for wives, so women must settle for bad husbands - unless they organize, and concertedly raise their standards, putting pressure on men to shape up. Part 5: How to Marry Rich When You're Poor: Moll's Third Husband Returning the favor Moll had done for her, the newly married captain's lady invited Moll to stay with her and her husband, and told her husband that Moll had at least 1500 guineas, and would inherit quite a bit more. This gained Moll many admirers, and she picked out her man: he, believing that she was rich, made all sorts of protestations of adoration, implying that he did not care if she were poor. They flirtatiously wrote the following exchange on a pane of glass with a diamond ring: He: You I love, and you alone. She: And so in love says every one. He: Virtue alone is an estate. She: But money's virtue, gold is fate. 15

He: I scorn your gold, and yet I love. She: I'm poor: let's see how kind you'll prove. He: Be mine, with all your poverty. She: Yet secretly you hope I lie. He: Let love alone be our debate. She: She loves enough that does not hate. Thus he married her, believing her to be rich, although she jokingly said she was poor. Then she seriously reduced his expectations of her wealth so that he was happy to get anything at all. They then moved to his plantations in Virginia, surviving an eventful voyage, and moved in with his mother and sister there. Analysis: This part is all about the careful manipulation of Moll's new husband: Moll manages to deceive him without ever overtly lying, thus making it impossible for him to accuse her of the deception. Moll shows that she is willing to take substantial risks, repeatedly telling him that she is poor, relying entirely on his tendency to take men's words more seriously than those of women. He had been told, after all, by the captain, that she was rich. Moll shows a great deal of cleverness in breaking the news of her true poverty after the wedding: after first making him worry that she had nothing at all, she gave him her money in installments of about 150 guineas, so that each new sum was a welcome surprise. She also had refused to go to Virginia before they were married, so her agreement to go afterwards was another nice surprise to balance the disappointment of her finances. We can see by Moll's clever behavior and witty poetry that she has learned a great deal in her first two marriages, and careful observations of human mores. She no longer depends on luck, or the benevolence of the powerful, but rather on her own wits. The difference between colonial America as viewed by Americans, and as viewed by the colonizing English, is worth noticing. We are in the 17th century, long before any breath of revolution: Virginia is simply a place where good money can be made. Moll does not want to live there permanently, as we shall soon see: the colonies are a means to an end, and England is home. Part 6: Moll's Husband is her Brother At first Moll was very happy in Virginia: her mother-in-law was very good company, and so was her husband. Her mother-in-law told her many entertaining stories about the inhabitants of the colony: most of them had come over as slaves or indentured servants, or as convicted felons from Newgate. Such people were bought by planters and worked in the fields until their time was out; then they were given a certain amount of land, and could become wealthy and respectable. Then the old woman made a personal revelation: she herself had been transported, and had a brand on her arm to prove it. The details of her story convinced Moll, to her horror, that her mother-in-law was also her true mother. Moll had by this time had two children by her own brother, and was pregnant with a third. She did not tell anyone of her horrible discovery, but was terribly oppressed by it; also, she was afraid that if she told, she would be divorced without being believed, and left helpless far from her native land. Thus she lived for three more years, but without having any more children (she refused to sleep with her husband). Her relationship with 16

him deteriorated drastically, and she requested to go to England. He was angry, and asked how she could stand to abandon her children (she did not want to see them ever again), and threatened to have her put in a madhouse. Finally she told him that she knew something which meant that their marriage was not lawful. He was very frightened and wanted to know what it was: he thought she was a bigamist (which might have been true as well!). He got his mother to ask Moll why she was so disturbed, and Moll answered that the secret of it lay within the old woman. Finally Moll told her mother the true story; she was horrified to hear about it, but wanted to keep it quiet. Moll couldn't stand it any more, and said she would tell her brother if her mother did not. Finally, Moll exacted a promise from her husband that she would not be blamed, and told him to truth. He considered suicide, and in fact tried to hang himself a few days later, but was cut down in time. Finally they decided that she would go to England, that he would continue to support her as a sister, and would "receive news" that she had died, allowing him to marry again. She returned to England, having spent eight years in Virginia, but unfortunately most of the cargo that was to have supported her was lost in a storm. Analysis: It is not very flattering for the American ego to see that 18th century English people thought of America as a rather undesirable place which was largely inhabited by unwilling immigrants: slaves and transported convicts. It is only after American independence that Britain began to transport criminals to Australia instead (apparently the loss of a convenient sink for undesirables caused enough crowding in Newgate to justify shipping them halfway around the world). The highly emotional reactions of the various people involved to the news of Moll and her husband's incestuous relationship covers a whole range of outlooks on sexual sin. Incest is a very terrible thing to her: she becomes genuinely sick at the thought of intercourse with her husband/brother. It does not seem to appear to her in the light of a sin - she faces sin with relative equanaminity. This is more of an instinctive horror, like a fear of snakes. The reaction of her husband falls more into the ground of conventional morality: he wants to kill himself to remove the taint of sin, while Moll just wants to leave. Their mother seem to be more motivated by regard for conventions than anything else: she would actually prefer to have her children continue cohabiting, than risk the scandal of separation. Thus Moll is motivated by a sort of instinctive natural morality, her husband/brother by a more religious sense of guilt and sacrifice, and their mother by a concern for keeping up appearances. Incidentally, it would be interesting to know where Moll found out about her origins, given the fact that she ran away from the gypsies at the age of three. It hardly seems likely that at that age she would remember her mother's fate and the crime for which she had been transported, her name, and so on. Defoe never explains this, probably for the good reason that he could not. Moll's situation at the end of this part is not tremendously favorable: she does not seem to be able to rely on her brother for continued financial assistance, and she is no longer very young, though still pretty.

Chapters 7-9
Part 7: The Gentleman at Bath Moll was in England with 200 or 300 guineas and no friends: the woman who had set her up with her brother was dead, as was her captain husband. Moll was in any case not anxious to meet anyone who knew about her incestuous marriage, since she was now pretending to be unmarried. She moved to Bath and enjoyed herself, having become "a woman of fortune though I was a woman without a fortune." Living 17

gaily she soon ran out of money, and didn't meet any man who wanted a wife. She made friends with her landlady, who charged her very little and fostered her friendship with a gentleman lodger in the same house. This man was aware of her poverty and thought she was a widow. He gave her money, without asking for sexual favors, and she nursed him during an illness. They lived together on familiar terms for two years without sex, although they would occasionally share a bed: the gentleman wished to demonstrate how much he respected her. However, one evening when they had drunk a little too much, their contract of chastity was broken, and after that she was frankly his mistress. She became pregnant and gave birth under the assumed name of Lady Cleve, wife of Sir Walter Cleve, to avoid scandal. She had a "fine boy" and lived quite happily, but with enough foresight to save as much money as she could, knowing that nothing lasts forever. The gentleman, incidentally, was married, but his wife was insane, so Moll provided muchneeded companionship. They lived together for six years, and Moll bore three children, but only the first one survived. Then Moll learned that her lover was ill and at his house where she could not visit (his wife's family would not approve). She heard little from him after that, and was afraid he would die and leave her resourceless. In fact he did not die, but his illness made him repent, and he didn't want to see Moll anymore. She asked him for 50 guineas to travel back to Virginia, and left him the child to bring up: though she was very fond of the boy, she was not sure she would be able to maintain him. Analysis: Although people often associate Moll Flanders with prostitution, she is never a streetwalker. In fact she is rarely even a mistress: this is only the second time that she is in a sexual relationship without marriage. It is surely one of the most bizarre such affairs ever to be depicted in literature, perhaps because of the opacity with which it is described. Moll only hints at the emotional motivations of her lover and herself, which results in the comical picture of a middle-aged couple in bed, strenuously avoiding immorality. We can imagine that Moll provides emotional support and consolation for her lover, that he loves her and she is fond of him. But our imagination is left pretty much on its own. Their adulterous relationship certainly does not appear romantic, nor is it interestingly sinful. When the man decides to leave Moll after his illness, Moll first indulges in some melodramatic thoughts of guilt, then prosaically extracts as much money as she can from him, and goes on her way. This novel is evidently very different from the psychological works of Dostoyevsky and his nineteenth century colleagues. This stubbornly unemotional affair provides an immense contrast to her previous marriage. With this dry romance, Defoe mocks Moll's lover's theatrical notions of morality. His insistence on sleeping chastely in her bed to demonstrate his great respect for her virtue, and his coldness to her after his illness, both seem equally risible. Moll needs money to survive, not respect. A genuine attachment would not be dissolved by a fright, causing the man to consciously leave his companion of six years and the mother of his child without an income: if he were truly good, he would continue to support her. Part 8: Moll Looks for Another Husband After these negotiations with her estranged lover, and others with her brother in Virginia, Moll found herself single, 42 years old, and in possession of about 450 guineas. She lost 70 of these due to the failure of a goldsmith in whose hands she had left some of the money. Moll was a little worried - although she had not yet begun to wear make-up, a thing she despised, she was undeniably no longer very young, and had no friends or advisors. Being a woman without connections, she had little access to the public sphere of business - thus she had not known that the goldsmith was financially unsound. She wanted very much to get married to a "sober, good husband," and be a "faithfull and true wife." She pretended she had a fortune of three or four thousand, but nothing showed up until she met a woman from the north, who (thinking she was rich) sweetly invited her to come visit her family there. Moll was attracted by the idea that living was cheaper in the north, and decided to go, but was unsure what to do with her money. 18

She went to a bank clerk she knew to be honest, and asked for advice. He recommended that she visit "a grave man of his acquaintance," who would help her. She told this man that she was a widow, desolate and friendless, and afraid of losing what money she had. They got along very well, and she was sorry to find out that he was married. In their various meetings, however, it turned out that his wife was unfaithful, and had left him with another man. They discussed a possible divorce, and he asked Moll if she would marry him when he did get a divorce. She was pleased to hear this, but pretended not to take him seriously, and behaved modestly and respectably. He became even more enamoured of Moll and asked her to marry him then, though they would live apart until the divorce came through - or else to sign a contract promising to marry him. She liked this, but having hopes of the north country, avoiding anything binding, and thus leaving her money and suitor in London, went to the north. Analysis: In this episode, the metaphor of Moll as money (Moll is a commodity: she can exchange her love and sexual favors for money) is developed in a new direction. Previously, the question of interest has been how much Moll is worth: how much money must a lover give her? how much need a husband have? When this grave gentleman is considered for his worthiness as a possible husband, it is not merely his personal wealth and how much he thinks Moll has that decides whether or not he will marry her, and she will marry him. Instead, Moll encounters him in the role of a financial steward, someone who would take care of her money. Her money, remember, can be thought of as a symbol for herself. At the end of each affair, she takes account of the change in her finances - this financial evaluation takes the place of a psychological or emotional analysis. Moll becomes convinced that the grave gentleman would take care of her money (herself) very well, and this leads her naturally to think that he would make a good husband. Interestingly, this development of Moll's association of herself with her money makes her actions appear less mercenary. She is no longer overtly trying to accumulate as much wealth as she can - instead she wants to preserve what she has. No one could say that self-preservation is an unnaturally mercenary objective. The question of divorce is also interesting in this part. It doesn't take long to figure out that divorce in Moll's time was not like it is today. It is considered as a last resort: the grave gentleman objects that it would be "very tedious and expensive." (Even in the seventeenth century, lawyers were apparently rapacious.) A more reasonable approach, he thinks, would be a common-law divorce - he would simply have nothing more to do with his unfaithful wife, who was in any case living with another man. The problem with this approach is that he would then have to content himself with a common-law marriage. He worried that, in that case, no "honest woman" would have him, and he didn't want have anything to do with "the other sort." His suggestion that Moll could "marry" him before the divorce went through reflects the shaky hold of legal terminology on contemporary lives. People could consider themselves to be married or divorced, when in fact the law knew nothing of the matter. This was no doubt a reaction to expensive and unfriendly courts, where officials were probably more concerned with feathering their own nests than with justice. Part 9: Moll Falls in Love and Gets Married and Unmarried in the North Moll's own trickery was outdone by that of her northern friend, who brought her to a noble estate, where the family entertained her like a lady of great fortune. They were Roman Catholics, which did not disturb Protestant Moll much: she "had not so much principle of any kind as to be nice in point of religion." After staying there for six weeks, Moll's northern friend brought her to a village to meet the man she called her brother. This gentleman, believing her to have about 1500 guineas, courted her assiduously, and he himself appeared to have a good estate of at least 1000 guineas a year. He "ran in debt like a madman for 19

the expenses of his equipage and of his courtship." Moll was dazzled and married him, sparing a few regrets for her grave gentleman in London. After they had been married for a month, they were going to move to Ireland and the question of Moll's fortune came up. Moll's husband was under the impression that she would have to go to London to transfer it. She was unaware that he thought her so rich, and called his sister, her northern friend, in to clarify matters. When it became clear that Moll had no fortune, and her northern friend had deceived her brother, he was absolutely furious and desperate. His "sister" was in fact his former mistress, who had been sent to London with the particular design of finding him a rich wife, for he had no more estate than Moll. Despite these fearful revelations, Moll was pleased by her husband's kindness to herself. She offered him all the money she had with her, about 20 guineas, which he refused to touch - in fact he threw his remaining 50 guineas on the table and bade her take them. Moll was impressed by his gentlemanly behavior, and thought: "'Tis something of a relief to be undone by a man of honour, rather than by a scoundrel." The next morning Moll found that he had disappeared, leaving behind some money and an apologetic note saying that she should go to London and marry again, if she could. She was heartbroken and wept all day, calling his name, Jemmy (a nickname for James). In the evening he reappeared, and admitted that he had seemed to hear her voice calling him back. Moll offered to go with him anywhere, and he said that he would at least escort her to London, but refused to take back any of the money that he had left with her. They lived together for a week, and Moll tried to convince James to go with her to Virginia, where they could make good. He had similar ideas about Ireland, and it was settled that he would try to improve his circumstances in Ireland, and if that failed, they would go together to Virginia. Then they reluctantly parted, though they exchanged addresses so they would be able to write. Analysis: Defoe's placement of this episode reveals him to be a careful and talented writer, attune to the moods of his audience. By this point, Moll's loveless relationships had begun to pall somewhat: they were too similar to financial transactions. Her strangely romantic marriage with James reasserts her as a truly human being, rather than an attractive cash register. Moll begins to love James after she discovers that he was both a deceiver and deceived in their marriage, not before. Perhaps this means that she can feel close to him because she knows that he, like herself, is a non-respectable person fighting to survive in a respectable society. She does not need to conceal her past from him, although in fact she does not tell him her real name or complete history. Moll seems to have a soft spot for sinners: she loved her first seducer, but not his upright brother. She was rather fond of her bankrupt linen-draper husband, but not particularly of her Virginia husband, or her moral lover from Bath. The supernatural incident - James hearing Moll calling his name even though he was far away - comes as a surprise in this extremely ungothic novel. Perhaps it serves to demonstrate that this will be Moll's true love - her only love where she doesn't care about money. It is reminiscent of a very different novel, Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, in which the lovers hear each other's voices at a crucial moment when they are miles apart. Jane Eyre was written long after Moll Flanders - it would be interesting to know if Charlotte Bronte was inspired by Defoe in this case. Given what we know about Defoe's religious ideas, Moll's tolerant attitude towards Roman Catholicism is further evidence that lack of principles can be better than staunch belief in rigid rules. Defoe was educated 20

for the Dissenting Protestant ministry but decided that the clergy was not for him. Moll probably speaks for him when she points out that differences in belief are usually the results of "prejudice in education," and that if her father had been Catholic, she would have been happy in that religion. The seventeenth century, in which the novel takes place, saw the English King Charles I deposed and executed, replaced by a Puritanical dictatorship led by Cromwell. Although Cromwell's death resulted in the reinstatement of Charles' son, Charles II, the religious troubles of England were not yet over: Charles II was succeeded by his Catholic-leaning brother, James II, who was dethroned in favor of the Protestant William and Mary in the Glorious Revolution. In the same period, French Protestants lived with difficulty under their Catholic King Louis XIV. Defoe, with his international experience, must have decided that strict religious principles were not worth the bloodshed and division they caused.

Chapters 10-12
Part 10: Moll Meets her Governess, and Gives Birth to Jame's Child Back in London, Moll remembered her husband fondly, but her "pleasure was very much lessened when [she] found some time after that [she] was really with child." This was very difficult, since she had no friends and no visible husband. The grave gentleman's divorce proceedings went slowly, which suited her, since she did not want him to see her pregnant. The people where Moll lodged noticed her pregnancy and became rather unfriendly. Moll became ill and melancholy, but did not miscarry - although she would have been glad to, she would not try to on purpose. Finally the woman of the house introduced her to an extraordinary midwife. Moll told her that she was married, but the midwife did not care one way or the other: "all the ladies who came under her care were married women to her." The midwife invited Moll to move to her house, where the parish authorities would not trouble her - she had an agreement with them that they would not be troubled with the children born there. She then offered Moll the choice of three levels of service, all covering, to a more or less luxurious extent, three months lodging and board, a nurse and use of linen for the birth, a minister, god-fathers, and a clerk for the christening, a supper for the christening, her midwife fees, and the service of a maid. Moll chose the least expensive, which came out to a little more than 13 guineas. The midwife (referred to as Moll's governess) turned out to have a number of lines of work, mostly not respectable. The ladies who lodged and gave birth in her house were mostly whores, and although she did not permit assignations in the house, it seemed probable that she was a madam and oversaw their illicit activities. She would also officiate at births outside of her house, and for a sum of money would take the child of the hands of the parents and of the parish. It is not clear what happened to these children, although the governess told Moll that they "were honestly provided for and taken care of." The governess also implied that she would be willing to abort Moll's child, which scandalized our heroine. Moll was hard put at first to see where her governess made a profit, but gradually came to understand that "the whoring account" made up for what she lost in providing cheap services for unmarried mothers. She was on all accounts an excellent and efficient madam. In May, before Moll gave birth she heard from the grave gentleman that he had almost obtained the divorce. She put him off with some scruples, and wrote to him that she would return around the end of the year. About a month after Moll's child was born, the gentleman wrote again and said that, not only had the divorce come through, but also his estranged wife had committed suicide, thus unquestionably freeing him to marry again. Moll discussed the matter with her governess: she had to solve the problem of what to do with her baby. At first she did not want to put the child out to nurse, fearing that an unrelated woman would not have the necessary affection to take care of the child correctly. Her governess convinced her that by paying a little extra money each year, she would be able to assure herself of the child's well-being: 21

the foster parents would be motivated by the money to take care of the baby tenderly. (This was an alternative to paying the foster family a lump sum, which Moll feared would make them want to get rid of the child as soon as possible.) Thus Moll gave the baby to a countrywoman, along with 10 guineas down and the promise of 5 more each year, if it continued in good health. Analysis: Moll's governess is an impressive figure who poses a challenge to Moll's ideas and to the reader's as well. In one sense, her organized vice threatens everything commonly thought of as good. She is so hardened as to be immune, apparently, to feelings of guilt or affection - the feelings, in fact, which in the conventional scheme of morality ideally motivate most human actions. What is so disturbing about her is not simply this inhumanity - cruel and remorseless villains are stock figures - but rather the fact that she is living proof that financial motivations work as well, if not better, than emotional ones. Moll's narrative is full of references to her governess' kind behavior: full example, once the woman sent her a roast chicken and a bottle of sherry, which she thought "surprisingly good and kind." This seeming kindness is not the result of the governess' affection for Moll; it is part of her business plan. By the same logic, the governess tells Moll that she need not scruple to give her baby to strangers: a stranger, motivated by money, will be just as loving as a natural mother. Economics can now dictate morality. The obvious question is how much Defoe supports this perspective. The answer is complicated: the governess' case is good enough that we cannot simply reject it with horror. Indeed, the same philosophy is routinely employed today, when the government seeks to encourage charitable behavior with tax reductions, etc. However, the governess' implicit suggestion that ordinary loving human relationships can be replaced by business contracts without any damage is profoundly disturbing. Moll shivers and turns pale, naturally enough, when she has this conversation with her: "She asked me if she had not been careful and tender to me in my lying in, as if I had been her own child. I told her I owned she had. 'Well, my dear,' says she, 'and when you are gone, what are you to me? And what would it be to me if you were to be hanged? ... Yes, yes, child,' says she, 'fear it not; how were we nursed ourselves? Are you sure you was nursed up by your own mother? and yet you are fat and fair, child..." Her hypnotic speech and uncanny knowledge are convincing, but, like Moll, we do not want to succumb. Defoe forces the reader to think and doubt preconceived notions, but does not provide clear answers to the questions he has posed: is the governess right? Is she entirely wrong? Part 11: Moll Marries the Grave Gentleman and is Good Moll cautiously traveled part of the way to Lancashire in the north, before taking the stage back to meet the grave gentleman. This also allowed her to hide her path from her governess. Her gentleman met her at Brickhill, and said that they would spend the night in a good inn there. Moll realized that he was planning to get married that very night, and although she made objections when he told her so, she let herself be convinced by the divorce papers, a pretty ring, and some ardent protestations on his part. She felt guilty to be marrying such a sober man when she had led such a disreputable life. They were married privately and didn't get up till noon the next day. Then Moll was frightened to see her Lancashire husband (apparently no longer in Ireland) go into the inn opposite with two other horsemen. She was afraid her bigamy would be discovered, and was relieved to see the horsemen leave. That evening people arrived with news that there had been a robbery, and that three highwaymen had passed that way. Moll managed to divert suspicion from her Lancashire husband by saying that he was a respectable gentleman. A few days later Moll and her new husband went to London. 22

There the couple lived happily for five years. Moll lived quietly and repented her wicked past, or thought she did. She had only two children, and was by the end of the five years 48, and past the age of motherhood. Unfortunately then her husband's business failed when a clerk absconded with the money. Her husband did not recover from the disappointment, and fell into a lethargy and died. Moll was terrified: she had little beauty or money. For two years she slowly spent what she had, living in fear and misery. Analysis: In this part, and especially the one which follows, in which Moll begins a life of crime, it becomes increasingly obvious that virtue is closely linked to prosperity and security. As long as Moll has a comfortable income and prospects of continued stability, she glories in respectability: "Now I seemed landed in a safe harbour, after the stormy voyage of life past was at an end, and I began to be thankful for my deliverance. I sat many an hour by myself, and wept over the remembrance of past follies, and the dreadful extravagances of a wicked life, and sometimes I flattered myself that I sincerely repented." The natural relief that Moll feels at having escaped the perils of the adventurous life is easily confused with the relief of no longer needing to sin. Through the social implications of Moll's experiences, Defoe is encouraging his readers not to judge criminals and sinners too harshly, without considering the differences between their positions and those of more respectable folk. This message is strengthened by the reaction of Moll's sober husband to the failure of his business. Although he is a pattern of virtue while he does well, he does not have the necessary moral energy to save himself or his family when his clerk runs off with the money. Moll, an extremely energetic person who had risen under numerous misfortunes, was well aware of this: "the loss... was not so great neither but that, if he had had spirit and courage to have looked his misfortunes in the face, his credit was so good that, as I told him, he would easily recover it." His virtue seems to be strong, but is only useful when he is already in a good financial position, and does not prevent him from weakly abandoning his family and dying. Perhaps a genuinely good person would combine both his principles, and Moll's energy - but would such a combination be possible? It seems that Moll's determination to live is directly related to her willingness to sin to that end. Does Defoe really believe in the possibility of true goodness? Part 12: Moll Becomes a Thief Finally, terrified by the prospect of approaching penury, Moll went out and stole a little bundle left unattended on a stool in a shop. She walked at random for quite a while, then returned home and found that the bundle contained some good linen, some silver, and money. She was distressed and felt guilty, but finally went out, a few days later, to steal again. She met a pretty little child wearing her mother's necklace, going home from dancing school by herself, and tricked her into an alley, where she removed the necklace unseen. She was briefly tempted to kill the child, but, frightened by her own thought, sent the girl home safely. She comforted herself by thinking that the child was safe and sound, and that her parents would be more careful of her in the future. After this she had a number of other adventures: among other things, she once acquired a packet of silk and velvet that a thief, being pursued, tossed to her. She also broke a pane of glass and stole two rings left on the window-sill inside, after checking that no one was there. Moll went to see her old governess to find a way to sell her stolen goods. Her governess was no longer a flourishing madam - she had been sued by a gentleman whose daughter she had helped to steal away from him - and had turned pawnbroker instead. She said that she would see Moll's goods. For a while Moll lived with her making her living by sewing, and made arrangements for her youngest son's care. Soon, however, she was tempted again and stole a silver tankard. She told her governess what she had done, and it became clear that her governess was not just a pawnbroker, but a leader of thieves and a receiver of stolen goods as well. She introduced Moll to a thief who taught her shoplifting and stealing ladies' gold 23

watches. They worked together and did very well: the experienced thief would bump into a lady from one side, and Moll stole her watch from the other. While the other thief and the victim calmed down, Moll would disappear, and her teacher would deflect attention onto other people. Soon Moll had near 200 guineas, but she kept on with her dishonest work, hoping to make enough to be able to retire. She had a fright when her teacher and another thief were caught. They both claimed to be pregnant, and one was eventually freed during the reprieve that bought them, but Moll's teacher was hanged, since she was an old offender. Moll stopped stealing until one day, when a gentlewoman's house was on fire. She went to the house, pretending to have been sent by another gentlewoman of the same neighborhood, and offered to help. The harried lady gave her two young children and a packet of silver to bring to safety. Moll brought the children to the nearby gentlewoman's house, and kept the packet, which proved to contain some gold as well, including the lady's wedding ring. Moll felt guilty, but it wore off. Analysis: This section contains many descriptions of acts of theft and deception. There is not a great deal of character development: we hear that Moll felt guilty but became hardened to her new life, which seems natural and not particularly striking. Instead, the interest here lies within the descriptions themselves: Defoe is revealing tricks, against which his readers will learn to defend themselves. He makes this much clear in the prologue, where he claims these descriptions as evidence of his moral intent. It is probably clear by now that, although Moll Flanders does carry a moral message, it is not the straightforward one advertised by the prologue. Defoe's readers are not learning what a terrible thing thievery is, but rather useful skills for how to avoid being victims of it - or maybe even how to engage in it themselves. The eighteenth-century reader of novels was interested in many things. On a historical level, it is interesting to note how much value is given to things: people like Moll routinely risk their lives in order to steal a piece of velvet or silk. Before the era of industrialization, the production of objects took an immense amount of labor: a piece of cloth could be the result of many hours of work, though stealing it might only take a minute. Even though labor was very cheap, the sheer amount of it which was required to make an object added up to make theft a profitable line of business. For example, the governess bought a lady's watch that Moll stole for 20 guineas, presumably less than it was worth, since it was stolen; 20 guineas would have supported one of Moll's children for 4 years. It would be by no means easy for Moll to make a living doing honest work, but she grows rich rapidly as a pickpocket. The fate of Moll's children by her sober husband is not clear. In the previous part, she referred to two children, but in this one she only mentions one son, and does so very briefly indeed. Her maternal instincts have apparently somewhat faded.

Chapters 13-15
Part 13: Moll as a Full-Fledged Thief Moll was by now quite rich, but continued her new trade, motivated more now by avarice than by want. She avoided shops, especially those selling cloth, where the shopkeepers were very watchful. New shops, run by inexperienced people, were thought to be safe, however. Moll worked for a while with a young couple who "robbed together, lay together, were taken together, and at last were hanged together." She refused to break into a house with them, thinking it too dangerous, and indeed the couple were arrested and hanged, despite their youth. 24

Moll's governess found good projects, and divided the booty with the thieves who carried them out. In one of these, she knew of a good amount of smuggled Flanders lace hidden in a private house. Moll went to a custom-house officer and told him where it was, on condition that she should get her share of it. They went to the house and she hid 50 guineas of it on her person while taking it out of its hiding place, and also bargained for another 50 openly with the officer. There was about 300 worth in all. Moll liked this line of work - safer than stealing watches - and engaged in it whenever she could. After five years of thievery, Moll became an adept and well-known thief, incurring the envy of some of her colleagues. She was first called Moll Flanders, the name she adopted as a pseudonym. Dressed as a man, she worked with a young fellow shoplifting for a while, until they were surprised and pursued after he insisted on a risky job. The man was taken. Moll fled to her governess' house and changed into woman's clothes, so that she was pretending to sew and mind a child when the constables came to search. The young man tried to gain favor by revealing his accomplice, but was unable to locate the person he thought was "Gabriel Spencer" (Moll never told him she was a woman). Moll left town for a few weeks and lay low. Despite her wealth, and the danger of her trade, she continued to steal. Once she stole a fine piece of damask and entrusted it to a comrade, who was taken shortly thereafter, while Moll hid in a lace shop. Moll was sorry for the poor woman, who tried to improve her position by saying that a Mrs. Flanders had given her the bundle to carry home. The authorities could not find Moll, since she was careful never to tell anyone her true name, or where she lodged, or anything that could endanger her. The other woman was transported instead of being hanged. By this time everyone who had known Moll Flanders by that name was either hanged or transported, except for her old governess, so she was relatively comfortable and secure. Analysis: Moll Flanders was an exceptionally successful thief because of the precautions she took: she never revealed more about herself than absolutely necessary, protecting herself from incriminating witnesses, and she avoided jobs that she considered too clumsy and dangerous. The necessary lack of trust which results from leading an immoral or illegal life does not seem to burden her too much, but she evidently makes no new close friends during this period of her life. She does not appear to be particularly happy either: she lives in fear of being taken or betrayed, and her successes are tainted by remorse. Moll's profits off smuggled Flanders lace were indirectly caused by the trade wars between England and the Netherlands during this period. Both countries were important naval powers which derived much of their wealth from trade, and hence came into conflict. They struggled for dominance over profitable shipping routes, fought naval battles, and England imposed many punitive restrictions on Dutch goods, apparently including Flanders lace. The Netherlands did well in spite of British hostilities until 1670, when Britain and France joined together against the Dutch republic, ultimately ending its golden age. Part 14: Moll Has a Lover - a Glance at Harlotry During Bartholomew Fair Moll met a rich gentleman who fell to talking with her, and finally invited her into a coach with him. After some resistance, she agreed, and soon found out that he was quite drunk and in an amorous frame of mind. They went to an inn he knew, and he "did what he pleased with" her. Then they went in the coach again, where the gentleman eventually fell asleep. Moll quietly left, taking along his gold watch, purse, periwig, gloves, and sword. She thought his behavior ridiculous - she was, after all, over fifty, and he probably had a loving wife and children at home. In any case she thought that drunken men who went to whores were behaving stupidly: even during the act, the women were motivated by avarice rather 25

than pleasure, and would pick their clients' pockets if they could. One acquaintance of Moll's even kept a purse of fake coins and a gilded watch with her so she could exchange them for the real objects during her clients' distraction. Besides losing their money, men who went to whores risked catching "the pox," syphilis, which they would then transmit to their wives, who would give birth to congenitally infected children Moll's governess thought she knew the gentleman, and went to see him. He was pretending that he had been robbed, and hadn't told his wife about Moll - he wasn't eager for the truth to get out. The governess discreetly offered to sell him back his lost possessions, and did so - except Moll sent back the sword for free. He was, by and large, a pleasant and harmless baronet, who didn't blame Moll for her theft, especially since the governess told him that Moll was an innocent and impoverished widow who had never slept with anyone besides her husband. In fact, the gentleman wanted to see Moll again, so the governess set them up, and Moll spent the next year safely living off what he occasionally gave her. Then, as she expected, he tired of the affair and did not return, so Moll took up her old trade. Analysis: In the 17th and 18th centuries, prostitution was widespread in London. This was probably the result of a social system in which poor women could hardly make an honest living, and completely lost their reputations if they were seduced, thus making it almost impossible to get an honest job. A "fallen woman" had little choice but to remain on the ground. Also, men could not engage in extramarital sex with respectable women, and commonly married late. Moll's meditation on the lack of sensuality of whores is reminiscent of one "medical" theory held that prostitutes did not become pregnant because they felt no pleasure, which was thought to be required for conception. Other authorities said that too much intercourse prevented conception. Of course, as we have seen with Moll's governess, prostitutes were as fertile as anyone else. Syphilis was probably introduced into Europe from the Americas, in exchange for small pox and a host of other diseases. It appeared in Naples in 1493, and ravaged its way through Europe, known generally as the French Pox, except in France where it was called the Naples Disease (le mal de Naples). It was treated in a variety of harmful and ineffective ways, including the use of mercury, a dangerous poison. Some people argued that it could not be sexually transmitted because so many monks had it! But by the time of Moll Flanders, there was apparently little doubt that it was a venereal disease. It appears commonly in 18th century engravings as a punishment suffered by lustful sinners, weakening aristocratic families when infected children were born. Part 15: Moll Sues a Rude Tradesman, and Other Adventures Another trick of Moll's was to dress like a poor woman and wait around inns where stage-coaches passed, where she would offer to watch packages for weary and harried travelers. She also stole goods from warehouses by finding out the contents of boxes and presenting forged letters describing them, so that they were delivered to her. One day, when Moll was dressed as a widow, she was seized by some men who claimed that she had stolen from their shop - in fact another thief dressed as a widow had done so. They treated her without respect, but she behaved like a respectable woman who had been deeply offended and angered. After they had made her wait for quite a while, some journeymen came back with the true thief. The master of the shop tried to buy Moll off, but she was determined to sue him for damages. Her governess got her an 26

honest lawyer and eventually, after a good deal of bargaining, she settled for 150 guineas, a humble apology, and a new silk suit of clothes. Moll now had 700 guineas, and was the wealthiest thief in England. Moll went out dressed as a beggar a few times, and stole a horse that she had been given to hold, but gave it back since she didn't know what to do with it. She did not like being dressed as a beggar. She was approached by some counter-feiters, but would have nothing to do with them since their crime was punishable by burning at the stake. She had to avoid them carefully, since they would gladly have murdered her for her knowledge. She stole 20 guineas worth of lace from a milliner's shop while the people there were watching the queen pass. Analysis: Very likely Defoe learned these tricks of thievery when he himself was in Newgate Prison, where he was jailed in 1703 for his satire against the High Church, The Shortest Way With Dissenters. They sound authentic, and Defoe describes so many of them that he seems to be making a catalogue of his illicit knowledge. As we can see in Moll's adventure in court, and other episodes, her success depends largely on impersonation: she needs to be able to make widely different impressions on people, and to completely hide her true identity. Theft is not as different from her previous way of life - successive courtships and marriages - as it may seem, since both hinge on pretending to be what one is not or to feel what one does not. Identity is a fluid thing in Moll Flanders: she changes her name and appearance frequently, and can even cross the gender boundary and briefly become a man. She leaves complicated trails behind her, making it difficult for the authorities to find her, or curious husbands to discover her true past. The fluidity of identity can be associated with that of money, easily spent and hard to trace, especially since identity was ascertained by the clothes one wore. In a time where clothes were very expensive, they were good indicators of class, and Moll takes advantage of that fact. Becoming a gentlewoman in the eyes of the public is as simple as putting on a rich set of clothing, which can be easily bought. Of course, Moll also has the advantage of a good education, clean habits, and refined manners.

Chapters 16-19
Part 16: Further Adventures - Moll Meets Lady Betty, Gambles, and is Almost Taken Moll went out in fine clothes and saw two very young ladies walking in Saint James's Park: one was about twelve years old, and the other nine. Their footman was waiting for them at the entrance of the park, where Moll greeted him and asked who the girls were. The foolish footman told him their names and a great deal of information about them. Moll then went up to the eldest, Lady Betty, and pretended to be a friend of her mother. When the King went by, Moll helped the girls to get up to where they would be able to see, and in doing so, stole Lady Betty's fine gold watch. She then said farewell and left as though she was being swept away by the crowd. By the time Lady Betty realized what had happened, Moll was far away in a coach. Another time, she went into a gaming house where gentlemen gambled, and pretended to be too frightened to venture her own money because the stakes were high, and she did not know the game well. A gentleman lent her some of his money to play with, and she gradually won more and more, occasionally hiding some of her profits in her pockets. Finally she offered the gentleman all she had won, but the others 27

insisted that he divide it evenly with her, so she left richer by 73 guineas, 43 stolen and 30 given. However she was careful not to gamble again, knowing that it could become an expensive habit. When the richer people left town for the summer, so did Moll, who toured the countryside. She stole luggage at a harbor town, and left on a boat before the loss was discovered. One day Moll saw a silversmith's shop left unattended, and went in with the intention of stealing some silver. Unfortunately a man across the street rushed in and caught her there alone, but she managed to call out herself before he got there, and claimed that she had only wanted to summon the smith so she could buy something. She was brought before a magistrate, and managed to convince him of her innocence, especially when she did indeed buy some silver spoons from the shop. It was a lucky escape that was not repeated twice. Analysis: Moll has no grand illusions about her thievery, and does not consider herself to be a sort of Robin Hood. She is quite wealthy by this time, and is careful to attack vulnerable people like children and inexperienced shop-keepers whenever possible. Of course she tends to steal from the rich rather than the poor, but only because it is better worth her while. She never engages in heroic violence of any nature, but prefers to use her wits. Despite the unheroic nature of her thievery, she is still something of a heroine: she takes on the role of the fabled clever fox. This is consistent with her gender: women were widely considered to be more clever and quick-witted than men, although they were thought to lack the ability to think deeply and importantly. Gambling was an important part of the lives of the rich and frivolous, and it was not uncommon for men (and women also, as we can see by Moll's participation) to win or lose immense sums of money at the gaming tables. It was a common practice for those who could afford it to go to the country in the summer, when London was less pleasant and more likely to give birth to a deadly plague. The city was by no means clean, and rats were rife. Defoe knew this very well: he wrote, among other things, A Journal of the Plague Year, published in 1722. London was also full of wooden buildings, which burnt easily and disastrously. The Great Fire of London left huge numbers of people homeless in 1665. Part 17: Moll in Newgate Prison Seeing some rich pieces of brocade silk through the open doors of a house, Moll went in and took them. As she was leaving, two maid-servants rushed in and caught her, and the people of the house and a constable were soon there. Although the master and mistress of the house were inclined to compassion, the constable took Moll before a judge, who committed her to Newgate. Moll was horrified by the prison, where so many of her colleagues had gone to die: she was struck by "the hellish noise, the roaring, swearing, and clamour, the stench and nastiness," which made it seem like hell. She repented that she had been caught, not that she had been a thief, and could not sleep for days. The other prisoners were glad to see her finally taken; their gay behavior confused Moll, who could not then understand how they could get used to such a place, especially when living under a death sentence. One woman, when asked whether she was comfortable there, said "Ay, I can't help myself; what signifies being sad? If I am hanged, there's an end of me." 28

Moll's governess tried hard to bribe the maid-servants, but was unable to do so, even though she offered 100 guineas to girls who probably only made about 3 a year. Moll disliked the clergyman of the prison, who only tried to get her to confess, and gradually became as insensible and unrepentant as the other prisoners. She was somewhat softened when she saw her Lancashire husband, James, among some celebrated highwaymen who were captured and brought to Newgate: she felt responsible for his destruction. She began to really repent, and lost the hardness she had acquired. She was found guilty of felony, and one the keepers told her frankly that she should talk to a minister and prepare for death. She asked for mercy but was sentenced to death. Her distressed governess, by now quite old and sincerely attached to Moll, found her a minister, who prayed with the newly Christian Moll. This minister, struck by her repentance, obtained a reprieve for her and finally managed to get her sentence commuted to transportation to Virginia. Her governess reminded her that she had plenty of money, which could make transportation more advantageous than it seemed, and 15 weeks later she was put on board a ship. Analysis: Defoe's description of Newgate and its inmates is powerful and extremely memorable: evidently his time there marked him deeply. The disturbing, paradoxical happiness and gaiety of the despairing prisoners in their wretched surroundings is like madness. In a way, the prisoners' behavior serves as a distorted mirror for the world: everyone, broadly speaking, is under a death sentence, yet few people behave as though they were preparing for an end. It is this twisted resemblance between Newgate and the world which gives the prison's image so much power: we would not be so shaken if we did not see ourselves in the laughing, singing prisoners. Of course, the behavior of the prisoners makes less sense if one assumes the existence of a Christian afterlife; there is a real and important break between the worldview of the respectable people and the clergymen, and that of the prisoners. If the afterlife exists, then sinners have every reason to repent, as Moll does. The fact that so few prisoners do repent indicates that they do not believe in the most essential points of Christianity. The behavior of a prisoner in Newgate, then, appears to be similar to that of an atheist in the world, and it is so dangerously careless and uncontrollable that an early modern judge would clearly see the necessity of religion in an orderly society. It would be interesting to know where Defoe stands: we know that he was generally tolerant, and did not want to become a minister. But is it possible that he could have been an atheist? We see Moll sincerely repenting: "I now began to look upon my past life with abhorrence... The greatest and best things, the views of felicity, the joy, the griefs of life, were quite other things; and I had nothing in my thoughts but what was so infinitely superior to what I had known in life, that it appeared to me to be the greatest stupidity in nature to lay any weight upon anything, though the most valuable in this world." However, one should keep in mind the end of the prologue, which states that once Moll achieved security and prosperity toward the end of her life, she "was not so extraordinary a penitent as she was at first." Is this bit of irony a mild statement about human weakness? Or does Defoe seriously undermine the Christian fervor of his heroine, and consequently all Christian fervor? Is the terrible gaiety of the Newgate prisoners a reflection of the horrors of atheism or the hopelessness of the human condition? Part 18: Moll Saves her Husband and They are Transported During this time Moll did not forget her Lancashire husband, the highwayman. She pretended that she was willing to give evidence against him, whereupon he asked to see her, not having any idea who she was. She went to visit him; recognizing her, he thought at first that she had come for revenge. She reassured him, and told her some of her recent history, but leaving out most of her thievery and pretending that she had been mistaken for the famous Moll Flanders. It appeared that he had been a highwayman for twelve years 29

before their marriage, having many adventures, and had never been caught until then. The evidence against him was little enough that he could obtain transportation if he wanted, but hating the thought of slavery and hard labor, was more inclined to hang: "here he knew what to do with himself, but... there he would be the most ignorant, helpless wretch alive." Moll successfully persuaded him that, with money, transportation would not be so bad - especially since she would go too. After some negotiations, they managed to be put on the same ship, and Moll's governess bought all sorts of supplies and tools useful for running a plantation, to be loaded on the same ship. Their money (Moll took 246 guineas with her, leaving another 300 with her governess, and James had about 108) obtained them a pleasant cabin and all sorts of small luxuries; the boatswain and the captain were both pleasant and understanding. They were even allowed to go onshore freely at Gravesend, before crossing the Atlantic. The governess was sorry to part with Moll, who told her that she would marry James in America (she had never told her they were already married). The crossing took 42 days, which was hard for Moll's husband, who was seasick. Once they reached Virginia, the captain (for the price of a thousand weight of tobacco) arranged for them to be "sold" to a planter, who soon freely discharged them. They were free in Virginia. Analysis: Although Moll and her husband are clearly given favorable treatment as a result of what people would call bribes today, there appears to be no consciousness of unfairness in the novel. The ship's officers are not called corrupt, though by modern standards their behavior would be considered criminal. Perhaps because Moll's society did not pretend to be equitable where money is concerned, she seems accept the existence of official corruption without hesitation or doubt. The captain is called "one of the best-humoured gentlemen in the world," who delights to "show himself kind and charitable" (especially to rich convicts). Moll's highwayman's behavior echoes that of her grave husband, who died after his business failed. They both show an inability to adapt: without Moll's intervention, James would certainly have allowed himself to be hanged. It is curious that man whose previous occupation involved so much danger shows himself to be so helpless and frightened when an unfamiliar challenge presents itself. Indeed, Moll's brother also showed the same lack of energy and cheerfulness: he wanted to kill himself when he found out that he had married his sister. In contrast, Moll and her governess adapt themselves readily when their circumstances change drastically, as they frequently do. The women might lack strict principles and unbending pride, but their survival (and often that of the men around them) depends on their driving will to live. They are less noble, but perhaps more brave. Part 19: Moll Makes Good and Lives Happily Ever After Close to where they had landed, Moll saw her brother/husband and son walking together; it appeared that the old man was nearly blind so she didn't have to fear recognition. She was pleased to see her son so handsome and flourishing, and wished she could speak to him. Moll learned that her mother, now dead, had left her some land, held in trust by her son. Moll did not dare approach her son because she had not told her Lancashire husband about her incestuous marriage, and did not want him to find out. So the two of them went and settled near Maryland, and started a plantation, buying many servants. After a year Moll left her husband there and went back to see her brother. She sent him a letter, full of tender comments about her son, which paid off well since her son read it and came to greet her. He was glad to see his mother and very affectionate, gave her gifts and wanted her to live with them. She was very happy but, not being eager to live with her brother anymore, refused, and after several weeks returned to her husband. With what they had already, and the income from the new land, and the son's gifts, and what Moll had left with her governess, they were very wealthy indeed. Moll was able to buy her husband swords and fine clothing, so he could live like a gentleman. A 30

year later Moll learned that her brother was dead, so she could tell her son safely that she was going to be married (to James, of course), and could also tell James the truth about her incestuous marriage. She was immensely relieved no longer to have to keep secrets. They were very prosperous, and in eight years had an income of 300 guineas a year. When Moll was seventy and her husband sixty-eight, they returned to England rich and legal, and Moll said that they resolved to spend their remaining comfortable years repenting their sins. Analysis: It is really only in this chapter that we learn that keeping secrets is a strain for Moll: "a secret of moment should always have a confidant, a bosom friend, to whom we may communicate the joy of it, or the grief of it, be it which it will, or it will be a double weight upon the spirits, and perhaps become even insupportable in itself." Moll keeps many secrets during her life: even those closest to her, her governess and her Lancashire husband, are not told important things about her. As we have seen in the rest of the novel, especially parts 13 and 15, the ability to keep secrets has been essential to her security. The end of the novel, in which Moll is finally able to tell some essential secrets (those of her marriage to her brother and her marriage to James), is calm and favorable not only because Moll achieves wealth (she had been wealthy before) but because she can relieve her mental oppression. Every secret is then told to someone: her governess knows about her thievery, though her husband and son do not; and her husband and son know about her marriages, although her governess does not. Moll will never be entirely free of secrecy, since even as a rich old woman she will not tell her real name, but, living legally, she can rest relatively easy. It is interesting to note that Moll makes little difference between her white and black servants: we bought us two servants, viz. an English woman-servant just come on shore from a ship of Liverpool, and a Negro man-servant, things absolutely necessary for all people that pretended to settle in that country." Presumably the white woman was an indentured servant, bound to serve a limited term of years, while the black man was a true slave, but Defoe does not distinguish between the two varieties of servitude, nor does he appear to be especially racist, except in his ignoring the evil of slavery. Plantation life is described in sketchy terms: we learn nothing of the day-to-day business of raising tobacco, but only hear about the wealth it brings. During her repentant stage Moll claimed to learn to despise material wealth, but renewed prosperity and safety appear to dull her religious beliefs, and while we might easily believe that she does not wish to return to her evil ways, it is nonetheless true that she ends the novel comfortably repenting while living off profits based on theft and highway robbery. 31