Moll Flanders By Daniel Defoe Essay, Research Paper
by Daniel DeFoe
Moll Flanders: A woman in the 17th century who was born in Newgate ( a prison) and spent twelve years as a whore, twelve years as a thief, was married five times, committed incest, was sentenced to death, but given a reprieve, and was transported to Virginia were she finally prospered. As a child Moll was raved upon for her beauty and her ability to carry herself even as a orphan. Even as she got older her great beauty remained as well as her shape. She had the character of a very calm, modest, and virtuous young woman. Moll was a very strong-willed woman. Through out her life, the good times and the bad, she never gave up. She was determined to have all that she wanted, and at any expense. This part of her was what led her to do some of the many wicked things she did.
Robert: He was the first man Moll slept with, and then fell in love with. There was no physical description of him. This young man was the eldest of the four children Moll grew up with. He was more experienced in his age than Moll was in hers. He was charming, and he was a user. He knew how to charm Moll to get what he wanted.
Husband 1: His name was Robin. He was the younger brother of the four children Moll grew up with. He also professed his love to Moll on many occasions, and she did finally marry him. She had two children with him. There was no physical description of him. He was an earnest husband; tender, kind, good-humored, and he loved Moll dearly. He died five years after they were married.
Husband 2: This man Moll chose for herself. He was a linen draper. No physical description was given for him. They were not married long when his fortune had been wasted away, and he was arrested for a crime too big for him to get bail.
Husband 3: A sea captain that Moll trapped into marriage by pretending that she had a fortune, but was actually fairly poor. They were very happy together. He brought her to Virginia, where he had a plantation. They lived in Virginia with his mother, and Moll discovered, during a conversation with her mother-in-law that the man she had married was actually her brother. There was no physical description of this man.
the man from Bath: Moll met him at Bath. She became his mistress for five years after they had been just friends for some time. He maintained her quite well, and she had two children with him. He was a strong, vigorous, and busy person. There was no physical description of this man.
Husband 4: He was reported to be a brother of Moll’s friend. He actually was an infamous robber and con man. This is the man the story ends with. There was no physical description given of him.
Husband 5: A banker from London who Moll enlisted to help her manage her money. He was quite in love with her. He obtained a divorce from his wife who had run off with an English captain so that he could be free to marry Moll. He died after five wonderful years. There was no physical description of this man except to say he was of good reputation and honest in his dealings.
The Governess: The governess pushed Moll to her thieving ways, and kept her at it for twelve years. The governess was Moll’s only friend after the incident with the man from Bath, and remained her friend until the end. The governess finally repented her rather shady ways when Moll was sentenced to death for stealing some silk.
Moll was born in Newgate prison to a woman who dodged a hanging by becoming pregnant by a prison guard. Moll was left with some relatives of her mother. Her first memories are of herself being with some gypsy-type people who she somehow got separated from in Colchester. She found herself a ward of the town magistrates who felt compelled to provide care for her in some manner. She was placed in a home of a nurse who cared for her and educated her. Upon her eighth year, the town magistrates wanted her to go into the service but Moll talked her caretaker into hiring her instead.
When Moll was fourteen years old, the nurse, whom she had come to call mother, died. A compassionate neighbor took Moll in to live with them. This neighbor had four children, two boys and two girls. It was during her stay here that Moll grew up. Both brothers took and interest in her at separate times. It was the elder of the two brothers who charmed Moll into his bed with promises he never intended to keep. The younger of the brothers had true love for Moll and wanted to marry her but Moll could only see the elder brother in her future. The older brother finally told Moll that he could no longer “court” her and that she should marry the younger brother. Moll did marry the younger brother and had two children by him. He died five years after they were married. Their two children were left in the care of his parents.
Moll was left quite well off financially and she was still a young, handsome woman. She came to live with a friend whose brother was one of the several suitable men who courted her. He was a linen draper who had come into some money and was well off. After they married, both Moll and her husband wastefully spent the fortune. The linen draper ended up being arrested for a crime upon which he couldn’t post bail. Moll was left to pay off the debt that had been created foolishly by them.
In her efforts to pay these debts, Moll sells all their possessions. She meets a woman who is a widow. Moll helps this widow find a husband. In return, the widow tries to help Moll find a husband through the acquaintances of her new husband. They fix Moll up with a man of the sea. They tell this sea captain Moll is wealthy. The relationship progresses to the point of engagement and before they are married, Moll tells the captain she is not wealthy. He didn’t believe he was deceived by her so he still wanted to marry her. They married soon after and traveled to Virginia to live with his mother and sister on their plantation.
After living on the plantation for some time the sea captain’s mother and Moll were conversing and Moll discovers that this woman is actually her mother too. The knowledge distresses Moll because she has had two children by this husband who is actually her brother. She does not know if she should tell her husband that he is actually her brother. She decides to confront their mother and they discuss what action would be taken. Moll decides to go back to England. Moll’s mother helps her by financing the trip. back to England.
Once Moll arrived in England, she traveled to Bath and set up residence there. She met a gentleman with whom she became good friends. He was married to a woman who was mentally ill. They remained good friends for a long time. This man became very ill and Moll provided care for him during the illness. Once he recovered, their relationship changed, quite by accident. She became his mistress. He provided her a place to live and even made sure she had money. Moll had two children by him during this time. He stopped seeing her because his conscience got the better of him. He made provisions for their children and pay Moll one hundred pounds.
Moll feels she needs to protect her money so she makes inquiries with a banker who does help her. This man falls in love with Moll. He is married but his wife had abandoned him and gone off with another man. Moll tells him that if he would show her proof that he was really free, then she would marry him. In the meanwhile, Moll moved north in an effort to find more affordable living. She traveled there with a friend who told Moll she had a brother with a fortune of his own who might marry her. Moll meets this man and does marry him. She finds out that both of them had been deceived by this girl. Besides what this friend had told Moll, she had told the man that Moll was rich as well. He was not this girl’s brother and he was not rich. After trying to live together for a while and realizing their fortunes together would not last them long, her husband leaves her. He goes to find his fortune and he tells Moll that if he finds one, he would send for her. He also tells her that if she does not hear from him, that she could consider herself free to marry another.
Moll finds out after he departs that she is carrying his child. This ruins Moll’s plans for she had wanted to move back to London to marry the banker for he had written to her to inform her of his divorce. Moll learns from her landlady that there is a woman who could possible be of help to her. This woman, a governess, takes Moll into her home. Moll has her baby and the governess finds a home for the baby boy. This enables Moll to move back to London to marry the banker.
Upon her arrival in London, Moll meets the banker at an Inn and they were married that night. They lived together in comfort for five years. The banker, after this time, trusted a fellow clerk with a sum of money. This clerk failed the banker and lost the money. The fortunes of both Moll and the banker were not enough to cover the loss and it ruined them. The stress of the situation wore on the banker and he died. Moll and the banker had two children together. At this time in her life, at age forty-eight, Moll could no longer have any more children.
Moll lived for two years off the remaining money. She sold her house and all of her goods to move to a cheaper place to live. Moll had reached the lowest point of her life, finding herself in debt, with no money, friendless, and without hopes of a better life. It was the onset of her wicked life consisting of thievery and prostitution. In an attempt to find a buyer for her stolen goods, Moll met up once again with the governess who had taken care of finding a home for Moll’s baby boy back in Bath. The governess bought all the stolen goods. She pushed Moll to her thieving ways, keeping her at it for twelve years until Moll was caught stealing silk.
Moll was sent to Newgate to be tried. It was in Newgate that Moll reacquaints herself with her fourth husband. They made plans to be sent to the same place after they had both were reprieved for their crimes. Between the both of them, they had a good sum of money and with the help of Moll’s friend, the governess, they acquired all the necessities they required to begin their lives together. They travel to Virginia in the Americas where they find their fortunes and they buy a plantation. It is here that Moll attempts to relocate her mother and brother/husband. She does this because her mother had told Moll she would leave her something when she died. Moll is also curious about the child she had left behind all those years ago. Moll does meet her son and learns about the deaths of her mother and brother. Moll is given the fortune her mother had willed to her. Moll returns to her husband with her fortune. She visited her son from time to time and lived out the rest of her live managing the plantation with her husband.
I enjoyed the story in this book because of the life Moll Flanders lived. If found the book itself a little difficult to read because of the style of English in which it was written. I felt DeFoe depicted women in Moll’s class of society fairly accurately for the time frame of this story. Having no chapters and being one long story made the book difficult to get through. I disliked the fact that with exception of Moll, most of the characters were not named and none had physical descriptions. I like Moll’s character because she was a very determined individual, who did what she thought she had to do to get where she thought she had to be.
Living a wicked life can do more harm than good. In Moll?s life she is faced with many trials and tribulations; each of which Moll handles, in my opinion, very well. There are many incidents though when Moll willingly and also unwillingly took part in schemes and scandals that led to the near destruction of her own life. In the end, while awaiting trial in Newgate Moll does repent for all of her wrongs. I believe this is when her life takes a turn for the much better. As she and her husband are blessed on their journey to the Americas and together live a happy and prosperous life.