Characters Discussed (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
Moll Flanders, an English adventuress (known also as Mistress Betty, May Flanders, and Mrs. Flanders), one of the most engaging female rogues in all literature. She relates her entire life story, from infancy to final years of repentance, with frankness and full detail. As the daughter of a woman convicted of a felony and transported to Virginia, Moll spends her early years in the company of some gypsies, then with several families who treat her well. By the age of fourteen, Moll is attractive, intelligent, resourceful, and womanly. Her first affair is with the elder son in a household where she has entered service. The younger son, Robin, falls in love with her and becomes her first husband. After five years of marriage and the birth of two children, he dies. Later, Moll preys on mankind for many years. Using her beauty and wits to support herself in as much luxury and comfort as she can manage, she marries a succession of husbands, one of them her half brother, and eventually turns thief and pickpocket. She acquires a sizable fortune before she is caught. At Newgate, where her life began, she receives a death sentence but succeeds in getting transportation instead. A former husband, Jemmy E., is being sent to the colonies on the same ship. The two establish a plantation in Carolina, prosper greatly, and ultimately decide to go back to England to spend their remaining years in repentance. Moll maintains a moral tone in relating all...
(The entire section is 592 words.)
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The Bank Clerk
Moll meets the bank clerk just before she is about to go to Lancashire and feels that she needs someone to hold her money in London while she is away. He almost immediately expresses romantic interest in her, telling Moll that his wife is a whore. Moll likes him, noting that he is a stable man, but she puts off his advances for some time, until he is able to divorce his wife. They eventually marry, have children, and live happily until the bank clerk dies from grief over losing most of the family’s money.
The draper is Moll’s second husband. During her marriage to him, Moll says she “had the pleasure of seeing a great deal of my money spent upon myself.” The draper ends up in prison for failing to pay his debts but escapes and flees to France, leaving Moll with “a husband, and no husband.” Because of the draper’s bad credit, Moll changes her name to Mrs. Flanders and moves to the Mint, a neighborhood where debtors find legal sanctuary.
The Elder Brother
The elder brother is Moll’s first love, a handsome but tricky young man. His mother and sisters find Moll clever and ask her to live with them after the woman who originally took in Moll dies. The elder brother flatters Moll and eventually gets her into his bed with promises of marriage and gifts. But he considers Moll his mistress and has no intentions of marrying her. Eventually, he tires of Moll and creates a series of deceptions,...
(The entire section is 1861 words.)