Places Discussed (Cyclopedia of Literary Places)
*Colchester. Town in southeastern England’s Essex district, in which Moll’s narrative begins by moving quickly through her early years. After being orphaned, she is taken into a home in Colchester in which she first is seduced by one brother and then married by the other, in a loveless relationship.
*London. England’s capital city and mercantile center, to which Moll goes after her husband dies. Now wiser about the ways of the world, she schemes to make a rich match for herself, only to connect with a gentleman-tradesman who proves to be as much a fraud as she is. Moll takes a greater hand in determining her own fate in London, where, as she learns, everything is business.
After having brief relationships with men in the countryside, Moll returns to London on her own and becomes a prostitute and a thief. The bulk of the book concerns her second sojourn in London, where, from her point of view as a storyteller, she is near to full-bloom.
*Virginia. British North American colony where Moll lives for eight years with her third husband, a gentleman-planter whom she marries after her second marriage fails. She is initially content in this new situation, but when she is given reason to believe that she may have a blood-relationship to her husband, she is aghast at the possibility of having committed incest and returns to England on her own.
After another sojourn in England—where she lives in Bath—Moll comes back to North America, finds that her third husband has died, and inherits his land. She thus returns to Virginia a landowner. Although it is doubtful the local courts would uphold her claim if someone were to challenge it, Moll knows that she has a better chance to own land in America than she could ever have in Europe. The novel ends with her making a formal claim to the Virginia land, thereby declaring to her readers that she has, at last, substantially the same rights as a man.
Preface and Parts 1-2: Questions and Answers
1. Where was Moll born?
2. What happened to Moll’s mother?
3. How does Moll spend the first three years of her life?
4. Where does Moll live during most of her childhood?
5. What was Moll’s driving ambition while she was growing up?
6. What does Moll identify as her worst failing?
7. What impressed Moll most during her affair with the elder brother?
8. Why did Moll marry Robin, her first husband?
9. How long were Moll and Robin married?
10. What happened to the children Moll had with Robin?
1. Moll was born in Newgate Prison in London, England.
(The entire section is 269 words.)
Parts 3-4 - Moll’s Early Adventures in Marriage: Questions and Answers
1. What was Moll’s reaction to Robin’s death?
2. What attracted Moll to the draper?
3. Why did Moll part with the draper?
4. Where did Moll go to live after the draper left her?
5. Where was Moll’s third husband’s estate?
6. What did Moll’s mother display as a sign of her past?
7. What did Moll’s mother advise Moll to do after Moll revealed the true relationship between her husband and herself?
8. What was Moll’s third husband’s reaction to the news that he had married his own half-sister?
9. How many children did Moll have with her husband-brother?
10. Where did Moll go after she...
(The entire section is 325 words.)
Parts 5-7 - Moll’s Later Adventures In and Out of Marriage: Questions and Answers
1. What distinguished Moll’s affair with the gentleman of Bath from her previous relationships?
2. How did Moll view her relationship with the gentleman of Bath?
3. How did Moll meet Jemy, her fourth husband?
4. What distinguished Moll’s relationship with Jemy from her previous relationships?
5. Why did Jemy leave Moll?
6. What did Moll do after Jemy left her?
7. What convinced Moll to place herself in the care of the governess?
8. How does Moll describe her efforts to manipulate the banker?
9. How many children did Moll have with the banker?
10. How old was Moll when the banker died?...
(The entire section is 303 words.)
Parts 8-10- Adventures in Crime: Questions and Answers
1. Why does Moll take up stealing?
2. What did Moll do when she moved into the governess’ house?
3. Who was Moll’s most significant partner in crime?
4. What was Moll’s specialty as a thief?
5. Who does Moll blame most often for her misdeeds?
6. Who was the famous thief who taught Moll how to be a pickpocket?
7. Where did Moll meet the baronet?
8. What significant act did Moll perform while she was waiting to receive the baronet?
9. What was Moll’s most irrational criminal act?
10. Where was Moll taken after she was captured?
1. Moll says that fear of...
(The entire section is 304 words.)
Parts 11-14- Repentance and Prosperity: Questions and Answers
1. What was Moll’s view of Newgate Prison after she had been there for a while?
2. What finally inspired Moll to repent of her life of crime?
3. When Moll’s sentence of death was lifted, what alternative sentence did she receive?
4. What did Moll manage to take with her on her second voyage to Virginia?
5. What happened to Moll and Jemy when they first arrived in America?
6. Which of her relatives did Moll encounter upon her return to Virginia?
7. Where did Moll and Jemy buy land after they arrived in Virginia?
8. What did Moll receive from the governess after she and Jemy moved to their new home?
(The entire section is 453 words.)
Compare and Contrast
Topics for Further Study
What Do I Read Next?
Bibliography and Further Reading
Bibliography (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
Backscheider, Paula R. Daniel Defoe: Ambition and Innovation. Louisville: University of Kentucky Press, 1986. Provides biographical data and critical interpretations of Defoe’s novels, placing emphasis on his innovative point of view.
Bell, Ian A. Defoe’s Fiction. New York: Barnes & Noble Books, 1985. Studies the elements of Defoe’s writing style and characters. Discusses the problem of morality in Moll Flanders.
Boardman, Michael M. Defoe and the Use of Narrative. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1985. Discusses Daniel Defoe’s narrative technique. Focuses on how...
(The entire section is 199 words.)