Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 592
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 of her illegal, extramarital, and exciting adventures, but her professed repentance never seems to keep her from enjoying the fruits of her actions.
Moll’s Mother, a convicted felon transported to Virginia soon after Moll’s birth. The mother does well in Virginia, builds up a large estate, lives to a satisfying old age, and leaves a farm to Moll.
Humphry, a sea captain. He marries Moll and takes her to Virginia, where he introduces her to his mother (and hers). He remains in Virginia when Moll returns to England after deciding that she can no longer live with her half brother as his wife.
Humphry, the son of Moll and the sea captain. When Moll returns home, he stays in Virginia, where he becomes a planter. He turns over to Moll the plantation willed her and proves a dutiful and loving son.
Jemmy E., an Irish adventurer and highway robber, Moll’s former husband, with whom she establishes a plantation in the Carolina Colony. He follows Moll back to England, where they spend their declining years in repentance and some luxury.
“Mother Midnight,” a midwife who owns a nursing home for unwed mothers. She trains Moll as a thief. Later, she takes care of Moll’s money and is Moll’s agent in sending valuable goods to Carolina.
A Gentleman of Bath
A Gentleman of Bath, married to a mentally ill woman. Moll lives with him and bears him three children.
A Linen Draper
A Linen Draper, a spendthrift who marries Moll, runs through her money quickly, and abandons her.
Robin, Moll’s first husband, the younger son in the family where she first takes service.
Robin’s Older Brother
Robin’s Older Brother, Moll’s seducer and first lover.
A Clergyman, the chaplain at Newgate. He befriends Moll in prison, helps her secure a reprieve from the death sentence, and persuades her to repent.
A London Bank Clerk
A London Bank Clerk, married to Moll for five years.
Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 1861
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...
(The entire section contains 2453 words.)
Unlock This Study Guide Now
Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this Moll Flanders study guide. You'll get access to all of the Moll Flanders content, as well as access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.
- Chapter Summaries
- Critical Essays
- Short-Answer Quizzes
- Teaching Guide