Preface and Parts 1-2: Questions and Answers

Study Questions
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.

2. Moll’s mother was sentenced to death by hanging after being convicted for petty theft. However, after she ‘pled her belly,’ that is, let prison authorities know that she was pregnant, her sentence was reduced to transportation to the American colonies.

3. After Moll’s mother was shipped off to the colonies, Moll was taken by gypsies from Newgate Prison. She traveled about with them until she somehow managed to escape when she was three years old.

4. Moll lived with a school mistress to whom she refers as ‘nurse.’ The nurse cared for Moll until she was fourteen years old.

5. Moll wished to become an independent “gentlewoman.”

6. Moll names vanity as her downfall.

7. Moll enjoyed the money and physical pleasure the elder brother gave her.

8. The elder brother made it clear that he would never marry Moll, and he also bribed her with five hundred pounds.

9. Robin and Moll were married for five years.

10. According to Moll, “the two children were indeed taken happily off my hands by my husband’s father and mother.”

Parts 3-4 - Moll’s Early Adventures in Marriage: Questions and Answers

Study Questions
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 resolved to end her relationship with her husband-brother?

1. After Robin died, Moll resolved to find a rich husband right away.

2. Moll liked the draper because he lived lavishly, kept many servants, and drove a fancy coach.

3. Moll and the draper were forced to part when he was taken to debtor’s prison. They said their final goodbyes just before he fled to France.

4. After the draper left her, Moll went to live in the Mint, a customary haven for fugitives and debtors.

5. Moll’s third husband’s estate was located in the colony of Virginia.

6. Moll’s mother showed her daughter the brand she had received after she had been convicted of petty theft. The brand had been burned into Moll’s mother’s hand while she was incarcerated in Newgate Prison.

7. After Moll’s mother learned that Moll has married her own brother, Moll’s mother advised her daughter to pretend that the revelation had never come to pass.

8. When Moll’s husband discovered that he had married his own sister, he became mentally unbalanced.

9. Moll had three children with her fourth husband, the man who turned out to be her own half-brother.

10. After Moll left her husband-brother, she sailed back to England with as many possessions as her relatives would allow her to take.

Parts 5-7 - Moll’s Later Adventures In and Out of Marriage: Questions and Answers

Study Questions
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?

1. Moll carried on her relationship with the gentleman of Bath even though she knew that he would never take her as his wife.

2. During her affair with the gentleman of Bath, Moll thought of herself as a ‘whore,’ but she enjoyed the money and security he provided her.

3. Moll was introduced to Jemy, her fourth husband, by a Lancashire woman who made Moll believe that Jemy was a wealthy aristocrat.

4. In contrast to her feelings about her previous husbands, Moll loved Jemy more than any man she had ever met before.

5. Moll and Jemy parted when he went off to make his fortune in Ireland.

6. After Jemy left her, Moll resolved to renew her relationship with the banker.

7. Moll placed herself in the governess’s care after the governess presented her with a detailed “bill of fare.” Although she was somewhat hesitant to rely on a woman who made a living assisting prostitutes, Moll realized that the governess was ideally suited to help her deal with her ‘delicate’ situation.

8. Of her dealings with the banker, Moll recalls, “I played with this lover as an angler does a trout.”

9. Moll and the banker had two children.

10. When the banker died, Moll was forty-eight years old.

Parts 8-10- Adventures in Crime: Questions and Answers

Study Questions
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 starvation forced her to steal, but she admits that she engaged in criminal acts long before genuine poverty had arrived at her door. Indeed, Moll acknowledges greed as the most consistent inspiration for her crimes.

2. When Moll first moved in with the governess, she took in needlework, a sign that somewhere deep in her soul, she wished that she could make an honest living.

3. After Moll made it clear that she was willing to make a living by stealing, the governess became her most important partner in crime.

4. Even during the earliest stages of her career, Moll’s specialized in stealing watches from ladies’ sides.

5. Moll sometimes blames her victims for presenting themselves as easy targets, but more often says that the devil compelled her to break the law.

6. The beautiful and notorious ‘Moll Cutpurse’ taught Moll how to be an expert pickpocket, sharpening skills Moll had already developed to some degree on her own.

7. Moll met the baronet in a gambling house.

8. Moll painted her face like a prostitute before the baronet arrived.

9. Moll stole a horse even though neither she nor the governess had anything to gain from the act.

10. Moll was taken back to Newgate Prison, the place of her birth.

Parts 11-14- Repentance and Prosperity: Questions and Answers

Study Questions
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?

9. How long was Moll’s second stay in America?

10. Where do Moll and Jemy live out their old age?

1. At first, Moll was horrified by the dismal conditions in Newgate Prison, but, after a time, she began to find Newgate not only tolerable but almost agreeable.

2. Moll became a penitent after she heard a minister describe the benefits she would derive from repentance. Defoe leaves it up to the reader to decide whether or not she had truly been saved.

3. Like her mother had been, Moll was sentenced to several years of indentured servitude in America.

4. Moll somehow managed to take a trunk full of gold, silver, jewelry, and fine linen with her on the prison ship.


(The entire section is 453 words.)