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Moll Flanders

Daniel Defoe

Section 6 (Moll marries the banker)

Section 5 (The banker, and Moll's Lancashire husband)

Section 7 (Moll begins a life of crime)

Summary

Moll returns to London intending to find the banker, who has been writing her letters weekly and who knows nothing of her marriage to Jemy. When she realizes she is pregnant, however, she has to stall her husband-to-be so as not to give herself away. During this inconvenient pregnancy Moll falls under the care of a street-wise woman whom she will later call "my Governess." This woman orchestrates all the details of Moll's confinement and arranges for the hasty dispatch of the infant once it is born. Moll is then free to marry her banker, who in the meantime has succeeded in divorcing his wife.

She arranges to meet the banker outside of London in order to preserve the appearance that she is just returning from Lancashire. He persuades her to marry him that very night, and a minister is called to the inn to do the offices. The next morning Moll happens to look out the window and is surprised to see her Lancashire husband, Jemy, in the company of two other men. She is later questioned by the police, who are looking for three highwaymen. She throws them off the trail, assuring them that she knows one of those three to be a very respectable gentleman.

Moll returns to London with her new husband, where she says she "took Possession at once of a House well Furnish'd, and a Husband in very good Circumstances, so that I had a prospect of a very happy Life, if I knew how to manage it." They lead a pleasant and comfortable existence, if a solitary one (Moll still insists that she had no friends and "kept no Company" at that time). After five years, however, Moll's husband loses a great deal of money in a financial speculation, falls into despair, and eventually dies. Moll is left alone and impoverished once again.

Commentary

Although we have seen Moll growing in worldliness and sophistication over the course of the novel, Defoe emphasizes his heroine's innocence in comparison to the women she meets when she returns to London. Assuming her first landlady to be a very scrupulous gentlewoman, she is embarrassed to appear as an unwed mother (although she is also reluctant to admit that she is married, because of her intention of remarrying). Only later does she realize that "the Mistress of the House was not so great a Stranger to such Cases as mine was." The midwife whom the landlady summons turns out to be exactly "the right sort" for Moll's situation. Little by little, Moll begins to get glimpses into a shadowy--but highly organized--world of corruption and degeneracy. She is surprised to discover what intricate networks of people and practices are in place to support immoral and criminal behavior. Moll's Governess is midwife to "Ladies of Pleasure" on a regular basis, and she knows just whom to contact to have Moll's baby taken off her hands. She evidently knows how to abort the baby as well, though she broaches the topic so indirectly that Moll only barely catches her meaning. She also appears to be acting as a procuress. Moll in fact declines to narrate in full detail "the Nature of the wicked Practice of this Woman, in whose Hands I was now fallen," fearing that she may tempt others to similar vice. Defoe offers his readers a glimpse into this underworld as kind of realistic documentary--as "Testimony of the growing Vice of the Age."

In the security of her new married life with the banker, Moll has leisure to reflect on her past misdeeds, and to acknowledge "how much happier a Life of Virtue and Sobriety is, than that which we call a Life of Pleasure." One of the tenets of the novel, and the final moral of Moll's life, is that virtue and piety are luxuries that can be enjoyed only when certain basic material needs are met. "While I liv'd thus," Moll says, "I was really a Penitent for all my Life pass'd, I look'd back on it with Abhorrence, and might truly be said to hate my self for it." Yet there is little acknowledgment on Moll's part that she really ought to have acted differently, under the circumstances, and she recognizes even in her repentance that her new outlook might last only as long as her fortunes do.

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Marriage to the Banker

by smh000, May 04, 2014

The novel stated the Moll had two children by the banker. Did I miss something in that I don't think the novel stated what she did with those two children.

Marriage to the Banker

by smh000, May 04, 2014

The novel stated the Moll had two children by the banker. Did I miss something in that I don't think the novel stated what she did with those two children.

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