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Moll Flanders | Study Guide

Daniel Defoe

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Moll Flanders | Characters

Character Description
Moll Flanders Moll Flanders is the title hero and narrator of the novel who commits numerous crimes before being deported to America. Married to her true love and relatively wealthy at the end of her life, she claims to repent her immoral lifestyle. Read More
The midwife The midwife lives in the Mint, a seedy area of London, where she assists with pregnancies, child-birth and abortions, and pawns stolen goods. Moll often refers to her as the governess. An ambiguous character at first, the midwife turns out to be a symbol of loyalty and steadfastness. Read More
Jemy Jemy—whose real name is James, but is often referred to as "my Lancashire husband"—is Moll's fourth husband, who, like her, looks at marriage as a means to ensure economic gain. He leaves Moll when they realize they are both poor, only to become her final companion towards the end of her life. Read More
The adoptive mother Moll's adoptive mother, one of the upper-class ladies in Colchester, is impressed with Moll's desire to be an independent woman. After the nurse's death, she takes Moll in and raises her like a daughter.
The banker The banker, Moll's fifth husband, is just the man of means she has been after—an honest and respectable citizen who will take care of her. He dies after a business deal gone bad leaves him and Moll destitute.
The draper Moll's second husband, a linen draper, enjoys living beyond his means and squanders the money Moll saved from her first lover and inherited from her first husband. Broke, he leaves the country to escape his creditors, leaving Moll no choice but to go underground and take on an assumed name.
The gentleman in Bath A married man, the gentleman in Bath becomes Moll's lover, treats her with respect, and takes good care of her for years. However, when he becomes religious following a near death experience, he can no longer justify the affair, and he just stops showing up one day, leaving Moll in a lurch.
Humphrey Humphrey, Moll's son with her brother-husband, is one of the many children Moll abandons, and the only one she ever meets again. Grown into a respectable and kind young man, he and Moll have a joyful reunion, and Humphrey makes good on his grandmother's promise, ensuring his mother receives a yearly income from her mother's estate.
Mrs. Mayoress The wife of the mayor in Colchester, Mrs. Mayoress supports Moll's desire not to go into service and talks her husband into allowing Moll to stay with the nurse and earn her keep.
The minister Moll meets a minister in Newgate prison who believes in a benevolent God who forgives criminals. Once Moll confesses, the minister manages to have her death sentence overturned.
The mother Moll's mother, a convicted criminal, is transported to America right after Moll's birth, where she marries well and has a son, who turns out to be Moll's third husband. Although they never establish a close relationship, she leaves her daughter a generous estate.
The nurse One of the few positive female role models, the nurse—a steadfast and practical person—raises Moll from age three through to her teenage years. She supports Moll's desire to be independent, rather than become a servant.
The older brother Moll's first lover—the older son of her adoptive family—seduces her with promises of marriage yet never intends to follow through. He talks her into marrying his younger brother so they can hide the fact she has lost her virginity.
Petty criminals Moll meets many criminals during her life of crime, who remain mostly nameless.
The plantation owner The plantation owner from Virginia—Moll's third husband and father of her son Humphrey—turns out to be her half-brother, the son of Moll's mother, who was deported to America right after Moll's birth. When Moll leaves the incestuous relationship, he raises their son by himself and dies before Moll returns to Virginia to claim her inheritance and rekindle the relationship with her son.
Robin Robin (sometimes referred to as Robert), the younger brother of Moll's adoptive family, is head-over-heels in love with Moll and marries her despite his family's disapproval. When he dies five years later, he leaves Moll a small inheritance, and their children stay with his parents when Moll leaves.
The sisters The two sisters of Moll's adoptive family share their upper-class education with Moll. Not as pretty as Moll, they believe a woman's value to a potential husband is defined by wealth rather than education, beauty, or personality.
Victims of crime Most of Moll's victims are innocent and unsuspecting women and girls of the upper class. However, Moll also steals from a small child and from a family whose house just burned down, illustrating what a hardened criminal she has become.
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