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Moll Flanders | Study Guide

Daniel Defoe

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Moll Flanders | Section Summaries

See Section Summaries Chart

Timeline of Events

  • 1613

    Moll is born in Newgate prison to an unmarried thief.

    Section 1
  • 1616

    Moll runs away from the gypsies and begins to live with a nurse.

    Section 1
  • 1627

    The nurse dies and Moll goes to live with a wealthy family.

    Section 2
  • Around 1630

    Moll succumbs to the flirtations of the oldest son of her adopted family and becomes his lover.

    Section 2
  • Around the same time

    Moll marries the younger son of her adopted family when her lover refuses to marry her.

    Section 2
  • Around 1636–38

    Moll and her second husband, a draper, live beyond their means.

    Section 3
  • Around 1639

    Moll moves to Virginia with her third husband, not realizing he is her half-brother.

    Section 3
  • 1642

    Moll tells her husband they are siblings; the marriage falls apart and she returns to England.

    Section 4
  • A few years later

    In Bath, England, Moll becomes the mistress of a married gentleman and bears his child.

    Section 4
  • Three years later

    After her lover leaves her, Moll falls in love with and marries Jemy in Lancashire.

    Section 5
  • A month later

    Jemy leaves Moll pregnant; she goes to live with a midwife until the child is born.

    Section 6
  • 1656–61

    Moll marries a banker; she is content until he dies penniless, after a business deal gone bad.

    Section 6
  • 1661 and onward

    Moll lives a lucrative life of crime, until she is caught and sent to Newgate, where she was born.

    Section 7
  • A few years later

    With the help of a minister, Moll reduces her death sentence to transportation to the colonies.

    Section 8
  • A few months later

    Moll and Jemy arrive in Virginia; she reconnects with her son and receives her mother's estate.

    Section 9
  • A few years later

    Moll and Jemy return to England to live a life of repentance in relative wealth.

    Section 9

Section Summaries Chart

Section Summary
Author's Preface Defoe begins by telling readers they will have to form their own opinions about the truth of Moll Flanders's story: "The... Read More
Section 1 Moll Flanders introduces herself as a criminal so well-known she cannot admit her true name because it might be dangerou... Read More
Section 2 The two sons of Moll's adopted family notice her good looks. The elder brother flirts with her and although she resists ... Read More
Section 3 Moll is looking for a new husband "with a tolerable fortune in [her] pocket." Her goal is to marry well: "I was resolved... Read More
Section 4 On her passage back to England, Moll loses much of her belongings, and once again she has to start over. She stays in a ... Read More
Section 5 Now in her early forties, Moll is left to her own devices yet again, looking for a "settled state of living." She meets ... Read More
Section 6 When she returns to London, Moll is pregnant by her fourth husband, Jemy. Her landlady connects her with a midwife, who ... Read More
Section 7 Finding herself nearly destitute after having lived frugally for two years, Moll goes out one night and happening upon a... Read More
Section 8 At first "the horrors of that dismal place"—Newgate prison—drive Moll to regret her criminal activities. Sleepless night... Read More
Section 9 Moll and Jemy arrive in Virginia. She does not want to stay there for fear her relatives—her mother, her half-brother wh... Read More
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