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The Fortunes and Misfortunes of the Famous Moll Flanders (commonly known as simply “Moll Flanders”) by Daniel Defoe details the life and adventures of a woman of unknown parentage who seeks her fortune through marriage. The book has been called
Moll Flanders is raised until adolescence by a good foster mother, and then gets attached to a household as a servant where she is loved by both sons. The elder son convinces her to sleep with him, but eventually unwilling to marry her he convinces Moll to marry the younger brother. She then is widowed, leaves her children to the care of in-laws, and begins trying to pass herself off as a rich widow to attract a man who will marry her and provide her with security. After a series of marriages, mishaps and plot twists, she eventually ends up in Newgate Prison where she repents and finds love.
Moll Flanders Flash Card
The Elder Brother – One of the two brothers in the family with which Moll spends her teenage years, he falls in love with her and she becomes his mistress, thinking that he intends to marry her when he comes into his inheritance.
Robert – The younger of the two brothers who fall in love with Moll. He eventually marries her, in spite of his family’s disapproval, but dies after five years.
The Draper – Moll’s second husband, whose financial mistakes sink them into poverty. He eventually escapes to France as a fugitive from the law.
The Plantation Owner – A man who marries Moll thinking she has a great fortune. Together they move to Virginia, where he has his plantations. There, Moll learns that he is actually her half-brother and leaves him to return to England.
The Gentleman – A well-to-do man who befriends Moll and eventually makes her his mistress. His wife is mad, but he keeps Moll for six years before an illness and religious experience prompt him to break off the affair.
The Banker – A prosperous man whom Moll agrees to marry if he will divorce his unfaithful wife. They live happily for several years, but he then dies.
Jemy - Also called James and “my Lancashire husband,” he is the only man that Moll has any real affection for. They marry under a mutual deception and then part ways. Eventually they are reunited in prison and begin a new life together in America.
“My Governess” - Moll’s landlady and midwife, later her friend and confederate in crime. She helps Moll manage an inconvenient pregnancy and initiates her into the criminal underworld.
Humphrey – Moll’s son by the husband who was also her brother. She meets him with an overwhelming affection on her return to America, and he very generously helps her get established there.
Read the full text of Moll Flanders at
Listen to the Moll Flanders audio book below.
Daniel Defoe (c. 1659-1661 — 24 April 1731), was an English writer, journalist, and pamphleteer who became famous for his novels Robinson Crusoe(1719) and Moll Flanders (1722). Defoe is notable for being one of the earliest practitioners of the novel, as he helped to popularize the form in Britain, and is even referred to by some as one of the founders of the English novel.
See the following post for Robinson Crusoe and Moll Flanders GRE flashcards and audio.