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Moll Flanders

Moll Flanders


by Daniel Defoe

Analysis: Three-Act Plot Analysis

For a three-act plot analysis, put on your screenwriter’s hat. Moviemakers know the formula well: at the end of Act One, the main character is drawn in completely to a conflict. During Act Two, she is farthest away from her goals. At the end of Act Three, the story is resolved.

Act I

Moll, the daughter of a criminal, starts off trying to lead an honest life. Her ambition soon gets the best of her, though, as she goes from one troubled relationship to another. Husband after husband either dies, or runs away, and she's left penniless and alone.

Act II

Faced with poverty, Moll moves lining up husband after husband to lining up patsy after patsy. No longer able to land a man, she opts to start stealing and performing cons. With each successful crime she pulls off, she becomes bolder and more confident, and therefore less likely to stop. But even the now notorious Moll can't escape the law.


Moll is arrested and imprisoned, and narrowly escapes a death sentence. She is sent to America with one of her old husbands, where they restore their fortunes and eventually return to England, rich and ready for a new life.

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