by Daniel Defoe
Moll Flanders Wealth Quotes
How we cite our quotes: (Paragraph)
"Why, what can you earn?" says she; "what can you get at your work?"
"Threepence," said I, "when I spin, and fourpence when I work plain work."
"Alas! poor gentlewoman," said she again, laughing, "what will that do for thee?"
"It will keep me," says I, "if you will let me live with you." And this I said in such a poor petitioning tone, that it made the poor woman's heart yearn to me, as she told me afterwards. (22-25)
When we learn the kind of numbers a small girl like Moll could expect to earn for honest labor like "plain work," it's not surprising she would turn to a job with better hours and better pay. Too bad that job is prostitution.
I was frighted out of my wits almost, and knew not what to do, for I was, as it were, turned out of doors to the wide world, and that which was still worse, the old honest woman had two-and-twenty shillings of mine in her hand, which was all the estate the little gentlewoman had in the world; and when I asked the daughter for it, she huffed me and laughed at me, and told me she had nothing to do with it. (51)
Okay, it's sad that Moll's nurse has died, there's no doubt about it. But what Moll is really worried about here is where she's going to live and how she can get her hands on the dough her nurse was holding for her. Even at such a young age, Moll is first and foremost concerned with cash.
[…] if a young woman have beauty, birth, breeding, wit, sense, manners, modesty, and all these to an extreme, yet if she have not money, she's nobody, she had as good want them all for nothing but money now recommends a woman; the men play the game all into their own hands. (63)
Moll, you sure do tell it like it is, no matter how bleak. Check out this laundry list of accomplishments. Those are a lot of great qualities that should matter in a person, right? And yet, as the book points out here, without "money" those qualities are totally meaningless in any woman. If a woman doesn't have money she might as well not exist.