Study Guide

Assorted Petty Criminals in Moll Flanders

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Assorted Petty Criminals

London must have been a pretty dangerous place back then because the way Moll describes it, there were criminals around every corner. In fact, she names almost as many criminals as she does the victims of their crimes. The many thieves Moll hangs around with are nameless, or are just referred to by aliases, and they usually pass in and out of her life quickly.

Most of the ones with whom Moll works directly, like her thievery tutor and the mail thief, are caught while Moll somehow escapes unscathed. Unfortunately, each time this happens Moll is most concerned with saving her own skin and shows little remorse when those thieves meet their harsh punishments. In fact, usually she's grateful when they're sentenced to execution because it means they won't give her up or turn her in. These other criminals may be caught, but Moll is luckier than most. Unfortunately her dealings with them bring out the worst in our girl.

And although you'd think that seeing her friends and companions get nabbed by the police for small slip-ups or even coincidences – and then get sentenced to hanging – would be enough to convince Moll to give up thievery and a criminal lifestyle, well, to put it frankly, you'd be wrong. She does absolutely nothing of the sort. These people seem to die in vain, often for petty crimes, and their tragic deaths do nothing to prick Moll's conscience, which tells us she is turning into quite the hardened criminal.

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