Study Guide

Moll Flanders Section 2

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Section 2

The Colchester Boys

  • Taking a moment to talk right to us readers, Moll notes that up until this point of her life she had been pretty virtuous and that her only real flaw was being "too vain" (60).
  • You know what that means. Now, it's time for things to change.
  • The two boys living in the house with Moll take advantage of her vanity to seduce her. Uh oh.
  • Moll talks about the oldest first: he has a lot of experience with seduction and is pretty sophisticated, so he makes Moll interested in him by talking about her when she's not around. She can hear his compliments, even though they're indirect.
  • One day he comes into a room where Moll, his sister, and his brother are. He calls Moll "Betty" and says they've been talking about her, and she's so darn pretty.
  • The sister says that's all very well, but if Moll doesn't have money then it doesn't matter. Harsh.
  • The younger brother promises that he would be interested in a great girl regardless of how much money she has, so take that, sister.
  • An argument ensues about whether money is necessary to be happy in a relationship, and whether good luck trumps it.
  • Moll excuses herself and despite the fact that the conversation shows that she's on good terms with the eldest brother, the sister starts being mean to her.
  • Later, Moll is by herself and the elder brother comes in to her room. Cue the romantic music. He says he's in love with Moll and kisses her. Should we swoon? Not quite yet.
  • Moll is embarrassed but wants to believe him, even though she knows she shouldn't. She starts to think that maybe she is pretty enough to make him fall in love with her. There's that vanity we were talking about.
  • The same thing happens again soon, but this time the rest of the family is gone.
  • He kisses her, um, pretty extensively and we're pretty sure he would have liked things to go farther, as he talks her onto the bed. But when it sounds like someone might discover them, he gives Moll some money and leaves. Moll is amazed by both what he says and what he gives her.
  • Just thirty minutes later, the brother comes back and starts sweet-talking Moll again. He hints at marriage and makes out with her, but they don't have sex. When he leaves, he gives her a lot of money again. What's with this guy?
  • Swayed by the dough, Moll doesn't really worry about getting married, and gets ready to sleep with the brother. She's not concerned with her reputation either. Had the brother known her real thoughts, he could have taken advantage of her even sooner.
  • Meanwhile, they keep their relationship a secret from the others. One day, the brother tells Moll to run an errand for him, and lets her know they'll meet up once she's on her way. He tells the rest of the family he'll be going somewhere else, so no one will suspect he's meeting up with Moll. Then, a carriage belonging to Sir W----- arrives, and the brother says he has to go with it. When Moll leaves on her errand, the brother doubles back to pick her up and then they go to Mile End where they can be alone together.
  • He tells her he wants to marry her and gives her money again, which is all Moll needs to give in. Swayed by the money, she has sex with the brother, and then the pair returns to their home as if nothing happened.
  • They keep having sex secretly for almost six months. Miraculously, Moll doesn't get pregnant.
  • However, another problem happens when the other brother tells Moll he's in love with her, too. Uh oh.
  • He proposes (um, Moll, is there anything you want to share with him? You know, a little secret?). Moll says no.
  • Even those she has refused him, the young brother lets his family know he's in love with Moll, and they totally disapprove. Moll finds out she will probably be kicked out of the house any day now.
  • After the younger brother proposes again to try and save her, Moll just feels worse. She realizes that perhaps the older brother might not want to marry her anymore. Or maybe he never wanted to marry her at all.
  • When the family situation gets worse, Moll realizes she must talk to the older brother. When they get a chance to be alone, she tells him she has a problem.
  • It takes her a while to confide in him, but finally she says that she thinks the family suspects their relationship and she's going to be kicked out.
  • He reassures her and apologizes, saying that they should be safe and that no one suspects them. Then, he blames his brother Robin's public attraction to her for the family's weird grumpiness.
  • Moll admits Robin proposed to her and that she's said no so far. She thinks the family will disapprove of her even more when they find out.
  • The older brother tells her he'll try to think of a solution. When Moll tells him that she thinks of them as being married already, he says he'll act like they are even though they aren't. Then he gives her money and kisses, but they don't have sex. (Nor does he propose, we notice.)
  • About a week later, the brothers speak, and then the elder brother tells Moll about their conversation. Apparently, the brothers have told each other that they both love Moll, so now our girl's embroiled in a rather messy love triangle.
  • Moll, for one, worries that she won't be able to turn down Robin, especially considering the fact that he has told his brother that he loves Moll and totally doesn't care about her lack of money.
  • When the older brother tells Moll this, she responds by saying it's too bad – she's already married (sort of…).
  • This prompts the older brother to grow evasive. He tries to convince her not to say anything about that.
  • They argue and eventually the older brother says she should marry Robin. Poor Moll just about faints.
  • The older brother revives her and asks why she freaked out. When she asks him why he's going back on his earlier promise to marry her, he responds with a technicality. He said he would marry her after inheriting the estate (138), and that might not be for decades. Right.
  • So she should take advantage of Robin's proposal and get married now, he tells her.
  • Having grown a bit of a backbone through all this, Moll tells him off for treating her like a "whore" (141) when he says that they can make their relationship go away if she just marries Robin.
  • She says she can't stop loving him enough to be married to another guy – let alone his brother – and it will never happen.
  • After double-checking that Moll is still not pregnant, the older brother splits, leaving Moll alone with her thoughts.
  • The following week they have another conversation in which they cover over all the same ground. Moll continues to refuse to marry Robin and the elder brother continues to refuse to marry her. How can this possibly end well?
  • When she doesn't change her mind, he threatens to leave. Then Moll cries and he stays, but says he won't have sex with her anymore just in case she ends up with his brother.
  • The realization that he doesn't want to marry her anymore literally makes Moll sick for over a month. Doctors lose hope but eventually she manages to recover. The family thinks she has love-sickness and fights over who's causing all this heartbreak.
  • The siblings of the house argue and Robin says again that he would marry Moll if she would have him. At this, one of the sisters decides that Moll should be kicked out immediately.
  • The woman of the house goes to talk to Moll about this after Moll finds out. Moll tells her that she never loved Robin and there's no danger of them getting together, which pleases the woman of the house. She seems down to let Moll stick around.
  • But then Robin and his mother fight about his relationship with Moll, and Robin says that he does love her even if Moll doesn't love him back.
  • After the family argues for bit it's clear that if Robin convinces Moll to marry him, the family will disown him. So in response to this, Robin hints that his brother and Moll have some kind of relationship. Not good.
  • The elder brother and one of the sisters visit Moll at her sickbed. The sister leaves on an errand and the brother fills Moll in on what happened downstairs. Moll says he caused her sickness by going back on his word. She also assures him she will never marry Robin.
  • The elder brother seems distraught and the sister returns, so their conversation comes to a halt.
  • Moll, at least, is glad she told him how she felt.
  • Though she slowly heals over the next month, Moll still seems really unhappy. For months she worries the family is going to kick her out, which probably just makes matters worse.
  • Finally, she is kicked out of the house. Here's how it all goes down:
  • Moll tells the mother of the family that Robin keeps proposing to her and she keeps saying no, out of deference to the family's kindness.
  • This pleases the mother and she finds Robin to figure out if this is true. Robin jokes around for a while and eventually says that it is; that Moll told him she would marry him if the family gave permission.
  • This account of Moll's good behavior makes the family think of her more favorably and it seems like they might give her permission after all. (We guess the fact that she might not want that permission is beside the point.)
  • The mother even arranges for the elder brother to be alone with Moll so he can persuade her to marry Robin.
  • During their talk, the elder brother advises Moll to marry Robin because it is a great opportunity and she probably won't get another one. He is very persuasive. He even gives Moll 500 pounds, which is a whopping amount of money for that day and age. Then the jerk breaks up with her.
  • Moll is devastated. It's the final nail in the coffin. She agrees to say that she'll marry Robin.
  • Suddenly Moll skips ahead to her wedding night with Robin and says the other brother gets Robin drunk, so the fact that Moll is no longer a virgin would remain a secret.
  • But let's not get ahead of ourselves. Moll wants to explain what happens in between. Apparently, the elder brother convinces the mother of the house that Moll and Robin should marry, and then goes to speak with Robin about the whole thing.
  • Soon after, Robin comes to Moll, proposes again, and this time she says yes. On their first night together he is too drunk to have sex with her, but the next day she lies and says they did. He never finds out what happened between her and his brother. Everyone is none the wiser.
  • Robin and Moll have two children before he dies just five years later. By then, Moll has 1200 pounds and doesn't have to worry about her kids, who are adopted back into the family.
  • Robin's death doesn't bother Moll that much, because she never really loved him, even after all those years. Whenever they are together she imagines herself with the elder brother, which makes her feel pretty immoral. And it makes us feel a little creeped out.

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