Study Guide

Moll Flanders Section 4

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Section 4

The Bath Guy

  • Back in England, Moll is absolutely thrilled to be home. After living in Virginia for eight years, she says she doesn't want to leave England ever again.
  • The trip on the ship is eventful – they stop in Ireland and Wales on the way – but Moll finally makes it back to London. Unfortunately, her belongings are still on the ship, which is headed on to Bristol. Oops.
  • The ship comes into some trouble so she loses much of the money and goods she'd brought with her from America. Our girl's penniless and husbandless once again. Can't she catch a break?
  • With no other options, she heads to Bristol to pick up whatever she can salvage of her stuff. On her way, she stops in Bath. She returns there to stay after she recovers her remaining belongings.
  • Bath is a dangerous place. Everyone's money-hungry, and it's easy to lose your cash. Moll blows through all of the money she still has and – surprise, surprise – can't find anyone who might want to marry her.
  • She does, however, make friends with her landlady and one gentleman caller.
  • Her landlady, it turns out, is sympathetic to Moll's financial woes, so she basically stops charging her rent.
  • For almost a year, Moll stays in Bath and gets to know her gentleman caller better. She lets him think she's a widow and finds out that he has a wife who has gone mad.
  • The gentleman stays true to his married status and morals; he doesn't try to sleep with Moll.
  • But then, the sympathetic landlady meddles and convinces him to start supporting Moll financially, even though Moll isn't his actually mistress (let alone his wife).
  • Even though Moll would like his money, she keeps telling him no. It just doesn't seem right.
  • So, instead, the interfering landlady tries to trick the gentleman into giving Moll money. Finally, he calls Moll into his bedroom and forces her to take his money. He buys her clothes, hires a maid, and starts treating her like a mistress, despite the fact that they still aren't sleeping together.
  • The gentleman, who seems relatively well intentioned, wants Moll to move to London with him. But before that can happen, he falls ill while traveling, and Moll hauls him back to Bath to recover.
  • Once he recovers, he tells her he loves her and says he'll protect her virtue no matter what.
  • The two travel to Bristol and Gloucester, where they share a hotel room. They sleep in the same bed but, nope, they still don't have sex, just in case you were wondering.
  • Back in Bath, this goes on for about two years or so. Then, one night, they have too much to drink and have sex. Uh oh. Everything changes. They regret it, but they obviously can't take it back.
  • To make matters worse, Moll is pregnant. Luckily, the landlady is around to help them handle their sticky situation.
  • The gentleman continues to give money to Moll, who saves it for the future. She has a boy, and the gentleman tells her to take their son to London, where he sets Moll up in her own place in Hammersmith. She's like a wife to him except they're not married. It's not a great situation, but it'll have to do for now.
  • In fact, this goes on for six whole years. The couple has three children, but two sadly die.
  • One day Moll gets a letter from him saying he's ill, but she can't go help him because his wife's family is in town.
  • She can't get ahold of him so she dresses up like a maid to spy on him, which is when she hears that he's probably going to die.
  • Moll freaks out because she knows this marks the end of her meal ticket. She's totally glad she was so thrifty up until then, but she still worries about how she will take care of her son.
  • Eventually, she finds out that her gentleman has survived, and that' he has gone to the country to heal.
  • Almost half a year goes by, though, and she doesn't hear from him. He doesn't send her or their child money either. Shmoop smells trouble.
  • He writes her a letter saying that after recovering from his illness, he has resolved to be a better person, so he has decided to pull the plug on their affair. He wants her to go back to Bath and says he will take their kid if she wants him to.
  • Poor Moll. Her feelings are really hurt. These two have been together for quite a few years, after all. But then (and only then) she remembers that she had never actually divorced the linen-draper, which means she has been sinning this whole time – for decades. Whoops.
  • She doesn't know what to do. She decides not to go to Bath in case she is tempted to sin again, but she is still not sure whether she should give up her child or not.
  • So Moll writes the gentleman a letter explaining her situation and asks him for money so she can go back to Virginia. Secretly, though, she just wants to stay put in England.
  • Her plan works, and she receives a bit of money from him. Oh, and he totally takes care of their son.
  • But where does that leave Moll? On her own again, of course. Luckily, she has been saving money this whole time, so she decides to start over.
  • Only there's one small problem: now she's forty-two, not twenty-five, which makes things much tougher. She doesn't know anyone and has no friends. No one seems to want her and she tries to save money, but eventually she'll run out, and then what?
  • Suddenly, she gets an awesome idea. She'll move out of the city and into the country, so she can save some money. One of her neighbors has family in Liverpool, in Lancashire, who invite Moll to live with them.
  • It's only later that Moll realizes that the woman is trying to trick her because she thinks Moll is rich. At this point, Moll's still in the dark about this, so she agrees to the move to Liverpool.
  • Just in case, though, she goes to the bank to get some advice. She's still worried about her financial situation, and you certainly can't blame her for that.
  • She meets a banker she trusts and he recommends another friend, who Moll thinks is honest and good, from what she can tell.
  • When she explains most of her situation to this banker, he says she should put her money in the bank or get someone to act as steward and watch over it.
  • He invites her to his home to discuss it further. There, they talk about his honesty, and Moll seems to trust him. He explains that his wife acts like a prostitute and he gets cheated on all the time.
  • Annoyed that he keeps wanting to talk about his own family life, Moll quickly gets frustrated. She really just wants advice on her finances. But of course this guy has got something else on his mind.
  • As it turns out, the banker's the one in need of advice. He asks Moll what she thinks of his marital problems, and she says he should get a divorce.
  • Of course it turns out this banker really just wants to sleep with Moll. But our girl has gone moral, and she says she won't sleep with him as long as he's married, to which he responds that she's the only person he would get divorced for. Wow, those feelings grew fast.
  • Moll decides they can talk about it later. Good move, Moll.
  • The next night they have dinner together and Moll decides he's good husband material, and she can't deny that she's in serious need of a spouse. But she has to play her cards carefully.
  • He tries to get her drunk and then suggests they get married. It's maybe not the most romantic move, but it still kind of works on a desperate Moll.
  • She wants to say yes, but in order to secure him she spends more time manipulating him. Wow, they're off to a great start for a healthy marriage.
  • Apparently, he wants her to sign an agreement saying they'll get married as soon as he dumps his wife, but Moll doesn't want to do this. She wants to keep herself free in case she stumbles upon something better when she moves to the country.
  • Still, when she leaves the banker, she thinks she just might marry him after all. As soon as he gets a divorce, of course. Moll wants to keep herself free for what might happen in the country. So Moll heads out of town, but only after she has left the banker in charge of all of her money, which does not seem like a very good idea if you ask Shmoop. She says she'll wait to hear from him when he gets divorced.

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