Study Guide

Moll Flanders Section 6

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Section 6

Marriage to a Banker

  • Back in London, pregnant and alone, Moll remembers her old buddy the banker. The two exchanged letters while she was out of town, so she knows his divorce is in process but official.
  • Though she realizes the guy she was just married to is pretty much out of the picture, she's still a bit hesitant to get involved with the banker when she's pregnant with another man's child. So she decides to just bide her time until the baby is born. Then she'll be good to go.
  • Moll is lodging in a house, and when the people who live there discover that she's pregnant, they kick her out. Still, the house-owner brings in a midwife to help Moll.
  • The midwife says money matters more than reputation, and she agrees to help Moll and keep her secrets. Moll realizes that everyone thinks she's a prostitute and she'd better take any help she can get, even though it will cost her.
  • The midwife suggests that Moll come stay with her through the birth of the child and then gives her a quote for her services. She offers Moll three rates to pick from, according to her funds and status. Moll, of course, picks the cheapest one.
  • In the meantime, before Moll moves into the midwife's house, the midwife promises to make sure her stay at her current place is nicer and even sends one of her servants to help Moll. What an awesome lady…
  • …Or not. Moll discovers that many of the children the midwife delivers are quickly put up for adoption in shady situations. Not good. When Moll confesses that she's worried about what happens to these children, the midwife tells her that they're better off because at least they're alive.
  • The midwife promises Moll that the children go to good places, but Moll doesn't totally buy it. It seems impossible that all the people who would adopt children in that way are good.
  • At one point, the midwife offers to help Moll abort her baby instead, but Moll quickly tells her no and the midwife seems to take back the suggestion entirely.
  • In the end, Moll goes to stay with the midwife and give birth to her baby. While there, she's happy with her treatment but soon realizes the midwife is doing well financially because she's running a whorehouse on the side. Well that's quite the business combo.
  • Moll feels like the whole place is horribly immoral, even though a fair amount of the immorality she's worried about is a figment of her imagination.
  • Meanwhile she gets a letter from her friend the banker, saying he's almost ready to go through with his divorce and wants to make sure Moll will still marry him. Still pregnant, Moll puts him off for a while longer by telling him to think it over very carefully.
  • She has a boy and the birth goes smoothly. A few weeks pass and then the banker sends another letter. This one says he's divorced and he really wants to get married to Moll.
  • Not only is he divorced, but also his wife killed herself, so you could even argue he's a widower. That's way more respectable.
  • He says the only thing that will make him feel better is seeing Moll and getting back together with her, so Moll arranges a meeting, but in the meantime she has to figure out what to do with her new son. Oh yeah, that.
  • The midwife can tell that Moll's upset and presses her for more details about her situation, so Moll tells her everything. Except for some details of course. Okay, okay, she mostly just tells the midwife about her most recent husband.
  • No problem, says the midwife. The only snag is they have to make the kid disappear. Moll is really reluctant to do so, though. She worries that anyone who takes her child would ignore him and then he would die.
  • Moll points out she's treating the midwife like her own mother, and it seems to Moll like the midwife knows a lot about her past, which is eerie and frightening.
  • Nevertheless, the two continue to have long, deep, and difficult conversations about the wisdom of giving up children for money. Moll doesn't just want to give up her son, but she's running out of options and can't put the banker off anymore.
  • In the end, the midwife makes a secret arrangement that will cost Moll more than usual, but it will mean her kid is totally taken care of and she can visit him twice a year. Sounds like an okay deal.
  • The woman who will take care of the child comes to visit, and Moll meets her and she seems a-okay. The woman is plenty nice and Moll is confident that she'll continue to be so, because Moll gave her so much money.
  • Childless yet again, Moll sets her sights back on the banker, who says he wants to meet up in a town outside London. In order to make him think she's been out of town the whole time, Moll decides to leave and return. So clever, that Moll. With that, she leaves behind the midwife and the rest of her life there. On to bigger and brighter prospects.
  • Moll goes out to a town called Stone, stays a couple of days, and then returns to London. On the way back, she tells the banker to meet her in Stony-Stratford. He doesn't get there in time, so they meet in Brickhill instead.
  • When they meet up, he acts a wee bit strange, and says they should stop at a hotel right away.
  • They walk to the nearby church with the hotelier, and Moll begins to realize the banker's probably going to propose, and she's probably going to say yes.
  • Back at their hotel, the banker shows her all the documents that prove he's divorced. Then he whips out a diamond ring and a marriage license. He says he wants to get married ASAP (though we're not quite sure what the big rush is). He attacks her with kisses and she finally says yes. Cue champagne and fireworks.
  • The banker is really happy, and so is Moll, for that matter. But still, she feels bad about her past because she's worried that he's just replacing one whore with another criminal. No matter, she decides, she'll just have to do her best.
  • Meanwhile, the banker has rustled up a minister and gotten everything organized for their ceremony. The minister meets Moll, and then they have the wedding right then and there in the hotel. Husband #5 is on the books.
  • The hotelier and the minister keep their quiet wedding a secret, and other people think they were already married by the time they'd gotten there. Scandals averted.
  • However, Moll has a narrow escape soon after. She's looking out the window and sees three men arrive in town. They go into another hotel. She recognizes one of them is her former husband from Lancashire – you know, the one who went to Ireland.
  • She doesn't know what to do or why he's there, and hopes her current husband doesn't find out about any of it. Then, a couple hours later, Lancashire husband and his friends leave, and Moll can relax. Phew, that was a close call.
  • The next day, they find out some robbers have been at work in the area. Coincidence? Probably not. The police think it could've been the three men who came to the other hotel the previous day. So Moll tells them she knew one by sight and he was a good guy, so they probably weren't the robbers. This helps get the men off the hook, it seems – at least for the time being. Plus it appears Moll still has a soft spot for her Lancashire man.
  • Moll and her husband wait a few days, until it's safe, and then return to London. Once there, Moll is in much better condition because she is a married woman with somewhere to go and a restored reputation.
  • She says she wishes things could've stayed so happy and good, because in that time of her life she began to become a better person. Unfortunately, that time was short-lived.
  • Their wonderful marriage lasts only five years, and then everything goes to pot.
  • The banker loses a lot of money from a friend's betrayal. With all the stress, he grows sick and dies. This leaves Moll, now forty-eight years old, alone with their two children and with little money yet again. Why does she keep landing in the same predicament over and over again?

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