Study Guide

Moll Flanders Sex

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In Moll Flanders, sex is a kind of currency. Within marriage, and outside that institution, women like Moll trade it, whether consciously or unconsciously, for housing and food. Some women even make it their profession. Sex is definitely not always associated with love, and sometimes not even with pleasure. More often it's linked to basic survival and to power in relationships. And finally, it frequently ends in some kind of inconvenience for all those involved, especially if it's outside of marriage. For women, that's usually getting pregnant; for men, it's usually losing money.

Questions About Sex

  1. How many husbands does Moll end up having? How many relationships does she have with men for money?
  2. What is the relationship between sex, money, and marriage in the book? Do marriages and money-based relationships seem fundamentally different from each other?         
  3. Are there any instances of love in the book? Do those match up with sexual encounters? Why or why not?      
  4. What kind of attitude does the book seem to take regarding Moll's sexual activities? How do you think Moll views them?

Chew on This

For Moll, sex is a transaction, just like marriage.

The fact that so many of Moll's children simply disappear altogether after she gives birth to them suggests that there are no real consequences to sex in her life.

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