Moll Flanders By Daniel Defoe Summary and Analysis Chapter 2 - Girlhood

Summary

Moll lived with this respectable family until she was almost eighteen years old. Just by being around the daughters during their lessons, Moll learned how to dance, to speak French, to write, and to sing. In fact, she outshone the daughters in everything becoming to a gentlewoman — including beauty — in every respect save one; she had no fortune. Moll was vain about her beauty and was impressed by anyone who commented upon it. Nevertheless, she "had the character too of a very sober, modest, and virtuous young woman," who as yet did not know "what a temptation to wickedness meant."

Soon her great beauty was noticed by both sons of the family and frequently commented upon by them. The elder son was a good-looking, smooth-talking, young man who plotted to seduce Mrs. Betty, as Moll was called. Robin, the younger son, was also attracted to Moll. The family, however, did not worry about the attentions paid to Moll by the sons, for Moll had no fortune.

As fate would have it, the elder son persistently contrived to be alone with the innocent Moll; he bestowed kisses on her lips and guineas (gold coins) in her hands, while declaring his love for her. Since this was Moll's first love affair, she became overwhelmed by the attentions of the elder son and weakened with each encounter. His warmth destroyed her loneliness and his gold erased her poverty. As Moll explains, her vanity was her downfall. She warns young girls to beware of being vain about their beauty, for this vanity causes a young girl not to doubt any man who says he is in love with her.

As time passed, the elder son, persistent in his pursuit, showered Moll with money. Meanwhile, Moll fell deeper and deeper in love. In order to deceive the family about the true state of affairs, Moll treated the elder son quite coolly in the presence of his family.

One afternoon the elder brother slipped a note to Mrs. Betty (Moll) instructing her that he would send her on an errand the next day and then meet her on the way. The next morning, loudly instructing her to go on several errands for him, he told his family he was going to visit a gentleman and asked his sisters to go with him. They refused because they were expecting some company — as he well knew. Just then Sir W.............. H ..............'s coach drove up. The elder brother announced that Sir W.............. desired to speak to him on some urgent business so he dashed off in the coach, only to pick up Mrs. Betty (Moll) as she made her way to the stores on his errands. All, of course, was prearranged and the two were driven to the home of a confidant of his where everything was convenient for mischief and wickedness.

The elder brother declared his love for Moll. He promised to provide for her if she should become pregnant and to marry her as soon as he came into his inheritance. Thus Moll accepted his gift of one hundred guineas, and his promise to give her the same amount each year until they were married. After this Moll made no more resistance to him. Later she performed the errands he had instructed her to, then hurried home. The elder brother stayed out until late at night so there would be no suspicion in the family.

Analysis

Notice that in spite of Moll's declarations about not going into service, she was in fact a servant in this home. Nevertheless, she was treated more as a friend than as a servant.

Moll's vanity was her downfall. Since she believed herself to be beautiful, it was not difficult for her to believe that her beauty could cause even a rich young man to fall in love with her. Therefore, she sincerely believed the elder brother's professions of love and promises to marry her when he came into his inheritance. His compliments and gifts caused her to give up her virtue too easily.

Guineas are gold coins that were used in England during the seventeenth century.

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