Moll Flanders

Moll Flanders Character List

Moll Flanders

Moll's most salient characteristics are her ingenuity, energy, and determination to survive and do well. She is willing to sacrifice moral principles in order to prosper, but does not appear to be extraordinarily wicked: when her continued prosperity seems secure, she can be an exemplary wife, sober and virtuous. She is beautiful, clever, and talented, and her education is better than those of most girls of her class, since she learned the lessons of the young ladies she served as a maid. Her manners are generally good and she has clean habits, enabling her to pass as a lady if she chooses. She rarely lets herself despair, believing that drooping under the weight of misfortune doubles it. She has a great amount of self control, and in particular is able to keep important secrets from people close to her for long periods of time. She is an excellent actress, and can take on different characters as easily as changing her clothes, but prefers to appear as a lady. Although she marries for money several times, she is capable of deep affection, and devotes a great deal of time, money, and effort to saving her Lancashire husband. Her affection for her children is not terribly strong, however. There are some things she refuses to do, such as having abortions or being a streetwalker. She is a a very cautious thief, never engaging in violence or house-breaking, and never revealing more about herself than necessary. Her religious principles vary depending on her circumstances: she is fairly tolerant of different sects, and usually does not seem to think about God much. She is very fervent for a while in Newgate, but that wears off as her circumstances improve - however, she is never an atheist.

Her Nurse

a pious lady, poor but refined, who takes care of Moll in her extreme youth. She makes some money by caring for orphans.

The Mayor's Lady

a generous lady who takes Moll in as a favored maid, but doesn't like the idea of her marrying her son, although she eventually agrees.

The Mayor's Eldest Daughter

a sharp-tongued young lady who says that "[she has] the money and [wants] the beauty; but as times go now, the first will do without the last."

The Mayor's Youngest Daughter

also not as beautiful or talented as Moll.

The Mayor's Eldest Son (Moll's first lover)

"a gay gentleman that knew the town as well as the country." He seduces Moll by cleverly complimenting her, and giving her presents of money. He is not so in love, however, to oppose his brother's marrying her, after which they are no longer lovers.

The Mayor's Youngest Son, Robert or Robin (Moll's first husband)

a "plain and honest" young gentleman who makes "good honest professions of being in love with" Moll and "proposes fairly and honorably to marry" her. He stubbornly insists on marrying Moll, a servant girl, and obtains the consent of his mother. He made a good and agreeable husband for Moll, but she was never in love with him.

The Gentleman-Draper (Moll's second husband)

"A tradesman ... that was something of a gentleman too," he "had this excellence, that he valued nothing of expense and... Œtis enough to tell you that in about two years and a quarter he broke, and was not so happy to get over into the Mint, but got into a sponging-house, being arrested in an action too heavy for him to give bail." He has good manners and is very civil to Moll, but his expensive habits, including traveling pretending to be a lord, ruins them financially.

Moll's Widowed Friend

While in the Mint, Moll meets this "very sober, good sort of a woman," who invites her home, where Moll hoped to meet and marry a captain.

Moll's Friend, who marries a captain

a young lady who follows Moll's advice to catch and humble a disdainful lover. She is clever and high-spirited.

The Captain

husband of the previous. He is proud at first, but not smart enough to escape Moll's plan, and becomes a humble and obedient husband.

Moll's Brother and Third Husband, Humphrey

"a man of infinite good nature, but... no fool." He loses much of his good nature when he discovers that Moll is his sister, and attempts suicide. Later, he becomes "old and infirm both in body and mind... very fretful and passionate, almost blind, and capable of nothing."

Moll's Mother and Mother-in-Law

"a mighty cheerful, good-humoured old woman." She tells Moll many entertaining stories about convicts transported to Virginia; in one of these, Moll learns the truth of her incestuous marriage. Her mother's reaction to the news is to want to keep it quiet.

Moll's Landlady at Bath

"though she did not keep an ill house, as we call it, yet had none of the best principles in herself." She kindly befriends Moll and sets her up with the Gentleman of Bath, below.

The Gentleman of Bath (Moll's second lover)

"a man of honour and virtue, as well as of great estate." He has a chaste relationship with Moll for a long time (because of his great respect for her virtue), then an unchaste one for several years, then coldly leaves her after he recovers from a serious illness. For a discussion of his morals, see Part 7.

The Woman from the North

"a north-country woman that went for a gentlewoman." She lures Moll up north and sets her up with the Lancashire husband. She is in fact a member of Moll's Lancashire husband's gang of highwaymen.

A Bank Clerk

"very honest and just to" Moll, he introduces her to the Grave Gentleman.

The Grave Gentleman (later Moll's fifth)

"a quiet, sensible, sober man; virtuous, modest, sincere, and in his business diligent and just." He divorces an unfaithful wife to marry Moll, who he believes to be virtuous. He loses heart and dies when his business fails.

Moll's Lancashire Husband (the fourth), James

"He had... the appearance of an extraordinary fine gentleman; he was tall, well-shaped, and had an extraordinary address." This gentleman is in fact an adept highwayman, but Moll finds him to be very good company, and she loves him very much. He balks at being transported, and although he can play the gentleman very well, he fears any other role, such as that of an indentured servant. See parts 9 and 17 especially.

Moll's Landlady in London

In the governess' words, "not such a nice lady as you take her to be."

Moll's Governess (the midwife)

"an eminent lady in her way." She is an unprincipled woman who manages the affairs of many whores, deals with the problems of unmarried mothers, and also eventually has a pawnshop and deals with thieves. She probably could induce abortions, and disposed of unwanted children. She is an impressive figure who poses a challenge to Moll's ideas and to the reader's as well. In one sense, her organized vice threatens everything commonly thought of as good. She is so hardened as to be immune, apparently, to feelings of guilt or affection - the feelings, in fact, which in the conventional scheme of morality ideally motivate most human actions. What is so disturbing about her is not simply this inhumanity - cruel and remorseless villains are stock figures - but rather the fact that she is living proof that financial motivations work as well, if not better, than emotional ones. Moll's narrative is full of references to her governess' kind behavior: full example, once the woman sent her a roast chicken and a bottle of sherry, which she thought "surprisingly good and kind." This seeming kindness is not the result of the governess' affection for Moll; it is part of her business plan. By the same logic, the governess tells Moll that she need not scruple to give her baby to strangers: a stranger, motivated by money, will be just as loving as a natural mother.

A Pretty Child

a trusting little girl going home alone from dancing school, whose necklace is stolen by Moll.

Moll's Schoolmistress (the expert thief)

an expert at lifting gold watches from ladies' sides, she teaches Moll the tricks of the trade. She is finally caught and hanged for shoplifting.

The Pair of Thieves

"a young woman and a fellow that went for her husband, though as it appeared afterwards, she was not his wife, but they were partners,it seems, in the trade they carried on, and partners in something else. In short, they robbed together, lay together, were taken together, and at last were hanged together." Moll worked with them for a while, but thought their methods too clumsy.

The Young Fellow (thief who steals with Moll dressed as Gabriel Spencer)

"a young fellow that was nimble enough at his business." He gets caught making a rash attempt, and tries to betray Moll but doesn't know her true identity.

The Woman Thief (arrested in Moll's place)

a poor woman, who tries to betray Moll when she is arrested in her place. She is transported.

Moll's Drunken Lover

a fine but inebriated baronet who picks Moll up at a fair and is later robbed by her. He is a good honest gentleman when sober, and a pleasant but lustful one when drunk.

The Master Mercer

He pays dearly for his stubbornness in refusing to let Moll leave his shop when she is suspected of having stolen from there.

A Rude Journeyman

"Impudent and unmanly to the last degree," he treats Moll roughly.

Mr. William and Mr. Alexander

politer journeymen, who catch the real thief.

The Constable

"a good, substantial kind of man, and a man of good sense."

The Porter

a poor man who acts as a witness for the Mercer's rudeness.

Moll's Attorney

"a very creditable sort of man."

Lady Betty

"a little miss, a young lady of about twelve or thirteen years old," who believes Moll when she pretends to be a family friend, and loses her gold watch as a result.

Her Little Sister

about nine years old, a pretty child.

Jack the Gambler

a gentleman who lets Moll gamble with his money. He generously divides the profits with her, giving her a bad conscience since she had already stolen quite a lot.

A Goldsmith

a fair man, in whose shop Moll is surprised while planning to steal.

Sir T.B.

an alderman and a justice of the peace, who judges Moll not guilty of stealing from the goldsmith; he releases her partly because of her wealth.

Two Wenches

servants in the house where Moll is finally taken, "two fiery dragons could not have been more furious than they were." Very loyal maid-servants, they resisted the governess' attempts at bribery.

The Master (Andrew Johnson) and Mistress of the House

a fairly compassionate couple.


a thief in Newgate, who shocks Moll with her careless gaiety and lack of fear or repentance.

The Ordinary of Newgate

a hypocritical clergyman who spent his days trying to get prisoners to confess and getting drunk.

A Keeper at Newgate

He baldly tells Moll that she should prepare for death, but does not seem cruel.

The Minister

a good pious man who helps Moll to sincere repentance, and obtains a reprieve for her.

The Boatswain

an officer on the ship that takes Moll to Virginia. He is a generally courteous and compassionate person, but is especially so when he finds out that Moll is rich.

The Captain of the Ship

"one of the best-humoured gentlemen in the world," who was "easily brought to accommodate [Moll and James] as well as [they] could desire.

Mrs. Owen

a chairwoman who shows Moll where her brother and son live.

Moll's Son and Nephew, Humphrey

"a handsome, comely young gentleman in flourishing circumstances," a "kind, dutiful, and obliging" son to Moll.

The Quaker

"a faithful, generous, and steady friend to [Moll and James]" who helps them settle in Virginia.