Thursday, December 22, 2011

"Incest and Whoredom" -- Defoe's Moll Flanders

Moll Flanders is like a Le Morte D'Arthur of sex. Given the French colloquialism for an orgasm, one could even think of Moll Flanders as a Le Petite Morte D'Arthur, except that in this case, the Arthur would be a female figure -- Moll herself.

Defoe's style is very plain-spoken and very tightly episodic, just like Thomas Malory's style. And so the comparison between the two can be easily seen.

But there's another easily drawn comparison -- between Moll Flanders and the Marquis de Sade's Juliette. Juliette is a 1,300-page-long novel charting the progress of Juliette through the sadistic world of aristocratic sex, scandal, and murder. It's an incredible book, unbelievably powerful in its scope of imagination, as Camille Paglia points out, and unflinchingly on the side of evil.

Moll Flanders is a bit more balanced between the world of morality and the world of amorality. Defoe moralizes at the beginning of his book, trying to counteract the feelings of excitement that the readers might get from the sex stories or the thieving stories. But he is so plain-spoken in his style, that there's never a sense of total regret in the course of the. Rather, Moll is seen as facing situations of necessity and acting in whatever way she can.

I think there are a lot of differences between Sade's Juliette and Defoe's Moll. The sensuality of both books is very powerful.

The sensuality of Sade eventually works itself up into a truly murderous frenzy. The opening scene of Sade's novel, where Juliette is brought into a room with women and a little girl, and has sex with all of them, is obviously meant to be arousing. But even this first scene is a sex of force -- it's very forward-thrusting. And, eventually the sexuality works its way into murder, which doesn't turn me on so much.

Moll Flanders' sense of sensuality is also overt. Although sex act itself is never expressly described, as far as I can remember, when sex is the subject of a passage, it is very strongly felt. And, in my opinion, it's felt from a woman's point of view -- or, rather, from Defoe's imagination of a woman's point of view. One can really feel Moll's desire -- vaginal desire -- and vaginal satisfaction. When Moll speaks of being pregnant, I (at least) almost feel pregnant along with her.

But another interesting difference between Sade's Juliette and Defoe's Moll Flanders is the social outlook. Sade's Juliette is as bombastic and overwhelming as the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Wars. But Defoe's Moll is a product of the pre-Civil War and Civil War years in England. Her attitude toward life seems to match that of the poets Samuel Johnson speaks of in his Lives of the Poets.

Whereas Sade's philosophy takes Machiavellianism beyond an extreme, Defoe's reduces its power by shifting its sphere of influence. The philosophy of Moll is somewhat Machiavellian -- or, what the conventional idea of Machiavellianism is -- except that it is perhaps a Machiavellian philosophy of the middle class. There's the same sense of cold calculation involved that might go into building an empire. But now, the sense of cold calculation, based on necessity, goes into building a household, a life for two people.

It's interesting to see how, in Moll Flanders, there are two distinct halves to this book. In the first half of the book, Moll is consantly getting married and re-married. In the second half of the book, she's too old to have children, and thus, it seems to her, too old to get married again. And so she takes on the life of a thief.

I'd guess that Moll's life as a thief begins around the time of the Restoration -- so that the first half of her life is pre-Civil War, and the second half is post-Civil War. In this sense, there might be a statement made as to the character of England before and after the war.

The key to it might be that the husband Moll eventually ends up with for good is named Jemmy, or is rather nicknamed Jemmy. Jemmy would be a generic name for James. And James could possibly be seen as King James. And now -- forgive me if I get my history all wrong. But I think King James was exiled during the time of Defoe's writing of this book, around 1720. And the book is conceived to have been written by Moll herself, around the age of seventy, in 1683, which, I think, was around the time that King James took the throne from Charles II.

Moll's life of theft follows upon her marrying Jemmy, being gotten with child by him, and then being left by him -- not because he is deserting her, but because he is trying to make his fortune in Ireland. But both Moll (who re-marries, but then loses that husband as well) and Jemmy end up becoming thieves, and are both cast into Newgate prison, where they reunite with each other and begin their efforts at a happier life.

So this seems like it could possibly be a story about England reuniting with King James. But I don't know enough about British history to make a really solid guess at it.

But what really strikes me about the very clearly delineated halves of Moll's life is that they seem to be, at least from a twenty-first century view, two un-integrated halves of a normal life. On the one side of the life is sexuality. On the other side of the life is business.

Granted, in Moll's case the business is thievery. And though it could be assumed that Moll's business life is thievery because that's the only business a woman would be allowed into in her times, it's also possible, given that Moll's final husband Jemmy also lives the life of a thief, that thievery was simply thought of as a profession of the poor in Post-War England.

What I'd rather venture to guess is that Moll, as a woman, was attempting, through the first half of her life, to find a husband. But after all Moll's bad luck with husbands, Moll finally has to take on a profession of her own. So, not desiring to go into prostitution, Moll goes into the business of thievery.

But from the very beginning of the book, or, as soon as Moll, as a little girl, is able to think for herself, Moll wants nothing more than to be able to work for herself. Her first desire is to get a skill by which she can make her own money, so that she doesn't need to answer to anybody else -- man or woman.

Moll is simply socialized, like both men and women are, in her first household experience, to be more interested in the love of men than seeing to her own welfare. And, step by step, she gets herself past an age where she can perform any kind of skill where she may have, had she started at an earlier age, been able to make her own way in life.

So Moll's life, overly based in a love aspect for the first half, becomes overly based in a business aspect in the second half. But, since the business aspect had been neglected all through the first part of her life, Moll is thrown to destiny regarding what career it is that will be her obsession.

Destiny leads Moll into prison. But it also leads her back to her husband Jemmy. And, once Moll has integrated both her love life and her business life, she is able finally to get onto her own to feet. Her story ends with her living in comparative prosperity with her husband.

What is also interesting to me is that Defoe's England (and Moll travels through a decent amount of it) seems to be almost oblivious to the War. Moll is worried about her own life, taking care of herself. Everybody around Moll seems just as insensible of, or de-sensitized to, the War going on around them. They're all just doing what they can to keep their own domestic lives in order.

The setting of America is also interesting in this sense. Moll goes to America twice. And both times, the feeling of America is almost like it's an extension, or, rather, an annexation, of England. Moll doesn't seem to feel too much of the inconvenience or hardship that a lot of people write about when they speak of the people who came to America. Rather, her drama, her struggles, are more related to the same things she had been dealing with in England.

I'm going to devote the rest of the post to a summary of the plot. The plot itself, very much like Malory's Arthur plot, is, really, the best thing about the book.

The story begins with Moll telling how, while her mother was pregnant with Moll, she got caught for stealing some skeins of fabric. In those days, in England, stealing was punishable by death. But since Moll's mother was pregnant with Moll, she wasn't sentenced to death. Instead, she was allowed to give birth to Moll. And after she gave birth to Moll, she was "transported," as a prisoner-slave, to America.

Moll is then put into the care of a woman who runs a school for little orphan girls. The woman is very kind. She teaches the kids a little, and puts them to work for her, doing little things to make money.

But Moll, as soon as she becomes old enough to reflect on her situation -- I think when she's around five years old or so -- knows that very soon she'll be put into a home for older girls. She'll be made, at best, into a domestic servant. She feels a terror at this prospect. She would rather do something to take care of herself -- work for her own money, and not be at anybody else's mercy.

But, telling the woman this, Moll says she wants to be a "gentlewoman," thinking being a gentlewoman means, not being a woman of a certain rank in society, but simply being a woman able to take care of herself. The woman, however, thinks the "gentlewoman" statement was incredibly cute. She tells some of the women she does work for, themselves gentlewomen, about this. The gentlewomen all think this is very cute as well, and they wish to see Moll.

Moll is a very pretty little girl. And she becomes something of a little showpiece, a cute, little entertainment, for these gentlewomen. It's like Moll is a toddler in tiaras. And these gentlewomen are all driven wild by her. Just as a side note, if there were any part in the book where I wished I could be Moll Flanders, it would be right here: to be an angelically pretty little girl with all these women in love with me. The only thing I'd ask for in addition would be the ability to wear modern disposable diapers all the time.

Moll manages, through the affection that the gentlewomen show her, to garner some of her own craft-business. She makes a decent amount of money by doing various tasks for the gentlewomen. She gives all this money to the woman taking care of her. Plus, she teaches the little kids how to do the tasks as well. Thus shifting for herself, she makes her situation so that she doesn't have to leave the woman's house after all.

However, when Moll is about fourteen years old, the woman dies. The woman's family disbands the school. The woman had saved all of Moll's money, for Moll to take when she moved out on her own. But the woman's family doesn't give Moll the money. And Moll is basically sent out onto the streets penniless.

But all the gentlewomen remember their affection for Moll. One of the gentlewomen invites Moll into her household. There, Moll becomes great friends with the two daughters of the house, and even begins to take part in all of their lessons. Moll is also reaching the age where she's beginning to turn men's heads. Some even say she's more attractive than the sisters.

However, the family also has two sons. And both sons fall in love with Moll. The older son falls in love with Moll first. He seduces her, and they carry on a sexual relationship for a little while.

But then the younger son, Robin, falls in love with Moll even harder. He insists upon marrying Moll. Moll doesn't want to marry Robin. She's reall in love with the older brother. And, she worries, if she doesn't marry the older brother, she'll be considered a whore, since she had sex with a man without marrying him. And she really doesn't want to be thought of as a whore.

But the older brother himself insists upon Moll marrying Robin. By this time, the gentlewomen and her daughters (who were probably themselves a bit in love with Moll), are very jealous of Moll. But the mother comes back around to loving Moll, and she lets Moll marry Robin.

Moll marries Robin and has a couple kids by him. But Robin dies. And when he dies, his family kicks Moll out of the house, without her kids. Moll is, fortunately, left with a bit of money from her husband.

So Moll goes off. She first spends a brief time partying with all kinds of guys. But she eventually settles on a husband. But the husband ends up getting himself in all kinds of debt. He even manages to use up all the money that Moll's first husband had left her. The husband verbally annuls the marriage -- freeing Moll of any obligation, at least morally -- and makes a run from the law.

But Moll herself is completely destitute. So she goes and lives at the Mint (a name for a poorhouse?). After a while, Moll gets out of the Mint with a female friend of hers. Moll helps the female friend catch a husband -- a captain who had actually tried to weasle his way out of a marriage to the woman, but whom Moll schemes back into marrying the woman. The woman is grateful and works to find Moll herself a husband.

Moll is then courted by a man who, it seems, is looking for a woman with a fortune. Moll eventually makes it plain that she doesn't have a fortune. But the man marries Moll, anyway. Moll is just too irresistible.

Moll's new husband actually has a mother in America. The husband wants to go back to America and work his mother's plantation. He feels like if he can do this, he can make enough money for a really good life for himself and Moll. Moll at first doesn't want to go to America. But she eventually goes.

But, in America, Moll finds that her new mother-in-law is actually -- her own mother! Her mother, after having given birth to Moll, and having been "transported" as a prisoner-slave to America, eventually worked her way to freedom and, I think, got enough land together to take care of herself and her son.

But what all of this means to Moll is that she's married her own brother! Not only has she married her own brother, but she's now pregnant with his child! Moll now thinks of herself as both a whore and a committer of incest. She never married her first lover. And now she's married her own brother!

Moll reveals to her husband that she is his sister. The husband attempts suicide. But he is stopped in time. He verbally, but, again, not legally, annuls his marriage to Moll and allows Moll to go back to England. He gives Moll a little bit of money to take care of herself. But he himself is, mentally, never quite the same.

Moll goes back to England without her son. And with all these unknown sons rambling around England and America, I kept expecting Moll eventually to have sex with one of her own sons. But she never does. Or, at least I never picked up on it.

Moll finds her way to the town of Bath. While at a lodging-house there, she meets another man. This man is married. But his wife is insane, a resident at a nearby mental asylum. The man has a house and business in London. But he lives here so that he can be close to his wife's mental asylum.

Eventually Moll and the man become good friends. The man gives Moll the "job" of seeing to some of his needs, such as cooking his food, and so forth. There is a definite sexual attraction between Moll and the man. But the man keeps from letting the situation get sexual.

But the man eventually gets terribly ill. Moll has to take care of him. She nurses the man back to health. He's terribly grateful to her. But now their love for each other is even stronger. The man plays a weird game with Moll where he proves he can resist temptation by sleeping in Moll's bed at night without touching her. He even ends up sleeping in bed with her while he's naked!

But eventually, one drunk night, Moll and the man let their guard slip. The two finally have sex. They carry on in this sexual relationship until Moll gets pregnant. Once Moll is pregnant, she is sent off to a nice place to live by herself with her child. The man only sees Moll occasionally. But he always sends money to take care of Moll and her child.

But, six years later, the man gets sick again. This time, all by himself, recovering, he renounces his relation with Moll. He gives Moll some money to go live by herself. And he takes Moll's children into his own house.

So now Moll is left all by herself again. By this time she's about forty years old. She goes back to London. She meets a woman from the "North country" who tells Moll that living in the North country is a lot cheaper. The woman apparently has family up in Lancashire. So Moll resolves to go up to Lancashire with this woman.

However, the woman is only after Moll's money. She knows that Moll has received a certain amount of money from the man at Bath. But she doesn't know how much. Because of this money, Moll has become the object of rumor. Soon, the amount of money Moll is rumored to have inflates to an absurd degree. And the woman thinks she is bound to get some of this rumoured money.

But Moll, unsure of what the North country will be like, decides to put her money in the bank for the time being, for safe keeping. But while at the bank, Moll catches the eye of a banker.

The banker is so smitten by Moll that, in the short time before Moll leaves for Lancashire, the banker proposes to Moll. The only problem is that the banker is married -- married to a whore, he says: a woman who, the banker has found, has run around on him with other men. The man, before he'd even seen Moll, was going to divorce this woman. But now he really wants to divorce her -- so he can marry Moll!

But Moll won't even entertain marriage to the banker until the man has obtained a divorce certificate. And so she goes up to Lancashire, promising to marry the banker as soon as he produces a divorce certificate.

In Lancashire, though, Moll meets another man: Jemmy. It turns out that the woman-friend of Moll's has schemed a way for Jemmy and Moll to get married. In this way, Jemmy can come in on Moll's fortune. Then the woman can get a slice of that money.

But it's eventually revealed that Moll doesn't have nearly the amount of money that the woman and Jemmy thought she had. The woman is kicked out of Lancashire by Jemmy and his cohorts. But Jemmy himself has actually fallen in love with Moll for real. And he feels terrible for having mislead Moll. He even tells Moll that, all along, his plan wasn't to steal from Moll. He was only planning to marry her, then use her money and take the both of them to Ireland, where he had a business plan whereby he could make enough money to start a comfortable family with Moll.

Jemmy is so guilty that he leaves Moll, freeing her from his marriage to him. But Moll is so in love that she wants Jemmy back. Jemmy is also so in love with Moll that he wants her back. So Jemmy comes back to Moll in Lancashire.

They go off to some other town to figure out what they're going to do with their lives. Moll tries over and over to convince Jemmy to go to America. She's certain that she and Jemmy could have a good fortune by raising a farm there. But Jemmy abhors the idea of going to America. He'd rather go to Ireland and work on his business scheme.

Eventually Moll lets Jemmy have his way. But she won't go to Ireland with Jemmy. She'll simply wait for Jemmy. Moll assumes, when Jemmy leaves, that she'll probably never see him again.

But it then turns out that Jemmy has gotten Moll pregnant. Moll, all by herself and pregnant, can absolutely not be seen out in the English society of that day. So she finds a governess who runs a house for single, pregnant women. Most of the women in this house are prostitutes who have gotten pregnant. Moll and the governess become really good friends.

But, just before Moll is about to deliver her child, she receives a letter from the banker. The banker has finally gotten a divorce from his wife. Plus, the banker's wife has committed suicide, being so ashamed of what she's done to the man. The banker is now very insistent upon marrying Moll.

Moll would like to marry the banker. But how can she? She's already married to Jemmy. And she's about to have Jemmy's child?

Moll discusses all of this with the governess. The governess tells Moll not to worry about Jemmy, since Jemmy wasn't a "real husband," anyway. As for the child, the governess, an expert in putting kids out of sight, tells Moll that she can find a home for the child. She assures Moll that she can find a home for the child, and that Moll will always be able to check in on the welfare of the child, without anybody knowing that the child is hers.

So Moll has and leaves her child and goes off to marry the banker. She's married to the banker for another five or so years. But the banker gets involved with a really terrible business deal and loses all of his money. The sudden loss of fortune puts the banker into such a state of depression that he actually withers away and dies. And Moll is left all on her own again -- but this time with two children she'd had with the banker.

Moll lives for about a year on the very small funds that the husband was able to leave her. As those funds run out, Moll, I believe, manages to find a way for her children to live with some other people. But Moll herself is in a lot of trouble. She believes herself really past the age of childbirth -- she's in her fifties by now, I think. And she, therefore, also sees herself as being past the age of marriage.

After a brief period of excruciating poverty, Moll is finally driven to thievery. She first steals a bundle of goods that is left unattended.

Moll's first theft involves a pretty, little girl who has just finished up with her dancing class. The little girl is drawn to Moll, and allows Moll to lead her into a side street. In a scene with undertones of the opening scene of Brian De Palma's Femme Fatale, Moll manages to mesmerize the little girl so much that when Moll takes a gold necklace off the girl's neck, the girl doesn't even notice.

Moll then manages to be nearby when two male thieves are running off with some skeins of expensive fabric. They drop some skeins near Moll in their panic to get away from a crowd. Once the crowd gets away, Moll takes the skeins of fabric for herself.

Moll now has a lot of stuff. But she needs to sell it. She doesn't know how she can do so safely. In order to get some sort of advice, she writes to the governess of the house where she'd stayed while she was pregnant with Jemmy's baby.

It turns out that the governess had to shut down her house for pregnant women, after one of the women sued her for some reason or another. Now the governess runs a pawn shop, which is basically where thieves in the town bring stuff that they've stolen from around town.

The governess takes Moll's stuff. But she also loves Moll very much. Moll and the governess are still very good friends. And so the governess allows Moll to stay at her house and work for her.

Moll figures she is finished with her life of stealing. She takes up some small-time crafts work: the kind we could easily imagine her having done when she was a little girl. But this is barely paying for her food. Moll is desparate for some way to make sufficient money.

Then, one day, while Moll is in a public house, a boy forgets that he's already brought Moll a tankard of ale. He brings Moll a second tankard, forgetting the first. Moll steals the first tankard. She brings it to the governess. The tankard is silver -- it can bring Moll a good amount of money.

The governess tells Moll she'd actually be a pretty good thief. Moll is at first shocked by this proposition. But the governess insists. She even connects Moll with a woman who serves as Moll's "schoolmistress" for thievery.

Moll is generally taught how to pick pockets and perform petty thefts from stores. But, after an unlucky theft, Moll's teacher is picked up and thrown in prison. She's later hanged for theft.

Moll regrets her teacher's death, and she resolves never to steal again. But the governess tells Moll to keep stealing. So Moll does. Moll manages to go out during a great fire in town. During the fire, people are packing up whatever goods they can move out of their houses and running out of their houses. Other people are helping these people.

But in the midst of this panic, Moll rushes into a house and grabs a sack of somebody's possessions. She then acts like she's running the possessions to whatever house the person is taking refuge in. But she skips out of the line of running people and runs back to the governess' house. This haul again brings Moll in a decent amount of money.

Moll does a little more thieving by herself. But the governess then again tries to set Moll up with another female partner-thief. Moll's partner again gets caught in the act, is taken to prison, and is hanged for theft.

The governess again tries to get Moll hooked up with a partner. This time the partner is a man. But Moll, in order to work with this partner, has, for reasons I can't remember, also to dress as a man. Moll calls herself, in this guise, "Gabriel Spencer." The man and Moll share quarters and even sleep in the same bed.

Two men in bed. And one is a woman. I thought there might have been some enjoyable sex scene here. But there wasn't. Oh, well.

And, personally, I think that these attempts of the governess are attempts to "match-make," sexually, for Moll. I think the female partners are supposed to be female love-partners for Moll. But Moll doesn't take to them. So the governess tries to attach Moll to a man as a love-partner. But the governess can only think in terms, it seems, of homoeroticism. So, in order to "match-make" with a man, the governess must think of Moll as a man.

By this time, Moll has lived with the governess for a few years. And I think of the governess and Moll almost as two wives themselves. But the governess is also a mother-figure for Moll.

Anyhow, not longer after this partnership starts up, Moll's male partner gets himself caught for theft. He tries to implicate Moll, as Gabriel Spencer, in the theft. But nobody can find this man Gabriel Spencer. So Moll is free. The man goes to prison, then is hung for theft.

Later on, Moll tries again to steal a sack of goods during a housefire. But as she's rushing up toward the house, somebody throws a bed mattress out the window. Moll is flattened. But she's not majorly hurt.

After this, Moll meets a drunken gentleman who takes a drunken liking to her. Moll seduces the man and gets the man even more drunk than he already is. Later, when the man passes out in the carriage, Moll steals everything of value off the man. This stuff, altogether, is, again, worth quite a bit to Moll.

But the governess, hearing Moll's story, has an idea of who this man is. In order to secure Moll's freedom from legal injury, the governess goes and meets with the man.

The man is actually very kind. He's married, and he's never had an affair on his wife before the night with Moll. But Moll was just too irresistible, even in her mid-fifties. The man had to be with her.

The man, it turns out, feels like he got what he deserved, having let his guard down by getting as drunk as he got. He has no desire, as well, to make the case public by making charges against Moll as a thief. In fact, he likes Moll very much. He would like to meet her again.

The governess, in hopes of something nice happening for Moll, arranges a meeting between Moll and the man. Moll and the man have an affair for a little while, and the man does give Moll some money. But the man eventually loses interest.

So Moll goes back to a life of thieving. But one day, while out, in the guise of a widow, looking for some opportunity for stealing, she's mistaken for another thief who, in the guise of a widow, had stolen from a store.

Moll, as well as a lot of the crowd who had seen the actual thief, insists that she was not the thief. But the shop-owner won't listen. He insists the constable take her to jail. But then the real thief is found.

With the help of the governess, who finds Moll a good lawyer, Moll sues the shop-owner for wrongfully accusing Moll of theft. This brings Moll in a bit of money.

Moll then decides to go out for theft in the guise of a beggar-woman. In this guise she steals a horse. But Moll finds that, as a beggar-woman, she's a target for other people, like sadistic murderers. So she ditches the beggar-woman guise.

During the procession of the Queen one day, Moll steals some goods that a woman has left by the way so that she could press into the crowd and get a better look at the Queen. On the same day, Moll goes to Covent Gardens and gambles, at the behest of a man at the table who likes Moll, using the man's money. Moll makes a decent amount of money, and the man gives Moll a good amount of it. But Moll decides never to do any gambling again.

Next, I believe, Moll has been implicated in some crime involving another woman. In order to get out of the public view, Moll goes on a trip. While on her trip, she goes to Colchester, where she'd grown up, and where she'd married her first husband. She finds out that the older brother, Moll's first real love, has died.

Moll comes back down to town. On Christmas Day, she goes out again to steal. She goes into a silver shop, the owner of which has, unbelievably, left unattended, with a bunch of silver just laying out. But just as Moll is about to steal the unattended silver, a man from across the street runs into the store.

Moll is composed enough to play convincingly like she had only been in the store to buy something. But she has to buy six silver spoons in order to prove that she really had been in the store for legitimate reasons.

Moll seems to be addicted -- she has no sense of when it's time to quit. She goes straight from almost getting caught -- to another place, where she tries again to steal. But this time she's caught outright.

Moll is sent to Newgate prison -- the same prison she was born in. At Newgate, Moll sees Jemmy, who's also been caught in an act of theft.

The governess gets Moll as much help as she can. But it's no use. Moll was reall caught outright in her theft. She's convicted of theft, and sentenced to death by hanging.

The governess is so distraught by Moll's plight that she falls into a terrible depression and becomes so ill that she almost dies. Even once she's well, she spends the rest of her days in penance for the life she's lead.

But, in the midst of her search for penance, the governess has also met a really kind minister. The governess sends the minister to comfort Moll. But when the minister meets Moll, he likes her so much that he decides he's going to try to save her.

The minister actually does manage to save Moll. However, instead of Moll being let free, she is sentenced to be "transported" to America, to work on the plantations as a prisoner-slave. This is fine enough for Moll, who, it seems, has wanted to go back to America for a long time.

Moll also manages to scheme her way into meeting with her husband, Jemmy. Jemmy, it turns out, wasn't caught in the thick of the theft he'd been brought in for. Jemmy's partners were sentenced to death. But Jemmy himself was given a choice -- I think -- between death by hanging and transportation to America. Even in America, though, Jemmy wouldn't have to be a prisoner-slave. He just had to stay in America.

But Jemmy dislikes so much the thought of going to America that he's seriously thinking of taking death by hanging as an option! Moll has to convince Jemmy to come to America with him. And she eventually manages it so that she and Jemmy head to America on the same ship together.

The governess makes sure that Moll and Jemmy are well cared for on their journey to America. Transported prisoners get to take their money and possessions with them, to make a start in America. And Jemmy and Moll have enough money to get a good start in life in America -- once Moll buys back her freedom from prisoner-slavery.

Moll and Jemmy get to America, and, through the kindness of the ship's captain, find a person to buy Moll and sell her back to herself. Moll and Jemmy are now ready to start their new life.

Moll discovers that her mother has died and has left her some land. So she goes to find out to figure how she can claim this land.

Moll meets the son she'd had by her brother. The son is incredibly nice and incredibly happy to see his mother -- who, for all these years, he thought was dead. It turns out that Moll's brother-husband was so affected by his act of incest that he basically went insane, and, nowadays, couldn't even recognize anybody.

Moll gets her mother's land, as well as a huge lavishment of gifts and love from her son. She is sent back to Jemmy. The next year, Moll's brother-husband dies, and Moll forms an even stronger relationship with her son.

Moll and Jemmy work hard out in America and make a really good amount of money. Finally, Moll and Jemmy decide to move back to England with the money they've made. Apparently it's now okay for Jemmy to come back to England. And Moll and Jemmy live happily -- and in penance for their sinful lives -- ever after.