Sunday, July 3, 2016

Onward and downward

At the end of Part 1, Moll actually steals for the first time.

Widowed and alone, watching her limited savings quickly dwindle, she is in deadly fear of poverty.

Prompted, as she says, by the devil, she steals a small, unattended bag in the street, and this puts her in terror of being caught next time and tried for her life.

But there is a next time, all the same.

For her second theft she steals a gold necklace from an unattended child whom she is tempted to kill, but does not.

So ends Part 1.

At the beginning of Part 2, Moll is past 50.

At no time in her adult life has she so far even considered working, and now she rejects again the street and the house of ill fame, this time because she is too old for the job, and rejects work as a seamstress in favor of the life of a full time petty thief.

Having rejected domestic service as a child, she has never again given it a thought.

Her quondam midwife/abortionist is now a pawnbroker and fence, and Moll moves into her house to live there with many others, all thieves of one sort or another.

The fence provides a trainer who schools her in shoplifting and picking pockets.

During the narrative Moll repeatedly says she might have earned a good living as a seamstress but prefers crime.

She does well and, given the penalty if she is caught would likely be hanging or, at best, transportation for life, she thinks she will quit when she has saved enough to retire and live an easy life the rest of her days, about 500 pounds.

But she reaches and passes that and keeps on, becoming famous in the London underworld under the assumed name of "Moll Flanders," like a gambler unable to quit while ahead, though many acquaintances and partners in crime are caught and hanged, and though they are unable to save themselves by ratting her out only because they don't know her real name and have no idea where she lives or what haunts she frequents.

She keeps on.

Reading Moll Flanders.

No comments:

Post a Comment