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The Fortunes and Misfortunes of Moll Flanders (TV Movie 1996) - Plot Summary Poster

Plot Summary

  • In her filthy cell in Newgate prison Moll Flanders, dubbed 'the wickedest woman in England' tells her story. Born in the gaol, after her mother is transported Moll is raised by the kindly mayor of Colchester and his wife, whose two sons lust after her. She enjoys sex with handsome Rowland, who teaches her that money talks, but, realizing he only wants her as a mistress, she marries his duller brother Robin, who conveniently dies after five years, leaving her wealthy. She goes to London, briefly meeting highwayman Jemmy Seagrove, and marries parvenu draper Daniel Dawkins, but he has huge debts and must flee to France, leaving Moll alone and poor. Moll meets handsome young American sea captain Lemuel Golightly, who marries her and takes her to Virginia and a good life style, along with his mother. They have two children and are blissfully happy until Moll discovers her mother-in-law is also her birth mother. She has married her own brother. She returns to England and poses as wealthy widow Lady Flanders, being proposed to by James Seagrove, who has land in Ireland. Jemmy Seagrove turns out to be a penniless fortune-seeker like Moll but there is love on both sides. He leaves her to resume life as a highwayman but says he will return for her. On a coach to London - which Jemmy robs but secretly gives Moll the other victims' goods - she meets protective banker Mr. Bland, who becomes her next spouse but dies of shock when he learns he has been financially ruined. Moll is left poor and alone again and resorts to crime. Moll moves in with landlady Mrs. Riordan, a robbers' fence, along with fellow thief Jenny Diver, whom she initially meets after stealing the loot Jenny has hidden. The two women steal - and sometimes sleep - together but Jenny is caught and hanged. Moll is depressed and even seems remorseful after stooping to rob a little girl. She takes to rolling rich drunken lechers at the theatre, including Sir Richard Godfrey, who is much taken by her, but she is caught and sentenced to the gallows. In Newgate she sees Jemmy, who has also been captured and whose fate is transportation. Moll prepares to meet her death but Jemmy arrives at the gallows, having 'persuaded' Sir Richard to commute her sentence to transportation. They sail to America together, to see her relatives again.

    - Written by don @ minifie-1

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