Born in Newgate prison and abandoned six months later, Moll's drive to find and hold on to a secure place in society propels her through incest, adultery, bigamy, prostitution and a resourceful career as a thief ('the greatest Artist of my time') before she is apprehended and returned to Newgate. If Moll Flanders is on one level a Puritan's tale of sin and repentance, through self-made, self-reliant Moll its rich subtext conveys all the paradoxes and amoralities of the struggle for property and power in Defoe's newly individualistic society.
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