Moll Flanders is no stranger to getting married. She marries and re-marries many times throughout the course of the novel. Her most recent husband after moving to London, who is not mentioned by name, seems to be the closest Moll came to having an attachment to. “… I had the prospect of a very happy Life, if I knew how to manage it…” (148). Moll also seems to respect her husband more than any other she had previously “I Liv’d with this Husband in the utmost Tranquility; he was a Quiet, Sensible, Sober Man, Virtuous, Modest, Sincere, and in his Business Diligent and Just…” (149).
Moll remains married to this man for some time, and has two children by him. She describes that this would be the only children she would bear with him as she was approaching infertility, stating “…it began to be time for me to leave bearing Children, for I was now Eight and Forty…” (150).
Moll enjoys the wealth this husband can provide to her until his clerk loses a large sum of their personal fortunes, leaving them with almost nothing. This sudden shock of being poor gives Moll’s husband a heart attack, killing him. Soon after, Moll finds herself poor and alone. She admits that “[her] case is deplorable…” (150). Soon after, she begins to lose her sanity. Moll externalizes her sins to attributes them to the devil. She then begins to self-censor herself as she has a mental breakdown. Is this a sign of Moll’s weakness. It seems that she finally allowed herself to truly love a man to the point where she loses her sanity as she loses him. This is a claim that Moll’s other husbands could make. No other husband affects Moll’s sense of being as does this one.
Another possible theory that I find more likely is that Moll, who became used to being wealthy, suddenly finds herself with nothing much like her situation as a child: poor and alone. This sudden desperation damages what is left of Moll’s sanity, driving her to such rash actions as to steal from a helpless child in an act of self-preservation. Defoe uses this decent from rich and happy to poor and desolate to illustrate how fluid the social structure in eighteenth century London was. Moll, who rose to the highest social standing with her husband, suddenly finds herself among the lowest rungs of society in a matter of days after her husband’s death. Though Moll will likely recover from her latest predicament, it seems that the death of this latest husband will have a lasting imprint on her sanity and morality.