The daughter of a thief, young Moll is placed in the care of a nunnery after the execution of her mother. However, the actions of an abusive priest lead Moll to rebel as a teenager, escaping to the dangerous streets of London. Further misfortunes drive her to accept a job as a prostitute from the conniving Mrs. Allworthy. It is there that Moll first meets Hibble, who is working as Allworthy's servant but takes a special interest in the young woman's well-being. With his help, she retains hope for the future, ultimately falling in love with an unconventional artist who promises the possibility of romantic happiness.
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