A Masquerade Mask
A mask from a masquerade sits on Moll’s table. Masquerades were often seen as events of foreign depravity. English masquerades were described as an “exceedingly impure” (Castle 12), version of the original Continental masques. They were lascivious parties attended by members from every social class from kings to prostitutes, and often looked down upon by respectable society. The mask signifies Moll leading a promiscuous and lavish lifestyle as a kept woman, while she as a lower-class woman is living with a Jewish high-class merchant.
Although pets were kept for companionship and entertainment, their care was often deplorable. During the eighteenth century, animals were expected to fully submit to their human masters or be beaten. For the middle and upper classes of England, “pet keeping had been fashionable among the well-to-do” (Thomas 110). Exotic animals in particular served as “prized possessions and an appropriate gift for one ruler to bestow on another” (Thomas 277). An exotic pet such as the monkey nods to the wealth of Moll’s lover, and serves as an expensive object for Moll’s entertainment.
Portrait of Thomas Woolston
The portrait of Woolston (1668-1733) was modeled after one engraved by Gerard Vandergucht, a friend of Hogarth's (Paulson 78). Woolston is well known for his comedic approach to demistify Christian discourses which led to his imprisonment for blasphemous libel (78).
Portrait of Samuel Clarke
The second portrait is of Samuel Clarke (1675-1729), the author of The Scripture Doctrine of the Trinity (1712) who was known for deconstructing orthodox Trinitarianism (Paulson 80). Clarke was one of many who supported Woolston in prison and attempted for his release before his own death, May 1729 (80).
Jonah Biblical Paintings
This biblical painting of “Jonah Outside Nineveh” depicts Jonah begging for social reform from the sinful people of Nineveh. The inclusion of this painting acts as a warning to Moll to also reform her socially sinful ways (Shesgreen 19).
David Biblical Painting
The painting of “David Dancing Before the Ark While Uzzah is Knifed in the Back” from the Old Testament is an illustration of Uzzah being killed for sacrilegious acts and David, a man who “rebuked by his wife for his indecency.” The painting mirrors the adulterous acts transpiring in Plate 2 and foreshadows Moll’s death (Shesgreen 19).
Emergence of Class
Plate 2’s illustration of an upper class male merchant, assuming the role of a master with Moll, as his upper class mistress is a reversal of class for her. The exploitation of class is also evident with the "exotic black child servant" (Momberger 49) of an inferior social and racial class of the time, serving Moll's every need in an ironic twist of emergence from a modest young lady to a lady of high-class ethos.
The Servant Boy
The servant boy in Plate 2 acts as a symbol of “vanity, tyranny and sexual deviance” (Molineaux 505). By seeing Moll’s secret lover leaving, the servant is “aware of the sexual liaisons he witnesses” (506). He becomes an onlooker and a “figure produced by his corrupted environment” because his “presence reflects and participates in the vice of the boudoir” (506).
Moll is now the mistress of a wealthy Jewish merchant, as is confirmed by the Old Testament paintings in the background which have been considered to be prophetic of how the merchant will treat Moll in between this plate and the third plate. She has numerous affectations of dress and accompaniment, as she keeps a West Indian serving boy and a monkey. The boy and the young female servant, as well as the monkey, may be provided by the businessman. She has jars of cosmetics, a mask from masquerades, and her apartment is decorated with paintings illustrating her sexually promiscuous and morally precarious state. She pushes over a table to distract the merchant's attention as a second lover tiptoes out (Source: Wikipedia).