James Dalton’s Wig Box
James Dalton’s suitcase is featured on top of Moll’s bed. James Dalton was the leader of a notorious street robbery gang during the 18th century in London, England (Cruickshank 15).
This man bursting into the room with his finger on his lips is Sir Johnson Gonson (Bindman 74). He was a British judge for almost fifty years. Gonson was known for being enthusiastic when it came to raiding brothels and putting prostitutes into jail (Timbs 26).
Prostitution As Occult Practice
In Plate 3, even though there is no “single discourse of prostitution,” (Erwin 678) Moll’s use of props - the bundle of birch sticks, the masquerade mask, the witch’s hat - add occult elements to the already deviant profession (Momberger 50). Hogarth is able to “question the orthodox interpretation of Scripture” by depicting supernatural features that make Moll’s world not only criminal, but heretical ” (Erwin 680).
Deceit and Dishonesty
Plate 3’s depiction of Moll’s societal shift back to being a prostitute is reasoned through her patron “discover[ing] her duplicity,” (Momberger, 50). The body language of the men in Plate 3 suggests innocence and obliviousness, especially the man with his finger on his chin. This juxtaposition with Moll and a fellow prostitution at the foreground of the painting illustrates the concepts of deceit and dishonesty as traits of women.
The cat’s behaviour mirrors that of an animal in heat suggesting Moll’s behaviour is similar to an animal giving in to instinct rather than acting based on moral decisions. The cat’s suggestive position refers to Moll’s new profession as a common prostitute (Vocelle).
Abraham Biblical Painting
The painting of Abraham and Isaac tells the story of the angel preventing Abraham from sacrificing his son (Ruden 107). This bible story raises an important question: Is anyone going to save Moll? Or has she not fulfilled her duties to God as Abraham has?
Moll has gone from kept woman to common prostitute. Her maid is now old and syphilitic, and Henry Fielding, in Tom Jones (2:3), would say that the maid looks like his character of Mrs. Partridge. Her bed is her only major piece of furniture, and the cat poses to suggest Moll's new posture. The witch hat and birch rods on the wall suggest either black magic, or more importantly that prostitution is the devil's work. Her heroes are on the wall: Macheath from The Beggar's Opera and Henry Sacheverell, and two cures for syphilis are above them. The wig box of highwayman James Dalton (hanged on 11 May 1730) is stored over her bed, suggesting a romantic dalliance with the criminal. The magistrate, Sir John Gonson, with three armed bailiffs, is coming through the door on the right side of the frame to arrest Moll for her activities. Moll is showing off a new watch (perhaps a present from Dalton, perhaps stolen from another lover) and exposing her left breast. Gonson, however, is fixed upon the witch's hat and 'broom' or the periwig hanging from the wall above Moll's bed.The composition satirically resembles that of an Annunciation, i.e. the announcement by the angel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary that she would conceive and become the mother of Jesus, the Son of God, as recorded in the Gospel of Luke 1:26–39 (Source: Wikipedia).