Monday, December 15, 2008

A Harlot's Progress: Plate 5

Can't you just hear the commotion through the thin tenement walls? In Hogarth's next print in the series we find out heroine, Moll is out of prison but in a setting that is not much improved. Moll barely has a breath left in her, she is deathly ill. She slumps in her chair, half unconscious, wrapped in white linen like a specter. While she breathes her last, two notable doctors fight over her cure, too distracted by their own egos to notice their patient. The rotund, German doctor, Richard Rock argues that they should bleed her while the skinny French doctor, Jean Misaubin shouts that cupping is the way to go. Amongst the French and German accents is Moll's maid's vulgar tongue, screaming for them to pay attention to her mistress who lays limp in her arms.

Among the dissaray are two figure who seem to not be bothered by the commotion. One is the nurse or landlady who scours through what is left of Moll's possessions, looking for something worth stealing. Judging by the hovel Moll now calls home, it is unlikely that she will find anything worthwhile. A little boy is roasting a piece of meat on a string while he itches the lice in his hair. This is Moll's son. The result of a night's work.

Once again we are reminded of the former splendor of Moll's life. The fine apartment once procured to her by her Jewish lover is now a distant memory. Instead, her former lover has now given her enough money for this one, as indicated by the passover bread. Many old flames took pity on their former mistresses, like Grace Elliot, when they reached the end of their rope. But obviously, Moll is not being taken care of enough; whether it is by past lovers or current doctors. Will she be able to survive this mishap as she has the others we have seen her survive?

A Harlot's Progress Plate 1
A Harlot's Progress Plate 2
A Harlot's Progress Plate 3
A Harlot's Progress Plate 4
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  1. I never noticed the passover bread before. Thank you for the wonderful post.

  2. I always look forward to these. I adore Hogarth and I adore your commentaries.