The Coquette Analysis

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When reading the Coquette by Hannah Webster Foster, you are reading the life of Eliza Wharton the young daughter of a clergyman who was widowed after her betrothed, another clergyman whom she was nursing, dies. She is then being courted by two men Rev. J. Boyer yet another clergy man and Major Peter Stanford an aristocratic libertine, they both vie for her attention. Yet it is no secret that she prefers Stanford for he symbolizes everything she wants freedom, and a carefree spirit. Thus begins the decisions that lead us to the how we feel about Eliza Wharton. We either feel sad for Eliza or we want to judge her for all the things she does, because to most her choices are the mistakes that ruin her life. To begin Foster’s take on her Epistolary …show more content…
Eliza and her thoughts were projected to us and we felt the sorrow she felt when dealing with the men in her life and the friendships she inevitably had trouble with because of that. We have a letter that is addressed to her mother where she apologizes profusely for everything that happened and asking for her forgiveness letting her know she is going to leave, “In this life I have no ideas of happiness”, (1462) she does not feel happy and knows she brought sorrow for many others involved as well. Although Major Stanford did not intend to lead her on she did not know better, and even then when her friends expressed their disapproval of her relationship with him, she felt happy being with him and any attention she could have of him was enough, or so she, said for her. For her article Jennifer Harris also states. “This, I would argue, was Foster’s purpose: to script a fictive repentance for Wharton that would allow for a retroactive recuperation of Whitman, in the processes ‘decriminalizing’’ the latter by insisting on her — albeit imperfect — allegiance to female virtue.” (366), meaning Foster was trying to show us the vulnerable and carefree Eliza to help us see that everyone makes their mistakes and everyone has regrets, it is not up to us to accuse her of anything. Reading the novel as letters allows us to see in the minds of these characters and helps us connect more to Eliza, helping us see what is going on thru her head and has us asking the question, after everything she has been through, If we were in her shoes what would we have

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