The general reason I think Charlotte Temple stayed on the best seller list for so many years is because the subjects that were discussed in the book were taboo in that day and time. Montraville was a soldier in the army who was about twenty three years old, and Charlotte was only fifteen. He was much older than Charlotte. Montraville influenced her in evil ways; he impressed her with his knowledge of love and the world by writing her a letter and giving it to her personally . Montraville knew this was forbidden but gave it to her anyway.
“ Tis a romantic attempt,” said he,”and should I even succeed in seeing and conversing with her, it can be productive of no good: I must of necessity leave England in a few days and probably may never return; why then should I endeavor to engage the affections of this lovely girl, to leave her prey to a thousand inquietudes, of which at present she has no idea? I will return to Portsmouth and think no more about her”( Rowson 11 ).
Montraville went against his judgment. He knew that her parents would be angry if they knew that their daughter was having a relationship with a man! He was supposed to be a responsible soldier: an honorable man that would not do this kind of thing! But he would continue to see her. He even paid her guardian so she would keep bringing her to see him.
“ He soon pund means to ingratiate himself with her companion, who was a French teacher at the school, and, at parting, slipped a letter he had written into Charlotte’s hand, and five guineas into that of Mademoiselle, who promised she would endeavor to bring her young charge into the field again the next evening” (Rowson 11).
Montraville was influenced himself by Belcore who was evil. When Montraville and Charlotte would meet, he would bring Belcore along to entertain Charlotte’s guardian, La Rue.
“...he had wisely brought Belcore with him to entertain Mademoiselle while he could have an uninterrupted conversation with Charlotte. ... Belcore... possessed a genteel fortune and had a liberal education; Dissipated, thoughtless, and capricious, he paid little regard to the moral duties, and less to religious ones: eager in the pursuit of pleasure, he minded not the miseries he inflicted on others, provided his own wishes, however extravagant, were gratified. Self, darling self, was the idol he worshipped, and that he would have sacrificed the interest and happiness of all mankind. Montraville ... generous in his disposition, liberal in his opinions, and good-natured almost to a fault; yet eager and impetuous in the pursuit of a favorite object, he staid not to reflect on the consequences which might fallow the attainment of his wishes; with a mind ever open to conviction, had been fortunate as to possess a friend who would have pointed out the cruelty of endeavoring to gain the heart of a innocent artless girl, when he knew it was utterly impossible for him to marry her,... Belcore was not this friend; he rather encouraged the growing passion of Montraville;...” (Rowson37-38).
La Rue, posing as a friend, was the cause of Charlotte’s destruction. La Rue, like Belcore, was only looking out for herself. She did not care if Charlotte was going to be hurt from this relationship; she did not care if it was dangerous for Charlotte. If La Rue had been responsible she would have never allowed Charlotte to talk to this man in the first place. Therefore they would have never had a relationship. La Rue had beauty, but no goodness in her heart .
“The lovely maid whose form and face Nature has deck’d with ev’ry grace, But in whose breast no virtues glow,
Whose hand ne’er felt another’s woe,
Whose hand ne’er smooth’d the bed of pain,