from Charlotte Temple
Susanna Rowson does a great job of depicting the innocence and ignorance of a young woman in Charlotte Temple. Although, she does a greater job of showing the tactics people will use to achieve what they have set their mind to. The title of this work leads you to believe it will be about a character named Charlotte. While it is about her, I understand the story to be more about two other characters, Montreville, a lieutenant in the army, and Mademoiselle LaRue, a teacher at the school Charlotte attends. Though Charlotte maintains a strong role throughout the work, Rowson states in her preface, "
but conscious that I wrote with a mind anxious for the happiness of that sex whose morals and conduct have so powerful an influence on mankind in general
" (Rowson 1362). With this statement Rowson, I believe, is implying that she will venture to disclose the extent people will go to in order to gain what they desire. Montreville and Mademoiselle LaRue, time and time again during the novel, are doing all they can to manipulate Charlotte into doing what they want of her. This is why I believe Charlotte not to be the main character of this story, but simply a "puppet".
Montreville in chapter one states, "I never think of the future
but am determined to make the most of the present
" (Rowson 1363). This comment made by Montreville shows he doesn't care who he may hurt or what the consequences of his actions may bring. What's best for him is all he is thinking of. He is first able to see Charlotte when she and Mademoiselle are walking in the field. There he slips a note into her hand, and money into Mademoiselles hand bribing her to bring Charlotte out again the next night. Mademoiselle LaRue is supposed to be a guide to Charlotte, so by accepting this payment and bringing her out the following night she shows her willingness to do things she knows to be wrong as long as she is getting something in return. Mademoiselle knows she has power over...
Cited: Parker, Patricia L. "Charlotte Temple by Susanna Rowson. The English Journal 65.1
(1976):pp 59-60. 27 Sept. 2007
Rowson, Susanna H. "Charlotte Temple." (1791). The Heath Anthology of American
Literature. Ed. Paul Lauter. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Custom Publishing, 2006. 1361-1373.
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