"Charlotte Temple" By Susanna Rowson Essay

1267 words - 5 pages

In Charlotte Temple, Susanna Rowson embarked on a mission to teach a lesson to young girls living in an era long ago forgotten. A lesson about love, propriety, and how easily a girl can fall from grace. Although we live in a completely different society today, her principles are sound, and the situations she gives warning of are, to an extent, still the same 200 years later. Several times Rowson directed a few words at the readers, entreating them to take her words to heart, and let them serve as a lesson so they may avoid making the same mistakes.We are given one impression upon reading this book. That is, if we should receive no other insight, at least we should come away realizing what is the proper basis for a relationship. At the end of chapter six, Rowson cautioned her audience, the young ladies she specifically wrote to, telling them "listen not to the voice of love, unless sanctioned by paternal approbation: be assured, it is now past the days of romance: no woman can be run away with contrary to her own inclination: then kneel down each morning, and request kind heaven to keep you free from temptation...when it runs counter to the precepts of religion and virtue." (Rowson, 29) Clearly then, we see that for Susanna Rowson, and also, we assume, the most proper society ladies, the only proper relationship would be one approved by one's parents. Secret rendezvous, love letters, and passionate elopements lead nowhere but downfall and disgrace.Susanna also makes sure that her readers understand that Charlotte did not become a shamed woman in a moment of conscious decision. The process was slow, Charlotte was forever excusing her actions, rationalizing, making herself believe that what she was doing was justified. "I must not be ungrateful," said Charlotte to herself. "La Rue is very kind to me; besides I can, when I see Montraville, inform him of the impropriety of our continuing to see or correspond with each other, and request him to come no more to Chichester." (Rowson, 37) No matter what she told herself her intentions were going to be, no matter how hard she tried to convince herself that her motives were pure, Charlotte should not have allowed herself to be pulled down. Rowson emphasized that Charlotte may have been telling herself one thing, but her actions spoke otherwise. She read the letter repeatedly, and kept checking the time until the next meeting, all of which served only to plant deeper into her heart her wrongdoings.Susanna Rowson also warned young ladies that appearances could be deceiving, both in companions and friends, and also in love interests. Although La Rue seemed to be a good friend to Charlotte, she clearly helped to bring her down: "when once a woman has stifled the sense of shame in her own bosom, when once she has lost sight of the basis on which reputation, honour, everything that should be dear to the female heart, rests, she grows hardened in guilt, and will spare no pains to bring down innocence and beauty to...

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