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The Fate Of The Indirect Feminist: Susanna Rowson's "Charlotte Temple"

1492 words - 6 pages

The character of Charlotte, in the book by Susanna Rowson's "Charlotte Temple", is seemingly naïve and in need of direction and protection from the world she lives in. She suffers a tragic fate for following a misguided path lead by Mademoiselle La Rue, her teacher whom Charlotte trusts. Mademoiselle La Rue is characterized as a woman who deliberately sends this young naïve girl into the arms of a man without thought or principal of the outcomes that lead to such dangers during this time period. Possibly Charlotte, who was raised in a Christian home, should have already known what is right and what is wrong; Mademoiselle La Rue would have only been an accomplice to helping Charlotte acquire what she already wanted which was to obtain her love interest Montraville. Aside from all the main characters' motivations that were either right or wrong in the eyes of society, Charlotte's fate was destined to happen because of her own careless mistakes caused by not trusting in her family and the lack of experience she had dealing with men and not by the fact that Mademoiselle La Rue misguided her intentionally.If feminism, in part, is described as a female taking an initiative in her life and promoting self-interest, then Charlotte certainly warranted this in her own life. Perhaps the concept of being a feminist concerning Charlotte's character wasn't in the mind of the readership but unquestionably she challenges that notion. (Yarbrough 1-3) For example, at the end of chapter one when Montraville slips a note into Charlotte's hand, she accepts it. This acceptance notes that if Charlotte was uncomfortable with Montraville at all she would have not accepted the note at all. She would have torn it or disposed of it in some way. No amount of encouragement from Mademoiselle La Rue would have prompted her to acknowledge Montraville if there wasn't an interest in her about him to begin with (Rowson 11).After the next chapter, the reader learns about perhaps the way Charlotte may have been raised. Mr. Temple saw what happens to people in his own family that marry for other reasons other than for love. This could have helped Charlotte emulate that same thinking in her that sparked in her father years prior. This attempt to follow one's own path over society's tradition in some way may have generated an independent spirit in Charlotte to seek marriage for love's sake and not for anything else. As her father said, "I will not seek Content; and, if I find her in a cottage, will embrace her with as much cordiality as I should if seated on a throne." This of all speaks to why possibly Charlotte believed love was possible. If her father voiced this than she may have felt that some or all men thought the same (12).By Chapter four, Charlotte is too busy thinking about what is in the note Montraville gave instead of enjoying an evening with Mademoiselle La Rue and company. Mademoiselle La Rue raved about this company before they got there. If Charlotte was a...

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