Charlotte represents an average girl and how society was building them to be, very insecure and weak; not prepared for the real life and the dangers lurking beneath those pleasures. Therefore, it is very easy to bamboozle and seduce these young ladies. The term “seducing” in this content is defined as tempting not necessarily used in a sexual manner but more of a convincing strategy used to do something they would not do on their own. When Mademoiselle La Rue asked Charlotte to go with her to a summerhouse belonging to a gentlemen she met at church, who had asked her to bring some of the ladies with her, “she mentioned the gentlemen as a relation, and spoke in such high terms of the elegance of his gardens, the sprightliness of his conversations, and the liberality with which he ever entertained his guest, that Charlotte thought only of the pleasure she would enjoy in this visit” (pg.58). Charlotte was not a girl of bad intentions. As a matter of fact, most of the time she even regretted going because she was astonished at the freedom Mademoiselle La Rue had allowed them to have and how free the conversation was. In return, this all made her feel uneasy, guilty, thoughtful, and wishing she was back at the safety of her chamber. In this story seduction plays a huge role, the thought of fitting into society’s expectations and achieving your role as a house wife was all that matter to these young ladies; which made it very easy to convince them that a certain path is the correct without having to provide many explanations. For many however, the reality was that, “In affairs of love a young heart is never in more danger than when attempted by a handsome young soldier” (pg. 59). A soldier with many empty promises, a man that is dressed nicely and says a couple of good words to her to make her feel she is in love and believe he is all she needs. He would make her believe in abandoning everything she knows, her family, friends, and virtue; to follow someone who perhaps has no idea how to be a gentleman and treat a lady like she should be treated, who simply has no idea what life is about himself. All of this just to fit in with what everyone expects of a women. Mainly in the case of a soldier, an active member of the military, which in any case can be sent to defend their country, and in many cases pay the ultimate sacrifice. In one of the many attempts to stop this tragedy from happening throughout the book, Montraville’s father says that a soldier has no business thinking of a wife until he has achieved a rank high enough that he would not have to fear losing his life or not having enough money to support himself and his family.
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At this time in America, everything the women did was supposed to revolve around the men. Women were educated to please, to educate their young boys, to take care of the men when they were grown, to advise and console them, to surrender everything they had; these were the duties of women, and this is what was taught to them from their infancy. Making it all they knew of life and this is all they wanted. At the party in the summerhouse, Montraville gave Charlotte a letter; explaining all of his feelings and how he desired only to be with her. Charlotte knew that reading the letter was a bad idea since her mother had always mentioned to her that if she were to receive a letter from a young man, she should not read it without given it to her mother first. At which, all Mademoiselle La Rue said was, “Lord bless you, my dear girl! Have you a mind to be leading strings all your life time. Prithee open the letter, read it, and judge for yourself; if you shew it your mother the consequence will be you will be taken from school, and a strict guard kept over you, so you will stand no chance of ever seeing the smart young officer again” (pg. 62). La Rue then continues lighting the fire by telling her how Montraville is going to war in America and how she will not alleviate him by permitting him to think that she would remember him when absent, and pray for his safety. The thought of adventure, love, and one day being a wife; were enough to make this words sound like words of wisdom and being the turning point of her life. As Charlotte read the letter, Mademoiselle eyed her with a malignant pleasure knowing that she had accomplished her goal in convincing Charlotte. She saw that the contents of the letter had awakened new emotions in the young and innocent girl, and before they parted it was determined that Charlotte was going to meet Montraville the next evening.
If young women at this age were more exposed to reality and had more freedom to discover things themselves; they would have had a better understanding of life in general. However, being acknowledged as nothing more than a housewife, they were secluded from normal everyday experiences that would have taught them many lessons. For example, casual dating was not allowed and it made you look like a “trashy” woman. On the contrary, they had to wait for the one man that would tell them how beautiful they were and get married. In most cases, the women would barely know the history behind this man with whom they were going to spend the rest of their lives. This must have sent various sensations which agitated the woman’s mind. In Charlotte’s case it did, the book states that, “Several times did she almost resolve to go to her governess, shew her the letter, and be guided by her advice: but Charlotte had taken one step in the ways of imprudence, and when that is once done there are always innumerable obstacles to prevent the erring person returning to the path of rectitudeâ€¦” (pg. 69). If Charlotte would have gone to her governess or even had experience a similar situation in the past, she wouldn’t have been so desperate or confused about her decision. Charlotte would question herself, pondering if she was being ungrateful for what Mademoiselle was doing for her. Nowadays things are very different. In sixth grade young girls all over the country are having their first “boyfriends” or have already had a “boyfriend”. Not looking for marriage or any type of serious commitment but just learning from experience to prepare them for what life is like. As many say, “Making mistakes just means you are learning faster.”
Charlotte Temple was not as fortunate as nowadays women are. Her first letter concluded with her making a horrible decision, leading to her death. Like all women during that era Charlotte, was a victim of society and their expectations. Of everyone’s beliefs, that women were just beautiful and did not have a saying or could do anything other than being a wife. She was a victim of tradition, being taught to be nice to her husband, cook, raise the kids, and take care of the house. Moreover, she was a victim of her so called “friends”, who gave her what she believed was great advice then turned around and left her with nothing but poverty, loneliness, and a baby. The reality is that she never really had any real support; from the very beginning she was being misinformed and deceived. Just like many of the other women, in search of happiness, love, and acceptance; left everything they had and gained nothing in return.
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