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In the 18th century, when Charlotte Temple was written, society?s ideas
about women, love, and obligations were extremely different from views
held in the 20th century. Women did not have many rights, and society
made them think that their place in life was to marry well. They were
not supposed to have desires or hopes for an amazing kind of love. They
were merely supposed to marry the man who their families intended them
to marry, and live their lives being a dutiful wife and mother. Love
had a similar essence in the 1700?s. It was not looked at as being
essential to a relationship; convenience and social status was more
important than love in an 18th century marriage. Finally, social
obligations were almost completely opposite then to what they are now.
As opposed to 20th century obligations to the self, education, and
wealth, the 18th century focused more on social status and family, and
not so many personal or independent obligations. (?Eighteenth?) In
Charlotte Temple, a radical idea concerning a breakdown of social norms,
and a restructuring of important obligations was presented. Familial
and social responsibilities seemed to take a backseat to Charlotte?s
(and other characters) independent and personal lives. For this reason,
Charlotte Temple was a revolutionary novel that gave people in the 18th
century a new way of looking at life. It emphasized love and emotions,
while disregarding normal cultural ideas.
In the beginning of the novel, familial or social obligations were
told through the stories of Mr. Temple, Charlotte, and La Rue. The
narrator remarked that Mr. Temple?s brother was ?made completely
wretched by marrying a disagreeable woman, whose fortune helped to prop
the sinking dignity of the house,? and his sisters both married old men
for their social status. The narrator commented on how their marriages
were productive in the sense that the family name was held in high
regard, yet the actual participants in the marriages were miserable
(854). Temple recognized that he will be under the same obligations as
his brother and sisters, and would probably have had to marry someone
who would be good for the family. He also realized that he would risk
disownment by his father if he chose a mate not suited to his father?s
Another person bound with familial obligations was Charlotte
Temple. Even when she was away at boarding school, she still felt she
should have obeyed her mothers? wishes. She did not think she should
open the letter given to her by Montraville, because her mother told her
not to open any letters from men without letting Mother read it first.
She shied away from seeing Montraville again, for she knew her mother
and schoolmaster would not have approved. At one point, Montraville
asked Charlotte if she loved her parents more than she loved him. She
responded, ?I hope I do. I hope my affection for them will ever keep me
from infringing the laws of filial duty.? Here in the story, it was
especially evident the ?laws? that came with being an 18th century girl.
She said here that she has a specific obligation to her parents, and
nothing should keep her from fulfilling her obligations to them (872).
She also was distressed about leaving to go to America with Montraville,
in fear of hurting her parents. This part of the text illustrated the
strength of the responsibilities imposed on Charlotte from her family.
Everything that she encountered in her personal life she was forced to
think about the influence it would have had on her family life.
Last, instead of familial obligations, La Rue risked social
obligations to pursue personal happiness. Mademoiselle La Rue agreed to
go with Charlotte on her elopement with Montraville. Charlotte did not
think La Rue was risking very much by doing so, since she did not have a
family to answer to. However, La Rue contradicted her by saying that
she was risking her ?dear reputation? by leaving all occupational and
social responsibilities in her life. Unlike Charlotte, La Rue had no
qualms about leaving her duties. She did not waver back and forth, as
Charlotte did. She admirably made up her mind and was strong in her
As the novel Charlotte Temple showed devout loyalties to family
obligations, it also illustrated the rejection of familial and social
duties for the sake of love and personal growth. Again, Mr. Temple was
under strict orders by his father to marry a woman who was good for the
family?s status and name. Specifically in the novel, he was commanded
by his father to marry Miss Weatherby, an admired woman with an affluent
family, not Lucy Eldridge, the poor, imprisoned daughter of a sailor.
However, Temple went to his father, declared his love for Lucy, and left
the house forever. This illustrated the point that, in the 18th
century, people were growing tired of the social norms. The society was
being restructured, and changing from a status based society, to one who
depended more on personal attribution. ?Normal? was no longer arranged
marriages and social standing, but personal growth and true love. Also
illustrating this point is Charlotte Temple. Despite frequent wavering
between family and true love, she finally chose true love with
Montraville. La Rue also, after absolutely no wavering, left her job
and her school and her job for personal growth.
Charlotte and La Rue both valued their independence; this was
evident because they left their obligations to pursue it. However, they
each valued it differently, and therefore, each story of independence
and growth ended differently. Charlotte, in her heart, would have liked
to be independent. She felt strongly for Montraville, and longed to be
with him, but felt obligated to fulfill her duty to her parents. But,
she ended up giving into her feelings, and left her duties at home to
elope to America. She maintained her independence, even when
Montraville abandoned her. This showed that Charlotte wanted to be her
own person, with no obligations from home. However, even when she was
faltering in her attempts to be unconstrained, she knew that she could
have returned to her family in England. The fact that she tried to keep
her head above water in America illustrated her strength and
perseverance. She was scared and proud at the same time, unwilling to
return home to the safety of her family. However, after hitting rock
bottom (pregnant and homeless in the bitter winter of New England), her
father appeared by her side. She turned to him for support and
forgiveness, and finally returned to her family after years of being
independent from them. So, in the end, the reader was presented with
the idea that, eventually, Charlotte (or anyone) must return to the
societal norms in order to be happy.
On the other hand, La Rue did not return to the obligations that
she had in the beginning of the novel. After marrying the affluent
socialite that she met on the ship to America, she denied her past, and
even denied Charlotte in her moment of need. Unlike Charlotte, La Rue
did not return to her roots and societal obligations presented in the
beginning of the novel. And, the reader is presented again with a
consequence. La Rue denied her past, and therefore in the end, died
miserable and alone.
The two women began Charlotte Temple in the same fashion: looking
for independence and self-worth. However, then endings of the two women
were different. It seemed as if the narrator is saying if one never
leaves or even returns to social obligations, the end result will be
happiness. If one denies obligations, then the end result will be
misery. This novel, however radical it was regarding the risks of
social and familial obligations for personal attribution, basically
stated at the end that the one who does adheres to obligations will be
happy in the end. So, in conclusion, Charlotte Temple did break down
social norms by presenting the idea that people could have resisted
?normal? social obligations to pursue personal happiness. However, it
was not so radical as to say that one would have been happy if they
denied their duties.
- ... s) The general reason I think Charlotte Temple stayed on the best seller ... Montraville had sex with Charlotte Temple. She became pregnant ... sealed the fate of Charlotte Temple; She had no one ... her (Rowson 108). When Charlotte Temple was written, people perhaps ...
- ... Susanna Rowson does with Charlotte in Charlotte Temple. The plots of ... however.Susanna Rowson uses Charlotte Temple as an example for ... daughter. In summary, Charlotte Temple?s actions are used to ... center of attention like Charlotte Temple is; she simply helps ...
- ... of Helen Burns and Miss. Temple. Through their instruction, Jane ... problem, speak up. New thang Charlotte Bronte was a strong-willed woman ... the same incident to Mrs. Temple for the fourth time. I ... I felt I went on that Miss Temple fully believed me. (102-3) At ...
- ... Self-Awarness Essay, Research Paper Charlotte Bronte was a strong-willed woman ... the same incident to Mrs. Temple for the fourth time. I ... I felt I went on that Miss Temple fully believed me. (102-3) At ... being called innocent. Miss Temple believed her as did her ...
- ... can see Orthodox and Catholic temples. The Turks even built ... :kamstansiz] — зміцнювати обставини orthodox ['o:0adoks] — temple [templ] — храм православний reign [rein] — ... Kipling awarded in 1907? • Charlotte Bronte Charlotte Bronte is a unique English writer ...