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Literature / Charlotte Temple

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The bestselling book of early 19th-century America, written by Susanna Rowson and published in 1791.

Charlotte is a sweet, innocent English girl who knows little of the world. On the advice of her poisonous new "friend," Mlle de la Rue, Charlotte decides to run away with John Montraville, a dashing and handsome soldier whom she loves. They elope... to America. Their honeymoon doesn't last, though, and it's not long before Charlotte is abandoned and on the streets... and did we mention pregnant?

Charlotte Temple contains examples of :

  • Adult Fear: Your teenage daughter disappears with her French teacher, running off to another continent. You spend months trying to find her, only to encounter her dying and with a baby girl. Just as you're burying her, the man who impregnated her and abandoned her comes to the funeral and begs you to kill him. Lampshaded by Mademoiselle de la Rue when she comes begging to their doorstep, destitute and dying.
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  • An Aesop: Stated quite explicitly at the end.
  • Babies Ever After - not used very happily.
  • Dear Negative Reader: Not only set up defensively in the foreword, but a climactic chapter is actually titled "Which Those Devoid of Feeling Need Not Read," i.e. "Which Those Who Would Criticize It For the Sentimental and Predictable Melodrama That It Is, Need Not Read."
  • Death by Childbirth
  • Death by Sex/The Scourge of God: Charlotte dies after giving birth.
  • Femme Fatale- Mademoiselle de la Rue
  • Forgiveness: Charlotte's father forgives la Rue for what she did to Charlotte, even knowing that she made him and his wife suffer through a parent's worst nightmare.
  • French Jerk - Mlle de la Rue.
    • Averted with Charlotte's French headmistress. Charlotte's father apologizes to her after referring to de la Rue as "that Frenchwoman".
  • Gold Digger: La Rue, and Montraville as well.
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  • The Ingenue- Charlotte
  • Karmic Death: After turning Charlotte away as a rich wife, la Rue in turn is abandoned by her husband because the servants see her for a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing, and she spends several years destitute. Eventually she ends up ironically on the Temples' doorstep begging... and they pay for her debts and medical expenses, so she can die in peace.
  • Lemony Narrator - who isn't even ironic about it.
  • Meaningful Name - "La Rue" is French for "The Street." Let's look again at Mlle "de la Rue"...
  • Naïve Everygirl - Charlotte
  • The Punishment Isthe Crime: Montraville realizes too late that he abandoned Charlotte while pregnant and she died while he was off marrying another woman. He sees the house where she stayed is empty and hears from the townspeople that she was wandering the streets mad. Montraville arrives just in time to see her funeral and begs Mr. Temple to kill him. Mr. Temple refuses to give him that satisfaction, so instead Montraville murders the friend that lied about Charlotte being wicked, and spends the rest of his life in sorrow. While his wife tends on him.
  • Replacement Goldfish: Lucy, Charlotte's daughter, for her parents.
  • Scare 'Em Straight - If you run away with a man who looks good in a uniform - or even listen to women who are - gasp! - at all sexual, you'll be abandoned and left to starve on the streets while pregnant, and if you're really lucky, you'll get to die in your father's arms.
  • Sex Is Evil
  • Toxic Friend Influence - Mademoiselle de la Rue


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