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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?


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Charlotte Temple contains examples of :

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The Punishment Is the 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.
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  • Scare 'Em Straight: If you run away with a man who looks good in a uniform, 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.


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