The Coquette

The Coquette

by

Hannah Webster Foster

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Mrs. Nancy Sanford Character Analysis

Major Peter Sanford’s wife and, for a short time, Eliza Wharton’s friend. Nancy comes from a wealthy Southern family, and Sanford marries her for her money so he can retain his class status. Sanford has squandered his own wealth, and marrying a rich woman is, in his opinion, the only solution. However, Sanford treats Nancy and their marriage with indifference and doesn’t bother to hide his feelings for Eliza. Nancy befriends Eliza at the behest of her husband—Sanford’s plan to keep Eliza close—and her marriage is generally unhappy. Sanford openly admits that he does not love Nancy and he speaks of her with contempt. She gives birth to his son, but the baby dies soon after birth. Once Eliza also becomes pregnant with Sanford’s baby, Nancy divorces Sanford and takes her money with her, leaving him destitute. Nancy and her marriage to Sanford serve as a cautionary tale for those who marry for the sake of money and social class.

Mrs. Nancy Sanford Quotes in The Coquette

The The Coquette quotes below are all either spoken by Mrs. Nancy Sanford or refer to Mrs. Nancy Sanford. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Women and Society Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Dover Publications edition of The Coquette published in 2015.
Letter 70 Quotes

[Eliza] is exceedingly depressed; and says she neither expects nor wishes to survive her lying in. Insanity, for aught I know, must be my lot, if she should die. But I will not harbor the idea. I hope, one time or other, to have the power to make her amends, even by marriage. My wife may be provoked, I imagine, to sue for a divorce. If she should, she would find no difficulty in obtaining it; and then I would take Eliza in her stead. Though I confess that the idea of being thus connected with a woman whom I have been able to dishonor would be rather hard to surmount. It would hurt even my delicacy, little as you may think me to possess, to have a wife whom I know to be seducible. And, on this account, I cannot be positive that even Eliza would retain my love.

Page Number: 132
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation long mobile
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Mrs. Nancy Sanford Character Timeline in The Coquette

The timeline below shows where the character Mrs. Nancy Sanford appears in The Coquette. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Letter LIV. to Mr. Charles Deighton.
Women and Society Theme Icon
Marriage and Social Mobility Theme Icon
...married man!” It was “dire necessity” that has caused Sanford’s marriage, and his new wife, Nancy, comes with “five thought pounds in possession, and more in reversion.” Miss Laurence was only... (full context)
Marriage and Social Mobility Theme Icon
...to Hartford, Sanford plans to visit Eliza tomorrow and “solicit her friendship” for his wife, Nancy. That way, Sanford may “enjoy [Eliza’s] society, at least.” He can’t stop thinking about Eliza,... (full context)
Letter LV. to Mrs. Lucy Sumner.
Marriage and Social Mobility Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
Sanford went on to ask Eliza to be a friend to his wife, Nancy. She is “a stranger” in Harford after all, and she would appreciate Eliza’s friendship. Eliza... (full context)
Letter LVI. To Mrs. Lucy Sumner.
Sex and Virtue Theme Icon
...rakes.” While on a walk with Eliza, Julia again ran into Sanford and his wife, Nancy, and they endured a pleasant exchange. Eliza was obviously uncomfortable, and Sanford’s eyes never left... (full context)
Letter LVII. to Mrs. Lucy Sumner.
Marriage and Social Mobility Theme Icon
...it. The party was large, and Eliza found all guests agreeable. After dinner, Sanford “gave [Nancy’s] hand” to Mr. Grey, a stranger, and took Eliza’s for himself. Sanford was kind and... (full context)
Letter LVIII. to Mr. Charles Deighton.
Women and Society Theme Icon
Marriage and Social Mobility Theme Icon
...he “flatters” himself “to have contributed in a degree.” Sanford visits her often, sometimes with Nancy, and the two have become friends. He thinks about Eliza constantly when he is not... (full context)
Letter LIX. to Mrs. Lucy Sumner.
Sex and Virtue Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
...Major and Mrs. Sanford lately; he treats Eliza with the “tenderness of a brother,” and Nancy treats her with the “attention of a sister.” Eliza believes that Sanford’s previous feelings for... (full context)
Letter LX. to the same.
Sex and Virtue Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
...Julia isn’t so sure. They recently took tea at neighbor’s, and Sanford arrived alone, claiming Nancy was indisposed. He then spent the remainder of the night talking to Eliza. Their closeness... (full context)
Sex and Virtue Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
...Eliza began to weep and refused to speak more on the subject. Julia called at Nancy Sanford’s the next day to say goodbye before leaving for Boston and learned that she... (full context)
Letter LXV. to Mr. Charles Deighton.
Sex and Virtue Theme Icon
Marriage and Social Mobility Theme Icon
...be “defeated in [his] plan.” Since then, Eliza’s mind and health have been “impaired,” and Nancy too has not been well. She recently birthed a baby boy, “a dead one though,”... (full context)
Letter LXX. to Mr. Charles Deighton.
Women and Society Theme Icon
Sex and Virtue Theme Icon
Marriage and Social Mobility Theme Icon
...where she thought every eye accused, and every heart condemned her.” Sanford tells Charles that Nancy has begun to suspect that he is hiding something, and he knows she will soon... (full context)
Letter LXXI. to Mrs. Lucy Sumner.
Sex and Virtue Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
“I am told that Major Sanford is quite frantic,” Julia writes. His wife, Nancy, has left him, and he lost his mortgaged home when he lost her fortune. Only... (full context)
Letter LXXII. to Mr. Charles Deighton.
Women and Society Theme Icon
Sex and Virtue Theme Icon
...regret that she is now gone. Sanford’s wife and house are gone now, as well; Nancy has finally divorced him, and he signed over his house to appease his creditors. “In... (full context)