The Coquette

The Coquette

by

Hannah Webster Foster

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The Coquette: Letter 70 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
“I have, at last, accomplished the removal of my darling girl,” Sanford writes Charles, “from a place 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 divorce him. He considers marrying Eliza but finds this idea difficult to imagine. “It would hurt even my delicacy,” Sanford writes, “to have a wife whom I know to be seducible.”
Sanford’s continued refusal to marry Eliza on the grounds that she is “seducible,” and therefore not marriage material, again reflects their sexist society. Sanford’s own promiscuity is excused while Eliza’s is not, and it makes no difference to Sanford that he is the one who seduced her. 
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Related Quotes
Sanford plans to visit Eliza tomorrow. “From the very soul I pity her,” Sanford claims, “and wish I could have preserved her virtue consistently with the indulgence of my passion.” He doesn’t blame Eliza entirely for her plight— “as in like cases, I do to the sex in general,” Sanford says—and he looks forward to seeing her. “Her friends are all in arms about her,” he claims, and figures it won’t be long before he is forced to move from town. 
This too suggests that Sanford is a despicable and sexist man. He regrets what has happened to Eliza, but he only wishes he could have “preserved her virtue” and slept with her. Sanford doesn’t seem willing to sacrifice his own pleasure to save Eliza’s reputation or virtue, and if this is how it had to turn out for him to get what he wanted, then so be it. In this way, Eliza has definitely been hit by his “paw,” and Sanford indeed considers it entirely her problem.
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Sanford has taken Eliza to a roadside inn in a neighboring state, but before he did, Eliza cursed him for rendering her “the reproach of [her] friends, the disgrace of [her] family, and a dishonor to virtue and [her] sex.” Still, she forgave him and said she only wished for her “unhappy story” to “serve as a beacon to warn the American fair of the dangerous tendency and destructive consequences of associating with men” like Sanford. Sanford begged Eliza to return to Hartford and be his wife, but she refused and agreed to receive him as a friend only. He returned home alone. “My body remains behind,” Sanford writes, “but my soul, if I have any, went with her!”
The roadside inn is symbolic of Eliza’s oppression as a woman. She attempted to resist the patriarchy and live a life of her choosing, and now she is basically shunned. As Eliza hasn’t behaved like a proper eighteenth-century woman should, society has rejected her. Ironically, this task has been executed almost entirely by Eliza’s friends, who now “reproach her.” In this way, women, particularly a woman’s friends, are instrumental in reinforcing and upholding patriarchal ideals—the very same ideals that seek to oppress and marginalize them.  
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