The Coquette

The Coquette

The Coquette Letter 71 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
“The drama is now closed!” Julia writes to Lucy. “A tragical one indeed it has proved.” Recently, in a Boston newspaper, Mrs. Wharton read a notice about a young woman matching Eliza’s description who died at Danvers after giving birth. Eliza’s brother immediately dispatched a carriage to the roadside inn at Danvers and returned with “several scraps of [Eliza’s] writing, containing miscellaneous reflections on her situation, the death of her babe, and the absence of her friends.” The woman was indeed Eliza. 
Eliza died alone in Danvers, but not before she also endured the death of her child, which she also had to do alone without the comfort of her friends. Eliza’s writings suggest that her friends remained in her thoughts despite all they have been through, and she no doubt died in misery without them. While Foster’s story is meant to be a cautionary tale about women who sacrifice their virtue, she portrays Eliza in an incredibly sympathetic way that suggests her fall and eventual demise were not entirely of her own doing, and that Eliza’s friends and sexist society had an equal hand in guiding her actions. 
Themes
Women and Society 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 “poverty and disgrace await him!” Julia says. She laments the depressed state of Mrs. Wharton, who has been “stripped of the best solace of her declining years, by the ensuring machinations of a profligate debauchee!” Both Eliza and Mrs. Wharton, Julia claims, “have fallen victims at the shrine of libertinism!
Even in Eliza’s death, Julia is judgmental and harsh, and she shows more sympathy for Mrs. Wharton than she does for Eliza. Sanford meets an end that he truly deserves—Nancy leaves and takes all her money, and he is disgraced and ruined. While Sanford can certainly go on seducing women, this is likely to be difficult as a bankrupt and homeless man. 
Themes
Sex and Virtue Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
Related Quotes