The Coquette

The Coquette

by

Hannah Webster Foster

Teachers and parents! Struggling with distance learning? Our Teacher Edition on The Coquette can help.

The Coquette: Letter 6 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Eliza again writes Lucy and tells her that she has been invited to attend a ball with Major Sanford, a man she does not know but seems “sufficiently respectable.” She immediately accepted his invitation, but senses that the General and Mrs. Richman disapprove. When Eliza entered the parlor where the couple sat, they seemed “better pleased with each other than with [Eliza],” and they quickly left the room. 
General and Mrs. Richman’s behavior implies that they consider themselves—the perfect married couple—above Eliza and her attraction to Sanford. Sanford has a reputation as a womanizer and the Richmans obviously disapprove. Eliza knows nothing of Sanford’s reputation, but instead of warning Eliza, her friends avoid her and act superior.
Themes
Friendship Theme Icon
The General and Mrs. Richman are a “happy pair,” Eliza tells Lucy, and if it is ever Eliza’s “fate to wear the hymenial chain,” she hopes to have a similar marriage. The General and Mrs. Richman have “health and wealth,” and every other “attendant blessing.” The couple has been very supportive of Eliza’s social life thus far; although Mrs. Richman’s “present circumstances render her fond of retirement.” Eliza does not know why the Richmans appear to disapprove of her date with Sanford, and their scorn gives her “pain,” but she will “apply the chymical powers of friendship and extract the secret from Mrs. Richman tomorrow, if not before.”
Again, General and Mrs. Richman are the consummate married couple and are the example Eliza is expected follow. They appear to be supportive of Eliza’s social life only if she lives it the way they see fit—otherwise they avoid and alienate her. Eliza shouldn’t have to use “chemical powers” to extract Mrs. Richman’s opinion; as a friend, she should openly express it—especially if Mrs. Richman is concerned that Sanford is bad for Eliza.
Themes
Marriage and Social Mobility Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon