The Coquette

The Coquette

by

Hannah Webster Foster

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The Coquette: Letter 12 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
“The heart of your friend is again besieged,” Eliza writes Lucy. “Sometimes I think of becoming a predestinarian, and submitting implicitly to fate, without any exercise of free will,” Eliza says, “but as mine seems to be a wayward one, I would counteract the operations of it, if possible.” Mrs. Richman told Eliza that Reverend Boyer would be calling this evening, and that she expects him to be as “attentive and sincere” as his last visit. “Your friends, Eliza,” Mrs. Richman said, “would be very happy to see you united to a man of Mr. Boyer’s worth.” Eliza told Mrs. Richman that she is much too happy in her current life to think about marriage. “Marriage is the tomb of friendship,” Eliza writes.
Eliza’s comment that she thinks “of becoming a predestinarian” is a reference to the patriarchal society in which she lives. As a woman, Eliza is “predestined” to marry and become domesticated, and she is expected to accept this “fate” without question or complaint. She knows it would be easier to just accept this, but she would rather live a life of her own choosing than bend to the sexist nature of her society. Eliza dreads getting married and sacrificing her social life, which is why she considers marriage “the tomb of friendship.”
Themes
Women and Society Theme Icon
Marriage and Social Mobility Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
Related Quotes
When Eliza went down to dinner that evening, she found Reverend Boyer already waiting. After a nice dinner and pleasant conversation, they took a walk in the garden, where Boyer found the courage to “admit his addresses,” and asked Eliza if it were possible for her to “reward his love.” To Eliza, “this was a rather sudden affair” and she couldn’t answer “without consideration.” She asked Boyer to call on her again, and he suggested the next day. “O, not so soon,” Eliza answered. “Next Monday, I believe will be early enough.”
The fact that Eliza wants extended time to decide if she will “reward [Boyer’s] love,” suggests that her feelings aren’t nearly as strong as his. Boyer assumes she will only need the evening to consider their future, but Eliza wants several days. This apprehension is another reflection of Eliza’s aversion to marriage—she attempts to avoid even talking about it whenever possible.
Themes
Marriage and Social Mobility Theme Icon