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 14 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
“This was the day fixed for deciding Mr. Boyer’s cause,” Eliza writes Lucy. He came to visit today, and after a bit of small talk, “he seemed eager to improve the opportunity to enter directly on the subject of his present visit.” Eliza told Boyer that she had only just entered society, and she was in no rush to give it up. “I recoil at the thought of immediately forming a connection,” Eliza told him, “which must confine me to the duties of domestic life.” While Eliza is fond of Boyer, she told him he must not consider her “confined to [his] society, or obligated to a future connection.” Reverend Boyer was obviously disappointed, but he asked Eliza to go riding the next day and she accepted. 
Eliza is more than clear to Boyer about her desire to remain single and tells him in no uncertain terms that she will not see him exclusively. Eliza is clear to everyone what her wishes are regarding marriage, but no one respects her opinions or desires. This complete indifference to Eliza’s personal choices again reflects the oppression of her sexist and patriarchal society. Eliza is “predestined” to be a wife and mother, and it makes very little difference whether she actually wants to do this.
Themes
Women and Society Theme Icon
Marriage and Social Mobility Theme Icon
Related Quotes
After Reverend Boyer had gone, Mrs. Richman told Eliza that she “should own [herself] somewhat engaged to him,” but Eliza told her that was something she couldn’t do. Eliza is not yet ready to “resign [her] freedom,” but Mrs. Richman claimed Eliza has the “wrong ideas of freedom” and marriage. “I hope that Mr. Boyer will happily rectify them,” Mrs. Richman said. 
Eliza doesn’t consider herself “free” if she can’t make her own decisions (i.e. stay single or get married), but Mrs. Richman still isn’t listening. As a friend, she should support and empower Eliza, but she continues to push her toward Boyer, even when Eliza explicitly asks her not to.
Themes
Marriage and Social Mobility Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon