The Coquette

The Coquette

by

Hannah Webster Foster

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The Coquette: Letter 16 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
“We go on charmingly here,” Eliza writes Lucy, “almost as soft and smooth as your ladyship.” Today, Reverend Boyer informed Eliza that he is leaving tomorrow for his new residence, where he will “put on the sacred bands.” He asked to write Eliza, and she agreed, but told him not to “expect anything more than general subjects from [her].” As they spoke, they were interrupted by Major Sanford, whose presence “agreeably relieved” Eliza. “So sweet a repast, for several hours together,” she says in reference to Boyer, “was rather sickening to my taste.”
This letter is quite passive aggressive. Eliza is obviously feeling judged by Lucy’s last letter, which is why Eliza says that her own life is going nearly “as soft and smooth as your ladyship,” as if Lucy’s life is superior to Eliza’s. The mention of Boyer’s “sacred bands” could be a reference to his final vows as a preacher, but it is also a reference to marriage—he has bought a new house with the intention of soon getting married, as well.
Themes
Marriage and Social Mobility Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
After Sanford left, Boyer asked Eliza “to give him some assurance of [her] constancy,” but she “reminded him of the terms of [their] engagement.” Boyer then “bid [Eliza] an affectionate adieu,” he told her not to expect him for a few months. Eliza tells Lucy that she is not “greatly interested in the progress of the negotiation” with Boyer and is focused only on her friends.
The fact that Boyer needs to be “reminded of the terms of their engagement” suggests that he doesn’t respect Eliza or her wishes, and this is another reflection of their patriarchal society. It doesn’t matter what Eliza wants; if Boyer wants to marry Eliza, she will have little recourse.
Themes
Women and Society Theme Icon
Marriage and Social Mobility Theme Icon