The Coquette

The Coquette

by

Hannah Webster Foster

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The Coquette: Letter 18 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
“This same Eliza, of whom I have told you,” Sanford writes Charles, “has really made more impression on my heart, than I was aware of.” She also has the attention of “a priest,” and when Sanford saw them together, he “felt a glow of jealousy.” However, Sanford has “a plan of necessity” to marry Miss Laurence. Her father, Mr. Laurence, is “a man of large property” and she an only child. Her family has “very much courted and caressed” Sanford, and he knows that they intend to “shackle” him in marriage.
Just as Eliza has previously, Sanford refers to marriage as “shackles,” which implies that he likens it to prison or slavery, and again illustrates his distaste for marriage. Surprisingly, Sanford is beginning to fall in love with Eliza (as much as he is capable), and this, in addition to his aversion to marriage, makes his necessity to marry for money plain and obviously urgent. 
Themes
Marriage and Social Mobility Theme Icon
While Sanford intends to marry Miss Laurence, he much prefers Eliza. “I know not the lady in the world with whom I would sooner form a connection of this sort than with Eliza Wharton. But it will never do.” If either Sanford or Eliza had more money, he would “risk a union,” but with things as they are, this is impossible. For now, Sanford wants to enjoy Eliza’s company for “as long as possible,” and while he can’t have her, he “will not tamely see her the property of another.” 
Even though Sanford is falling for Eliza, he cares little about her choices either. He has no intention of ever entering a formal relationship with Eliza—that is to say he won’t marry her—but he doesn’t want to see her with anyone else, either.  His reference to Eliza as “property” again underscores her status as a woman; she is something to be owned and controlled.
Themes
Women and Society Theme Icon
Marriage and Social Mobility Theme Icon