The Coquette

The Coquette

by

Hannah Webster Foster

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The Roadside Inn at Danvers Symbol Analysis

The Roadside Inn at Danvers Symbol Icon

The roadside inn at Danvers where Eliza Wharton goes to give birth to her baby symbolizes the oppression of women in Hannah Webster Foster’s The Coquette. Danvers, a town located in northern Massachusetts, was originally known as Salem Village, the historic site of the notorious witch trials of 1692, where 14 women were hanged as witches. The 1692 hangings in Salem have long since been understood as a form of persecution against women perceived to be different or threatening, and the fact that Eliza ends up in this very place over a hundred years later, herself the victim of oppression and misunderstanding because of her perceived differences as a woman, is certainly ironic.

Eliza runs off to the inn at Danvers from her home in Hartford, Connecticut, after an affair with Major Sanford, a known rake, results in her pregnancy. She has no reason to believe that her friends, family, or broader society will ever accept her again, since she has strayed so far from the realm of acceptable womanly behavior, so she runs to Danvers, where she dies not long after the death of her child. Eliza runs to Danvers because the sexist nature of post-Revolutionary America’s patriarchal society has forced her out of respectable life. She refuses to conform to the narrow ideals of acceptable womanhood, and she is summarily scorned and sidelined. Eliza’s death at the inn at Danvers is a fitting end to her plight and is in keeping with the trials of the women in Salem Village in 1692.

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The Roadside Inn at Danvers Symbol Timeline in The Coquette

The timeline below shows where the symbol The Roadside Inn at Danvers appears in The Coquette. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Letter LXX. to Mr. Charles Deighton.
Women and Society Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
Sanford has taken Eliza to a roadside inn in a neighboring state, but before he did, Eliza cursed him for rendering her “the... (full context)
Letter LXXI. to Mrs. Lucy Sumner.
Women and Society Theme Icon
Friendship Theme Icon
...description who died at Danvers after giving birth. Eliza’s brother immediately dispatched a carriage to the roadside inn at Danvers and returned with “several scraps of [Eliza’s] writing, containing miscellaneous reflections on her... (full context)